Reactivity is reactivity. Whether it’s a Rottweiler, a Labrador or a Boston Terrier.
It‘s common to see a small breed at the end of a leash barking at every dog it see’s, for it to be followed by a humorous comment of “He thinks he’s a big dog”.
In reality, if the exact same behaviour is shown by a larger breed the perception is one of a dangerous, aggressive and out of control dog.
Jefferson came to us because he was showing reactivity to dogs, bikes and lorries. Displaying ‘dominant’ behaviour like humping, biting necks and growling.
His owners did the right thing and contacted a trainer to get to the bottom of it and stopped his contact with other dogs immediately. After looking into the issues they were experiencing it became very clear what the driving force was.
Like many dogs, Jefferson had your typical puppy experience. Meeting every dog and person available to socialise him and generally being provided with all of life’s luxuries. Jefferson was then neutered at 11-months-old and the reduction in his hormones led to his level of nerve increasing, leading to undesirable behaviour when seeing another dog. When he would interact with a dog his level of stress/arousal would lead to frustration and causing the display of ‘dominant’ behaviour.
As with many small dogs, the fear of applying boundaries and consequence had meant Jefferson simply wasn’t aware his behaviour was undesirable, leaving it was being self-rewarded.
We got to work on some fundamentals and it was great to see how much drive this little dog had for both food and toys. This makes all training much easier when the dog is happy to work for something and it was clear his owners had already put some great work into him.
Next we introduced him to our stooge dogs and he quickly picked up that engagement with the handler was more rewarding than being at the end of the leash barking. We even had a few unexpected guests turn up and he did awesome.