I have mentioned that Melvin has challenges with other dogs. I’m selling him short when I say that. There are issues with other dogs but it’s not always Melvin’s fault.
First off, he is
exuberant leash reactive. For those of you who walk a dog on leash you know, ‘leash reactive’ is an equation.
- First, there is the dog, who on most occasions will pull towards something they want to be closer to. Not perfect behavior but certainly not always aggression. Often for Melvin, he is just excited to see or meet someone new.
- Second, there is the person holding the leash. In Melvin’s case, that’s me. When he pulls, I stop. Even if it means f
alling downdigging my heels in the ground. At the same time, my heart rate goes up, knowing that ‘reactivity’ could occur. Funny, because this is the part of the equation that usually causes that reaction.
- This circles us back to the dog/Melvin. He senses my concern and goes into a different state. I don’t want him charging this other person (or dog) so now he must.
- The last part of the equation is the leash. It pulls tight (due to its anchors) and a different mood is put into play. Tension.
So yes, Melvin is leash reactive. But so am I. I could blame the leash but who’d believe me.
Next, there is no way Melvin was socialized as a puppy. He greets other dogs at a fast, excited pace and goes right in for a face-to-face hello. I swear he thinks he’s Parisian because it’s almost like he tries to give the dog a kiss on each cheek. Although Melvin looks goofy and wiggly and is wagging his nubin and perhaps in some language saying ‘yippeee, play, play, play’ when barreling towards the other dog, meeting face-to-face in the dog world is rude and the dog will usually issue a warning. Here is where socialization comes in handy. Socialized dogs read cues. They (hopefully) react accordingly. Melvin thinks every cue means ‘definitely speed-up’. When a dog does not like how Melvin is playing and barks or snaps, Melvin hears ‘keep going, I love you’. Some dogs tolerate it, some do not.
Of course, there are a handful (ok, two handfuls) of dogs that Melvin sees on walks that I can tell will be an issue. He is way too aware of them, assumes a lunging stance and barks and/or growls. We u-turn, about-face or cross the street.
We are all works in progress.