Owning a reactive dog is really hard. Anyone who has experienced it knows just how hard. The guilt, the fear, the anxiety, the embarrassment, the dread before every walk, the sinking stomach prior to a visit to the vet. Not to mention the judgement we encounter from others on a pretty much daily basis.
HOWEVER. Owning a reactive dog can also be just amazing. What wonderful, warm, complex dogs they are. They are usually incredibly loving and earning their trust is one of the best things in life.
If you’re looking for a walker for your reactive dog have a think about the following, and don’t be afraid to ask any potential walkers until you feel absolutely happy that your dog will come first:
1. How do they decide which dogs walk together, and what do they do if the dogs don’t get on after sharing a walk or two?
2. Are they adept at reading body language, and able to tell when a dog needs space, to be left alone, is scared etc?
3. How does the dog travel (if applicable)? Do the crates have opaque barriers so the dogs aren’t confined in close proximity without the opportunity to ‘hide / avoid’?
4. Do they ask you for detail about issues such as; how the dog finds children, bikes, cars, strangers, other dogs, noises, travel etc? Do you feel confident they’ve asked enough to manage your unique dog?
5. Do they ask how you want them to meet you and your dog, i.e. whether it’s better to meet outdoors or in your home? And do they follow your guidance about whether to walk your dog with a lead, a muzzle, on its own initially, with you for a walk or two and so on?
One thing I’ve learnt is that you have every right to ask all of the above and protect your dog. For reactive dogs in doesn’t take a few adverse experiences to create an indelible problem, so this stuff can be really important.
If you have any comments or suggestions do leave them here.