Having a reactive dog changes your world. It makes your world smaller. Having more than one reactive dog makes it smaller yet. You find yourself living in a tiny world, one in which you are forced to micromanage every trip away from home. Places that are perfect for dog walking have to be avoided, or at the very least, visited during off hours. Even then, a constant state of vigilance is required in order to prevent  encounters with other dogs.

When I first found myself in the situation of raising a trio of reactive dogs, I thought that I could “fix” the problem. Eventually I would find the right veterinarian, trainer, book, or program that would put all of my Min Pins in a row. Well, here I am, nine years later. Not a lot has changed.

After acquiring my Min Pins I truly believed that they would be able to do everything that I did with my first Min Pin. Vacations and trips were always packed full of dog friendly adventures with my beloved Twinkie. I had envisioned similar experiences for these girls and was heartbroken when I realized that was never going to be a reality.

One-dog outings are the best option because even my most reactive dog, Quest, is much more manageable when she is not accompanied by her pack. With full-time jobs, my husband and I usually do not have enough time for anything but group outings. With the exception of neighborhood walks, almost all other trips include everyone. That being the case, we are extremely limited in the places we can go.

 

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Spring 2017 – Enjoying a rare day trip

 

To add to the frustration, one of our most frequent walking areas seems to have outgrown our welcome. A nearby church parking lot, one of our two safe havens, is no longer the dog-free environment that it was for the past few years. More people have discovered it and are enjoying it with their dogs on a regular basis which means that we must remain on high alert whenever we are there.

Not all of my dogs are reactive. Aspen “outgrew” her reactivity years ago when I began using desensitization and counter conditioning. Living in a tiny world, Aspen draws the short stick because she is my one dog who can go anywhere without a problem. Although she is a “barker” at home, her behavior is excellent when out in public and around other dogs. Whenever our walks are cut short or derailed in any way due to the reactive behavior of my other two dogs, I always feel bad for Aspen. She deserves more, and with the exception of rare solo trips, her world is much smaller than it needs to be.

 

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Spring 2017 – Church Walk

 

As disappointing as it is, living in a tiny world is not the worst thing in the world. It took me awhile, but over time I learned to accept the situation. I know that I will always be limited as to where I can take my dogs and I am finally ok with that.