Traveling Dog Lady: Car-chasing hound - do you have a reactive or fearful dog?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Car-chasing hound - do you have a reactive or fearful dog?

I'm taking part in the WOOF Support Blog Hop today.  This is where reactive dogs and their owners can come together to share similar experiences.  

Are you a reactive/fearful dog or its owner?  
Then please join and share your story.  

The Blog Hop is open through Sunday, February 16th on Oz the Terrier's blog as well as on co-hosts Roxy the Traveling Dog and Wag 'n' Woof Pets blogs.

Gosh, where do I start?  All of my dogs are presently, or have been in the past, reactive or fearful dogs! Hobie, in particular, and Timba, both had fears of various things from thunder to fireworks and even balloons and kites.  And I am their fearful owner.  There, I finally admitted it -- I'm fearful when I socialize my dog(s) in any situation that involves other humans.  I try to see the humor in it; that's how I get through life in a fearful state.

But dogs are perceptive little creatures, and something you can successfully hide from other humans (maybe?) you can't hide from a dog.  Dogs are all about your energy, and if you're afraid, they know. People say that about horses, but it's true about dogs as well.  Probably cats too, who knows?

So back to the reactive dogs.  Hobie is aging and reacts to sounds around the house (mostly when the other two dogs bark because they are reacting to something!).  When he was younger, it was hard to take him and Hector on walks because they would react to other dogs, and they'd drag me down the road in an attempt to "greet".  One time Hobie and another dog's leash got tangled together and the two dogs' heads got pulled towards each other, then they sorta "got into it" until I stepped in and untangled the leashes... the other dog's owner threatened to call the police. Aye carumba! Seriously?  She was the one using a flexi-leash, and I stuck my hands on the necks of two fighting dogs whose heads were an inch apart!  I should've gotten rewarded for being a hero.  I walked Hobie back home, crying and shaking.  The woman said she was sending the police to my house (that never transpired).  And you wonder why I'm afraid?

Did you.... h-h-H-H-HEAR something?!  

Cooper is somewhat disabled (we have to be careful not to over-exert him as his single front leg takes the brunt of all activity).  So, he stays home a lot, and reacts to anything and everything going past the house.  We live on a dead-end dirt road in the middle of nowhere.  You'd think there wouldn't be anything going past the house.  No, it's like Grand Central Station around here.  Oil deliveries, visitors, spring water deliveries, people walking and riding bikes, lawnmowers, boats on trailers, snowblowers, snowmobiles, snow plows, people with snow shovels, Fedex, UPS, USPS!  Cooper has no concept of "inside voice".  He is the smallest of our three dogs, but has the loudest and deepest "bellow" of any dog I've ever met... and we've had several honorary members of The Hound Group, so you can only imagine how loud are said bellows.

I will belllloooooowwwwwwwwww at the windooooowwwww!
(while balancing on one leg)
Cooper on high-alert on Cape Cod

Charlie Brown is currently the most reactive of the family, and this post is really about him.  He's the able-bodied one -- the one I should be taking on walks, if only I was not so fearful (putting the weather and humongous snowbanks aside as today's excuse, for the moment, of course).  So anyway, Charlie reacts and chases every car, bicycle and motorcycle that goes past us -- in any situation.  If he is inside the car, he goes ballistic barking when any of those items goes near the car.

The twins, waiting for action on the dirt road

Motorcycles and bicycles he will bark at, even if we are in the car and moving.  He does not bark at other cars when we're moving.  When at home, he fence-runs whenever one of the aforementioned goes past the house. This is true at both of our houses -- each of them happen to be on a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere. At our home on Cape Cod, he fence-chases people carrying surfboards, beach chairs, or pushing strollers.  He will also bark at someone just walking by with nothing in their hands. Runners are of particular concern.  So is anyone wearing pink clothing.  I don't even need to mention this, but anyone walking a dog gets immediate attention!

At the fence, ready to react

Now, what's really funny and strange about this is, I find myself constantly apologizing to people as they're walking by our property.  100% of the time, the humans have all told me to stop worrying, "he's so cute", he's "just doing his job" (a police officer actually said that!  I thought he was coming by the house to give us a citation!), "can I pat him?", "oh my daughter/son loves dogs" (as the small child is standing there clapping hands and giggling), and of course, "What kind of dog is that?"  Everything except, "you better call off your dog, or I'm gonna report you!"  I suppose I should be grateful.  When I had black dogs (and they didn't have any bad behaviors!!), people were not so nice.  Funny, eh?

The hunter spots a squirrel
I should mention that Charlie is a hound-mix, he looks more like a foxhound, and he "trees" small animals which is a coonhound behavior.  When he trees a squirrel [his favorite] he barks repeatedly. These are short barks, repeated while propping his front legs against the tree or fence.  He will only stop when I walk all the way over to him and congratulate him.  This is a fascinating inherent behavior that he was not taught, he just does it because it comes naturally.  He has no interest in hurting or catching the squirrel.  He is just sounding the alarm:  "Squirrel!  squirrel!" Charlie is like no dog I have ever had before. He is smart in a very different way from all those Labs we had before him, and it's taken us a couple of years to figure out what the heck he is trying to say and do.  A fascinating process! You get the dog you need, not the dog you want!

ooooooo!  Squirrrrrellllll!

Charlie "treeing" a squirrel

Imagine being out on a walk with Charlie on leash.  He is now 85-90 pounds, and very tall.  I'm no sludge, but I'm also no spring chicken.  I somehow manage to hold onto him when he lunges at EVERY car (no exceptions).  If a cyclist or runner goes by, or a person carrying a board or chair, it's pretty bad.  We have no sidewalks in either of the two communities where we live.  We could walk in the woods, but in order to get to the woods, we have to either drive, or walk on the road with no sidewalks.  On Cape Cod, we go to a park where other dogs gather.  It's not a dog park, it's a people park where dogs are welcome.  Charlie does great in that situation, although when we first pull into the parking lot it is pandemonium getting him out of the car.

Scoping out the parking lot at the beach in Truro

Does anyone else out there have a dog obsessed with chasing humans in cars or on bikes, etc?  If so, I'd like to hear suggestions on how to cure him of this -- because it's a new one on me. None of my previous dogs had this problem, so I'm stumped.  I would love to be able to walk my dog and get us both some exercise!