I will add background but to cut right to the point of what I am wondering: why does the leash trigger a negative response when meeting other dogs?
So I've had Iris for well over a year now and have slowly gotten a pretty good handle on her leash reactivity. After I adopted her, her reaction to seeing any dogs while out on walks was a nightmare. She'd start screaming, lunging, spinning around at the end of the leash and playing tug of war with it. It was initially a tough battle because there are a lot of dogs in my vicinity that spend their life chained up or in a fenced area or yard. And worse yet because some of them would really get riled up, which of course got Iris extremely riled up. Eventually I found a route that offered minimal exposure to dogs. There were a couple very well mannered senior dogs along the way with fenced yards right to the street that, she could have a brief hello with. She always wanted to stay longer, but I worked on encouraging her to move forward. Then I slowly got back into our normal routes and continued to encourage her. Now we are at the point where she is still excited to see them but does not remain in that excited state, she wants to move forward. Other dogs being walked still take a bit more work, but we are moving forward and I think that is a positive.
Now one thing that is a battle (that I should not have to deal with) is unleashed dogs. It seems like I am running into them more and more all the time. I've been making all attempts to avoid them whenever I can. When we get caugh off guard the smart dogs will recognize her posture and walk away, but the young or poorly socialized will get right in her face. And then she nips at them. Initially I thought that was simply her way of playing, she nips a lot and is quite rough when playing. But her posture suggests otherwise. She stiffens up, tail straight out, fast and shallow breating. Usually the others will leave at that point and Iris for some reason turns all tail wagging happy, but one engaged her last week and I had to get in the middle of a scuffle. How do you deal with unleashed dogs that will not leave you alone, knowing a face to face meeting is out of the question? We actually had a Chihauhau of all things come after us last week, growling and snarling. Luckily Iris is deaf and I heard it coming before she knew it was there. I was able to pick Iris up in time to avoid something that certainly could have been ugly. The owner was across the street and I had to hold my words, he's of a family with a reputation for short tempers and irrational actions.
Now, what is really starting to get me is Iris seems to have no issues meeting dogs while she is off leash. I've taken two loose dogs in this year and it was zero issue. The first, my sister brought over because it was a friend's dog that got loose and wandered into town. She picked it up, but couldn't get ahold of the owner. She had an appointment and no fenced yard so she had me watch it for a half hour. They met at the fence, both tails wagging, happy as can be. We let her in and her and Iris sniffed each other out and all was well. Iris wanted to play and the other seemed to prefer just hanging out, so they just spent the time checking out the yard together. Yesterday I heard non-stop barking for 5 straight minutes. After the first minute I didn't think much of it, I checked and Iris was asleep on the couch so I knew it wasn't her. Then I realized that the neighbor's must be home (first time in probably 3 months) and it was their dog, so I went to see what the fuss was about. There was a dog (young female husky mix I think) running loose in her yard and she was right stressed out about it. I watched for a few minutes and then decided to try and take the loose dog in. Again, Iris was all happy at the fence, they were both bouncing around and wanted to play. It took a while for this other dog to come out of her shell a bit, I could tell she had minimal interaction. Did not respond well to any commands. So while they were playing I did some thinking where she belonged....she obviously spends the majority of her time outside. And then it dawned on me that she and Iris had met before while on a walk, and of course Iris nipped at her. So now that really made me wonder why there is such a difference. Same dogs, totally different outcome.
FWIW, I left a note at the house where I thought the dog belonged because none of the neighbors were capable to identify her and I was having no luck with an ID on the local facebook garage sale page. The owners came and got her about 4 hours later. Both she and Iris were quite played out.
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