A month or two ago I wrote about how the neighbor’s dog began visiting our yard during the day. I thought maybe interacting with him could help Chihiro calm down about other dogs. Unfortunately, I think the opposite has happened.
I really should have known better. Chihiro has been wary of other dogs ever since getting attacked by one (even though she won the fight, because the dog that started it was a little Puggle), so when teaching her to feel comfortable again around other dogs, I should take her to neutral territory with dogs I know and trust.
For a while after Chihiro started seeing Tigger in our yard, she started being really jumpy. She’d leap up and bark at the smallest sounds in the yard; sometimes even just the wind in the leaves, or sounds so quiet Jon and I didn’t even hear them. At first we couldn’t figure out why she was suddenly so jumpy, but then I had a guess: it was because of Tigger. Now Chihiro knows another dog is sneaking into her territory, and it makes her extra vigilant.
Thankfully, Chihiro’s vigilance has not developed into aggression. She’s just more likely to jump up and bark and small sounds, but she hasn’t shown any aggressive body language while doing so. We’re still discouraging her from this behavior; if nothing else’s it’s annoying. It’s also nothing new with her. She used to bark a lot more when she was younger, when we lived in the apartment. I think it’s because she could see a lot of other people and dogs walking by through our window all of the time.
To get her back out of the habit, we’ve used the same method as before: a spray bottle. It’s humane, it stops her in her tracks, and it distracts her from whatever she’s barking at. She’s already shown a lot of improvement. The one thing I’m not sure she’ll ever improve about is being comfortable with Tigger in the yard, at least not without interacting with other dogs.
My dog is never going to forget that another dog attacked her. It hasn’t made her aggressive, but it’s made her wary. She wants her personal space, and she doesn’t want other dogs she doesn’t know to come into her territory. If we got another dog, we’d have to determine the alpha and treat them accordingly, but they would work it out. As it is, her introduction to other dogs should take place in neutral territories, or in theirs, and it should be dogs we know well.
My experiment might have failed, but it could have gone worse. It’s taught me to accept how Chihiro feels about other dogs, and what I need to do if I want to start on the road to improving that.