A few thoughts for the trail.
How many times have you been out with your dog and someone else has let their dog run up to yours with the phrase ‘it’s ok, he’s friendly’? Very frustrating isn’t it? Especially if you own a dog who is reactive, or perhaps doesn’t like other dogs in their space when you are training.
You might have a young dog who you want to train for a specific focus job, or you may have just had some bad experiences in the past.. either way it can be annoying, upsetting and sometimes a real confidence knocker…
There are things you can do to try and mitigate the impact of other dogs on you and your own dog while you are training and canicross can be quite a good medium for this.
DRESS YOURSELF UP!!
No, not in your finest attire, but instead wear something which is bright and clearly states that you both need space! A tabard is effective, as it can be printed on the front or reverse and clearly state things like ‘my dog needs space’, or ‘dog in training’.
BE ASSERTIVE ON THE TRAIL
Again, this doesn’t have to be a yelling competition or a stressful situation, but instead when you see other dogs coming towards you with an owner who isn’t really paying attention, stop and use it as a training opportunity for your own dog. Do an emergency stop, by firmly shouting ‘stop’. Praise your dog and then wait for the other owner to get their dog. You can call ahead and ask ‘please can you hold your dogs while we pass’. Most of the time people will do this for you. Walk calmly past, encouraging your dog to ‘on by’ and praise. Say a big thank you to the other dog walker and then slowly jog away with your dog. It shows great control over your own dog, but also visually tells others that you have stopped for a reason.
CHANGE YOUR ROUTE
You can always take a different path – a good training session should almost be a boring one – where you report back that you have had a lovely run just you and your dog with nothing to report home. So, if you come across other dogs and it looks like the owner isn’t prepared to recall their dogs, then stop and turn off the trail and go elsewhere. Don’t turn and run the other way as the other dogs might see this as a chase game and you will potentially be far more exciting than their human.
MUZZLE TRAIN YOUR DOG
This is mainly a last resort, or ideal if your dog tends to nip out rather than warn others. Muzzle training takes time, but ultimately it could be a real and literal life saver for those with dogs who have bitten or nipped previously. Muzzle training takes time, but wearing a muzzle doesn’t not stop dogs from participating in fun outdoor activities. You can run, hike and jog with a muzzled dog if you put the groundwork in first. If you are unsure, then seek support from a professional trainer to introduce the muzzle to the dog. We can direct you to reputable trainers if you need this. Don't forget though that muzzles don't always mean the dog bites, it could be that the dog likes to pick up food or other items when out, so the owner has muzzled them to avoid this. Either way, it can be a visual deterrent
to others and therefore mean less impact on your run.
A good fitting muzzle should be secure and allow the dog to pant open mouthed as well as drink from a water source if they need to.
TRAIN WITH OTHERS
By training in a group, your dog can be around other dogs who are all doing the same job. They can learn that groups of dogs are ok and that it can be fun. By being in a group, you can also have a shield when passing other dogs in training. Because your dog follows the dog in front and is busy, they will move past other dogs on the trail with less fuss. You can also hide yourself in the pack as it were so that you have a barrier.
Easier said than done, but its true. Instead of panicking when you see other dogs, take a breath and change it up, change direction, get them to focus on you and have a fuss, or even stop and walk calmly off the trail to ‘sniff’ for a few minutes. The more you relax and try not to get wound up, the easier it will become.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING…
Don’t let it ruin your time with your dog.
They don’t get out all day every day and go to work, for them you are the most important thing in their lives… These trail runs are fun, time to bond and an adventure for you both, don’t let other people impact on your time together..