Every apartment building has at least one reactive dog, the dog everyone goes out of the way to avoid. Reactive dogs bark, growl, lunge, and potentially snap at other dogs or humans. When not handled properly, they may be dangerous. In close and crowded spaces, such as hallways and elevators, pet parents must take care to avoid dog conflicts.
Basic Training to Avoid dog conflicts
A few basic skills will help you keep your dog out of trouble, whether your dog is reactive or not.
- Stay calm. Your tension can increase your dog’s anxiety. If you are nervous, you may be unconsciously signalling your dog that strangers and other dogs are scary.
- Invest in the collar or harness that gives you the most control of your dog. A head halter, like Gentle Leader, can be very useful for dogs that pull on the leash or lunge suddenly. You want to be in control of your dog at all times. Every dog is different, and what works for others may not work for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of restraint devices.
- Basic obedience commands such as “sit” and “stay” are indispensable. Other commands that may be very useful are “behind me” and “wait.”
- Train your dog to go through doors only when you give the command.
Avoiding dog conflicts in the elevator
Elevators can be particularly nerve-wracking spaces for dog parents, because they are confined and often crowded. Following some simple rules will help make elevator rides safe for you and your dog.
- Keep your dog on a tight leash and under your control.
- Stay back a few feet to wait for the elevator. This will allow you to see who is in the elevator before your dog rushes in. Use your judgment. If the elevator is crowded, it may be better to take the next one.
- Ask your dog to sit in the back of the elevator, or a corner.
- Place your body in between your dog and other passengers or dogs.
- If your dog needs more distance, don’t be afraid to ask others to back away.
- Have your dog wait to exit until you give the command.
Safety in corridors
Corridors are similar to elevators. They may be narrow and crowded, and it may be difficult to avoid passing other dogs in close quarters.
- Keep your dog on a tight leash
- If you see another dog approaching, move to the far wall and put your dog in a “sit” or “down” until the other dog has passed.
- Be careful not to jerk your dog’s leash when you encounter another dog. This may teach her to react when dogs approach. Instead, get her attention in other ways, using a treat or calling her name. Once you have her attention, you may move to put your body between her and the other dog.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and move carefully around corners and near doors to avoid sudden encounters. Unexpected meetings can startle your pet and may trigger dog conflicts.
Use common sense and your best judgment in everyday situations. If you are aware of a reactive dog in your building, try to learn her schedule and avoid going out at the sames times. If your dog is reactive, avoid taking him out during congested times. Seek out a trainer to help you learn techniques to desensitize or control him. You can learn more at the American Association of Animal Hospitals.