Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Why Owning A Reactive Dog is Like Grieving


I'm beginning to really loathe March. This past month has not been the best of months, it's been nonstop raining for most of the month. Endless days of rain is never good for anyone who struggles with depression and I'm not any different. Trigger Warning. I'm learning that having a reactive dog is a lot like constantly going through the 5+ stages of grieving. There's denial, bargaining, anger, depression and finally acceptance. It's not linear and the past couple of days I've been going through pretty much all of them and feeling them all at the same time.

From being so upset that I didn't want to get out of bed and even look at a dog, to being completely angry and upset with her previous owners that I hoped they never get another dog, being angry at myself for all my stupid mistakes back in the early days of having her (I'm never angry at her and I know her issues are not her fault), to even bargaining: Oh if only I had just done this differently... or I wish I could go back in time, I wish I had gotten her as a puppy, or maybe if I just try harder or try something else... To just really mourning the life we could of had if she had been socialized properly and not gone through her previous traumas.

I don't regret adopting her, she's taught me so many things and it's because of her that I am the trainer I am. She's my heart dog, my freaking ray of sunshine (which only a select few get to see), the reason I get out of bed every morning, the only dog I've ever had that wanted to be with me and play my stupid games, which makes it so much worse when things go wrong. It's hard to not get emotional when something goes wrong with a being you love more than anything else in the world. I don't have any family other than my husband but I have these dogs and they mean more to me than I have words to describe it.

I promised you guys a while ago that I would always be honest with you and tell things how it is. We are all human, we all make mistakes and the past two weeks have just been awful screw ups and errors in judgement on both my husband and myself.


From the stupid hypothermia incident at the river, to getting charged by two shepherds and having a snarky incident, we are having a rough two weeks. I didn't really go public about the incident with the two German Shepherds but literally the day after the river incident we got charged by two huge shepherds. The owner had no control over them and they pummeled both of my dogs. None of us saw them coming and it was a big snark fest. Phoenix ended up bleeding from a tooth getting knocked. Once the owner got control over his dogs, things were okay, there were no other wounds or anything. We ended up leaving the park.

From there we had our 3rd Treibball class, this was Phoenix's second time going. The first class she missed. I got to work super early and ended up walking her around the neighborhood. After our walk they ended up letting me into the building so we could hang out and not be out in the rain. I had about 20 minutes before I was "on the clock" so I spent the entire time playing with Phoenix in the large play room where we teach our classes. I want her to have a great association with the place. I want her to feel like when we go to training it's just us doing more silly games and to keep stress low.  While we taught our first class, Phoenix was in the lobby/office hanging out. She was so good and didn't bark at all. 

A video posted by Lauren Miller (@zoepheedogs) on


There are only 3 other students in her Treibball class and she's been doing great in class. She's been playing the games that are being taught, she's been tugging with me and she has been pretty good about being around other dogs that she does not know. I've been able to keep her attention and I've been happy with her progress and hopeful that I was on the right track with her.

Sorry for the cell phone pics, I can't drag my DSLR to class.

On Monday during her class, she had a couple of freezes when the dogs would run by. Sometimes she would stop and stare at them but I was able to just feed it and get her attention back on me. Easy peasy.. no real outburst or huge reactions, she did at one point have a very "nervous tail" where she watched a dog and was wagging really hard. Her tail wagging like that is not a sign of happiness, it's a sign of arousal and one of the signs she is going to react. I worked hard on keeping her arousal sort of medium-ish and on the game we were playing. She did really well and class was not a big deal. She gave me some amazing focus. After class she even met our trainer's sheltie and they wandered around together while we cleaned up. Things were going really well.

Checking out the 45cm ball, Phoenix will need a 55cm!

By the time it was time to go home, things were going so well that I made the mistake of asking for more. Knowing when to quit when you're ahead is important and I messed up. I asked our trainer if she thought we could intro Phoenix to her other dog as well. I figured we'd be working together and we might as well try to get the dogs used to each other.

Phoenix has always been fine with on leash greetings, she's been fine with dogs who are her size or smaller. She's been to Pet Expo and passed dogs on leash, she's done Doggie Dash and walked with hundreds of dogs on leash. She's been at some crazy events and done better than Zoe. Both of my dogs used to go to work with me every day at the vet clinic and hanging out at a vet clinic is extremely stressful. She was able to pass and greet dogs at the vet clinic. She's always been one to try and avoid conflict whenever she can. She would get nervous sometimes but not flip her shit. She's gotten defensive with dogs for rushing into her bubble when she didn't see it coming but never just for a quick on leash greeting to say hi with calm well trained dogs.

The greeting with both dogs on leash in the lobby didn't go well and Phoenix snapped at them and she scared the crap out of them. I am honestly not sure if she actually connected but I think she did.

The look on my trainer's dog's faces was so sad and it's not something that I've been easily able to let go. I cried the whole way home and most of Tuesday as well. I have never wanted to be that person with **that** dog, the one that traumatizes another person's dogs or makes someone else's dogs scared and upset. 

Nobody was hurt and she didn't draw blood but to say that I was shocked would be a complete understatement. She has never gone after dogs like that before in that context unless they were trying to eat her first. I guess there's a first for everything and that makes me the asshole owner who says, "OMG! She's never done that before!!!". We've all heard someone say it and we've all rolled our eyes. Great. I just joined the dumb ass dog owner club. Seriously, no one can beat me up more than I am already kicking myself.

My trainer, bless her, was really nice about the whole thing. She said that Phoenix is a great dog, that she's doing so well in class and that she's seen worse. It's not that big of a deal and to not apologize. (I kept apologizing... and couldn't stop). She told me that Phoenix is still welcome to come back to class. We worked out a plan to make sure that what happened wouldn't happen again and Phoenix will be going straight to the car after class. She also mentioned doing intros differently, parallel walking and circle walking, which I am familiar with and have done in the past. I don't know if we will try introducing them again, probably not.

So it just brings me back to why the heck I thought greeting two dogs on leash in a tiny lobby at 10 o'clock at night was a brilliant idea. It was not. We were all fried. We were all tired and obviously Phoenix was completely out of spoons and likely trigger stacked from the previous incidents that we've had in the past few days.

I'm so embarrassed and I feel so stupid for trying to intro the dogs and pretty much like such an inexperienced idiot. I put someone else's dogs in danger and I thoroughly regret it. I am really sad and disappointed in myself for setting my dog up for failure, too. Phoenix has come a really long way from the scared little dog who shivered in the corner and wouldn't let anyone touch her but apparently, she still has a few lessons up her sleeve for me.

Phoenix gets a home made bandana.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't tired of dealing with reactivity. It's exhausting and depressing. Having to constantly worry about her and keeping people and their dogs away from her. Having to peek out my door to make sure the coast is clear before I let them walk into the hallway, having to tell everyone my dogs are not friendly, even though Zoe really is and would like to say hi. Getting dirty looks from other dog owners because I've had to tell them to get their dogs because "mine aren't friendly". Being known as the grumpy lady with the "mean, skittish little dog" (even though she's never done anything to any of my neighbor's dogs) is frustrating. It just really wears me down.

I will never give up on Phoenix but sometimes I do wish we had a cabin in the woods somewhere away from everyone else. In the city there's a dog around every corner. I know that I'm lucky she's less reactive than most but I think I'm a bit unlucky in that she's "silent, but deadly". People think that both of my dogs are so cute and because she doesn't give traditional reactive warnings or outbursts that she's fine and we've had a lot of problems because of it. 

I guess I am lucky she's "a mostly functional" reactive dog.



In the end, I know it was only a bad moment, not even a bad day and certainly not a bad life. She is an amazing dog, a wonderful companion and she's so much fun. I totally see the good in her. I wish other people could, too. She will still be going to Treibball and she's going to Impulse Control classes, too. I always hope that with a little more work she might get better and more comfortable around other dogs. I'm not quite ready to just accept that this is the way things will always be.

What is your biggest struggle with your reactive dog? Does it feel like grieving to you, too?

43 comments:

  1. Not every dog is a warm fuzzy dog with everyone and every thing. Bailie loves everything. I'm more reserved, and honestly, I don't like dogs much, but I adore people. If other dogs leave me alone, I'm happy, but I snap if they get in my face or try to sniff my butt. It is the way it is. Mom wishes I wasn't bitchy that way, but we know it, we deal with it and go on. Dogs are a challenge every day which is part of the reason people love us. You will work through this latest challenge and things will get better. Look at it one day at a time as everything together is overwhelming.

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  2. Great post! I love how honest you are. I don't think I've ever compared my dog's reactivity to grieving, although I can see how the analogy fits. I try not to dwell on the negativity too much. My dogs' issues are part of who they are, they wouldn't be the same dogs' otherwise. No dog is perfect, and their imperfections give us something to work on improving together. Although it can be hard sometimes - we have bad days too. I think Phoenix sounds like an amazing dog. She's so much more than just her reactivity. Who cares if some other people don't see that? You do, and that's what matters.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle! I've actually been told a couple of times to focus on the good things that happened, which was why I tried to include some of them in the post, too. I know it's not all bad and she is a great dog. I think I'm just out of spoons this week, too.

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  3. Learning to work with her will make you stronger and better, as well as her. The tough lessons are hard for a reason, if it's worth it it isn't easy. Hang in there!

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    1. Thank you, De! You're absolutely right.

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  4. I'm sorry. I certainly understand based on having three reactive dogs before Honey came home with us.

    More than grieving, I remember being on a constant state of high alert. So much so that when Shadow, in particular, showed real improvement, I nearly missed it because I was so tense.

    I hope you can feel some grace in how well your sweet girl is doing compared to how she'd be without all the training and work. You're giving her a start toward a normal life.

    Do you have any nose work classes near you? Because they're the perfect dog sport for reactive dogs. To avoid distraction, dogs work a course one at a time. Other dogs wait in a crate (often in another room or if temps make sense, the car). I bet Phoenix would love it.

    Best of all, using the nose intensively build confidence.

    Honey does not have a reactive bone in her body. But I've definitely seen nose work games building her confidence. It

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    1. Thanks Pamela, yeah I am always on high alert too. That's probably a contributing factor to the exhaustion. I was mentally worn out when I wrote this. It's not even that I'm afraid she will eat every dog we see because that's just not the case. 9 times out of 10 she's fine. I'm afraid something like the shepherd incident will happen again, she'll get scared and react badly. I guess I'm lucky that when she gets snarky she's completely inhibited and never hurt anyone.

      I am not sure about the nosework classes. I think one of the trainers I work with might teach them. I could be potentially helping out with her nw class soon but they may not run it if they don't get enough students. I think Phoenix would be great at NW and I've done some scent discrimination with her already. :) Thank you for the suggestion.

      I'm so glad Honey isn't reactive! I hope my next dog is more like her.

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  5. You said two shepherds had a go at the girls. Could it be her reaction to the trainers dogs was fear of another attack? Somehow it seems these two things are related.

    Have a woof woof day you two. My best to your worried mom. ☺

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    1. Hi Sandee, Phoenix is a nervous/fearful dog already and you are absolutely correct that the shepherd incident had something to do with her going after my trainer's dogs. It's called trigger stacking. Basically too many things happened to Phoenix this week and her stress hormones were too high to deal with anything else. I asked for too much and basically set her up to fail. Which is why I am so mad at myself.

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  6. Oh goodness; I can relate to every single word of this.

    I'm usually so exhausted by the end of the day just from having to make sure everything I do with Laika is as stress free as possible. It's tiring, it really is.

    Like you I think of her as my heart dog. I mean it's hard not to when you work so close all the time & develop such a bond. And while I'm thankful that I'm learning a lot I'd never say "and I wouldn't change a thing."

    If I could wave a magic wand & make her less reactive I would. It's no fun living with anxiety, and I hate the fact that my dog goes through it so often.

    Thank you for sharing this; it's important to remember that we're not alone. Even when you're out walking your dog at 4am so you don't run into anyone else, you're not alone, even if it feels like it.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jen! While I feel bad that you are going through it, too... it's nice to not be alone in my feelings. That's what I do as well with Phoenix. I try my best to keep things as stress free as possible. It's not that I think she will eat every dog she meets because 9 times out of 10 she's usually fine. It's that I worry that something like the shepherd incident will happen again. Dogs running up and being rude do tend to get a poor reaction out of her.

      I definitely feel the same way about changing stuff. I would totally take away her fear, anxiety and reactivity as well. I really wish I could and that she could just be a normal dog.

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  7. I think you're being really hard on yourself Lauren. It was a long day, she may have been tired or sore or just had enough. It happens to humans so why can't it happen to dogs? You do amazing things with your dogs, you've made some amazing progress with her, don't let one tiny moment at the end of a long tiring day take away all of the things you have accomplished with her!! Focus on all those good things and all the milestones she's had.

    I don't grieve for the struggles I have with Delilah and her reactivity, most of my issues truly come from other clueless dog owners. I know I can redirect Delilah's focus, but what I can't do is manage it when another dog is determined to 'meet her.' What makes me a bit sad is she can't be off-leash, but that is it.

    Just me and my thoughts, but I cannot grieve my dog who has had made such leaps and bounds with her behaviors and in the process wound herself around my heart.

    HUGS Lauren, and please, be gentle with yourself.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jodi! I just feel so bad for my trainer's dogs and I am really mad at myself for setting Phoenix up to fail, too. I'm trying to move on from it but I keep having dark thoughts, pretty much "if I can't even help my own dog, how am I supposed to help others." She has come a seriously long way from where she was but I've also noticed some definite backsliding, especially since we moved to what I call "reactive dog hell" aka my apartment complex. I've also had a lot of issues with clueless dog owners as well. People can be very oblivious and it can be frustrating. Most of Phee's reactivity is based in that, other people allowing their dogs to rush up to her in a rude manner will scare her and she has reacted poorly to that in the past.

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  8. Big hugs - we are right there with you. Thanks for sharing the bad and the ugly, as well as the good. I just put my reactive Habi in a "flooding" situation when I absolutely knew better, which has set her back once again. You and Phoenix will get through this, as Habi and I will. Lastly - how cool that you have a Treibball class! We learned it at home, and both dogs love, love, love it!

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm so sorry you're going through it too! Flooding can be really easy to do and I've been there! ((hugs))

      Phoenix really is loving her treibball class. It's been a lot of fun teaching something I've never taught before!

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  9. I'm sorry. Truly, truly sorry. I've never dealt with reactivity aside from some adolescent reactivity/prey drive with Nola towards bikes when she was 1-2 years old, but I can imagine how frustrating and hopeless it feels.

    I think you'll just have to not be so hard on yourself. When you have a dog like Phoenix, an accident is bound to happened. Sooner or later, and probably when you least expect it. I'm sure your trainer understands that, too.

    Hugs! You're so brave for sharing this. <3

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    1. Thanks so much. Yeah, unfortunately I'm only human and mistakes happen sometimes. I'm lucky that she's less reactive than most and more easily managed. I honestly think she would of been fine to greet those dogs had none of the other crappy incidents happened to her this week. I set her up to fail and I asked her for too much. I know better and I'm better than this. Which is why I am so mad at myself. Hopefully her new bandanna will help to remind me not to be stupid.

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  10. I'm agreeing with Jodi and Nola on this one. You are being way to hard on yourself. :-) We totally get it though. Ziva has been my reactive dog project, she is hard to predict but I think i've figured out most of her triggers at this point. Dogs that come straight at her set her off, when out on a walk I try to put them in a sit stay or pull our her ball when we see another dog but sometimes she is still a punk. The other day for no reason that I could tell, while we were out walking she snarled and lunged at a small dog on the sidewalk across the street from us! Thankfully we were all on leash, but I was so upset because the last thing I want is for people to have a reason to blame the breed saying its just because she's a "pit bull" and they are just mean. :-(
    What it tells me though is that this winter she hasn't had enough doggy interactions and I need to start doing more of our formal training sessions and threshold stuff that was working with her.
    We totally get where you are coming from, and you are doing a great job! I love the scarf, I've been thinking of finding a vest for Dante/Ziva that says "In Training, Please IGNORE." Not because they aren't friendly but because when it comes to people they are over friendly, and Dante has gotten bad about dragging me over to meet someone as soon as they give him eye contact. LoL

    We all have our issues, you are not alone in this.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I am my own worst critic and I've always been harder on myself than I probably deserve but it was my fault and I set everyone up to fail. I asked for too much. I'm hoping her new bandanna also reminds me to not be stupid.

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  11. Loving can be exhausting can't it? Give yourself a break and you will have more energy to help her. We hope the sun comes out soon. All your weather is hitting us too.

    Keep Calm & Bark On!

    Murphy & Stanley

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    1. Thanks boys! I hope the sun comes out soon, too! You are totally right about everything!

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  12. Rita can be reactive too in certain situations too. We definitely have ups and downs, and some days are harder than others. I feel the same way - the hubs and I always say that we wish everyone knew her as the sweetie that we do. I think the biggest frustration is not understanding exactly what sets her off. I used to think it was just bigger dogs or dogs that barked/snarked at her first, but everyonce in a while, she'll have an over the top reaction to a small dog that's just calmly walking by on the opposite side of the street.. WtH? It's mostly two steps forward... but some days we take one step back. Hopefully you'll be back to "steps forward" again! I feel ya!

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    1. Thanks so much! Poor Rita! I completely understand! Phoenix can be a little unpredictable too. Sometimes she's fine and sometimes she's not. It's so weird and frustrating!

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  13. Lauren, you have done amazing things with Phoenix. Don't allow a moment in time take away from all the progress you've made. Ducky is reactive towards strangers, especially those who come into our house. I work with her, but sometimes it seems like every step forward is accompanied by three steps backward. You are not alone. Those of us with reactive dogs understand and support you. We tip our hats off to you as well. Those dog owners who criticize you have never walked in your shoes so let it go in one ear and out the other.

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    1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!

      I am so sorry that Ducky is nervous with people! I totally know what you mean about three steps backward!

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  14. Sorry it's been a tuff month. I've had my isshoes wif dogs bigger than me too, ever since I wuz attacked by an off-leash dog one time. Da worst I ever embarrassed momma wuz when I tried to start a fight wif a seein-eye dog. Now, I'm mostly too crippled and old to start stuff, but I do bark from my stroller sometimes.

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    1. Thank you! <3 I'm so sorry you were attacked!

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  15. Lauren, we love you and we appreciate your honesty. It has always made me feel so much better, when struggling with a dog, to read about someone feeling the same way.

    I can't tell you how many times I've looked at Nala and thought some version of--I wish I had had you when you were a puppy, and known every single thing then that I know now. That's a tall, impossible order! But I've wished it a lot.

    And like Jen said above--attending to the needs of a fearful, anxious, or reactive dog can be so exhausting. Nala isn't even reactive, as you know--she just flattens and gets shut down and sad when she's overwhelmed by either novelty or nearby traffic. This evening, we had the most lovely, wonderful walk together near our neighborhood, outside of our six safe streets. She actually really enjoyed, and wasn't worried for, almost every moment of it. We moved really quickly through the scary parts, where I provided tons of support for her, and took detours through deserted parking lots and big fields surrounded by small hills that blocked Nala's view of the road. She was so happy. I was so proud of her. I was so proud of me! I did an awesome job keeping her from getting wrapped up in her worry.

    But as we rounded the corner just before the street with our house I thought...Oh my god, I am so exhausted. I can't do this every day. It's too hard! When do people not drive at all? Can I walk her then? It used up every dang spoon I had. And Nala isn't even reactive!

    What I'm trying to say is--the work you do with Phoenix is awesome. Her world is so big and so rich because of you! Please cut yourself a break and feel free to quit early next week. :)

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    1. Thank you so much! It's really good to have so much support from people who understand how I feel and have been there in some way, even if Nala isn't reactive being able to relate to the pure exhaustion dealing with a fearful dog can be. That's kind of why I wrote this and put it out there publicly, in hopes that it would help someone to not feel alone. I think having a reactive dog can be isolating sometimes and it's easy to feel like nobody gets it, especially when dog owners will friendly dogs are so quick to judge.

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  16. Hey, stop beating yourself up, friend! You are a GREAT dog mom, so much better than most. I shudder to think of what Phoenix's life would be like with anyone else. The incident with the Shepherds was not your fault or your dogs fault! We've had issues when two related dogs have gone after mine, it's kind of like a pack mentality. And don't feel bad about the cold water incident, that was hardly tragic and that could happen with anyone's dog. Every training I've ever been in has had at least one reactive dog. Phoenix had probably hit her limit for the day & that's the way she communicated that. No one was injured, just rattled. We are always learning about our dogs' limits, it's an ongoing process. Please remember you're doing an awesome job with both your dogs, don't let these incidents or minor setbacks get you down. Focus on the amazing progress you've made & will continue to make with Phoenix!
    Love & (extra) biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Thanks Cathy! I really appreciate your support! <3

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  17. I totally understand how you feel, Lauren, but I also think you are too hard on yourself. I am impressed with how far you have come with Phoenix. I once said the same thing about how I just wanted people to be able to know and love the Luke that we know. That is one thing I love about having the blog...people get to see that side of him. But if you wanted to meet him in person? That is not so easy.
    I worry that I am not doing enough for him to try to help him, and I worry about what happens if he is sick or injured and he won't let the vet near him.
    Our recent move was made so much more challenging by having to keep him away from all the strangers, and telling people why over and over again. But I did find that most people were very understanding about it. I always want to make it clear that he is fearful, not aggressive, but that we have to keep everyone safe because fear could make him lash out.
    We are all just doing the best we can for our pets, and sometimes we make mistakes. You never give up and that is admirable!

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    1. Thanks so much, Jan! I'm sorry that Luke is so fearful, too! You are right about other people getting to see the good in them through the blog. Thank you for your support! I really appreciate it!

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  18. As you know my Hailey is a very anxious dog. I have shared many of the same feelings as you. There are days where it feels beyond me, but I know I wouldn't trade her for the world. May tomorrow be an easier day.

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  19. Oh man. This hits home. I've also had an absolutely horrendous March. I think my depression is coming back because of my stepdad's recent diagnosis. Pretty much everything you've talked about, I've been through. Lately I've been feeling like a horrible mom because I haven't been doing enough with my dogs. I'm working on it, but it's hard. I'm constantly beating myself up. I'm glad that we can understand each other!

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    1. I'm so sorry you've had a bad March, too! :( ((hugs))

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  20. Huge hugs to you. Everyone else has covered the exhaustion and hypervigilence really well and I can see how riding is an apt metaphor. I hope you and the pup are feeling rested and recharged now.

    I do think the point you're at -- where she's usually fine and you're starting to it have to worr so much about it all the time -- can be uniquely challenging, both because every reaction feels like a failure/setback (and personal referendum on your training/handling) instead of status quo and because it can be harder to see the progress when the dog is "almost normal" much of the time. And worrying about what others think is really hard, too.

    But dogs are themselves, with their own thoughts and feelings and moods, and the world is not a 100% predictable place, and we're only people, you know? We can't control and foresee everything. We can only do the best we can do.

    So do that, and try not to take through bits too much to heart, you know?

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    1. Thanks so much, Hannah! I think you are absolutely correct about being at the point where she's usually fine and then when something happens it's a "huge failure". Right now I am working with an awesome trainer who has a lot of experience with teaching reactive dogs and we were talking about the same thing. I'm hoping I can get some private lessons soon to make sure I'm doing everything the way I should be.

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  21. I just found your blog and I must say what a relief it is that we aren't the only ones struggling with this behavior! We have a rescue dog, Bailey, who came to us last August from an animal shelter. She was a stray so we don't know any of her history, but we assume she was badly abused by a man, as she is most afraid of my husband, even still. She is hyper-reactive to any activity outside the house as well as hyper-vigilant about anything going on inside the house. I am not a dog trainer, so have no idea what to do with her behavior. I don't take her for walks because of the way she reacts to other dogs and people. She cries loudly and struggles to get to whatever the stimulus is. I also have a 5 year old american pit bull terrier. The two of them have become best friends. He also is stressful to walk or travel with because of his anxiety, whining and crying the entire time, at increasing decibels. Your Phoenix looks very similar to my Bailey, I have no idea what breeds she is, but she is very prey driven (squirrels, bunnies, other dogs). Sorry this is a book. Anyway, your dogs look like they are amazingly well behaved and I would love any words of advice you have to give. Keep up the great work.

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    1. Hi Kate, thank you so much for stopping by and I'm so glad you found some comfort in my post. You're definitely not alone. The best advice I can give you is to find a positive reinforcement trainer who has experience with reactive dogs. Look for someone who has taught reactive rover classes and make sure they don't use any sort of aversive training techniques or equipment. I would also recommend getting a few books. Help For Your Fearful Dog by Nicole Wilde is amazing and she also has a DVD seminar that you can get on the subject that goes with the book. Scaredy Dog By Ali Brown is a great one, too! You may also want to check out Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out by Laura VanArondonk Baugh.

      That's great that your two dogs are friends! It's so much easier when the dogs in the household like each other! As for your other dog's anxiety, you want to look into working with a professional for that as well.

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  22. Thanks for telling us "like it is". It sounds super tough. I've made similarly bad decisions with Shyla, like your leash greeting in the lobby at 10PM. It's so hard not to ask for more when things are going well (at least for me). In my case, Shyla won't snap when I've pushed too hard. Instead, she completely shuts down (picture her collapsed on the floor unable to move from fear). It's a different kind of reactivity. It breaks my heart - so I understand your feelings to some extent. You've done such an amazing job with Phoenix - and I have no doubt that you'll learn and not make the same mistake again. Seriously, Phoenix hit the jackpot when you adopted her... and vice versa.

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