Lulu- A Dog Reactivity Case Study

Lulu, a 7-month old Pug/Jack Russell Terrier, was adopted 6 weeks before from the Atlanta Humane Society.  Since Lulu’s adoption she exhibited severe reactivity on-leash when meeting unfamiliar people or dogs.  Her hackles would conspicuously rise, she would bark incessantly, and she would pull tenaciously on the leash.  Therefore, while on walks the owners were hesitant to allow her to approach neighborhood dogs and they avoided any off-leash interaction.  Yet, Lulu immediately got along well with the household cats.

The owners were unsure whether Lulu was aggressive or excitable when amidst other dogs.  Regardless of the origin, they realized that if Lulu’s behavior remained severely reactive that few neighbors would allow their dogs near Lulu.  Consequently, they called CPT for a private behavior modification appointment.

During the appointment, CPT analyzed Lulu as playful and nonaggressive, but excitable and lacking inhibitory control.   To resolve the problem, CPT designed specialized cognitive control drills.  The drills educated Lulu that calm behavior would provide her proximity to a volunteer dog, whereas pulling or noisy behavior would result in greater distance.

Thus, once Lulu understood the relationship between her behavior and the accomplishment of her goal- proximity to the volunteer dog- she became physically and vocally calmer, which, in accordance with the drill design, permitted her to gradually move closer to her objective of meeting the dog.  Once she remained calm within a 3-foot distance, we allowed her dropped-leash and later off-leash interaction.  The owners were very pleased to observe Lulu playing amicably with our volunteer dog, Zoey, a friendly Golden Retriever in our board training program that needed to work on her stay command and leash walking while amidst other dogs.

Below is a video of Lulu’s first off-leash interaction with another dog post her adoption:

If you have a dog that is exhibiting on or off-leash reactivity to other dogs, we highly recommend CPT’s private behavior modification, in-home behavior modification, and board training programs.  You will be glad you made the investment.  Your dog will be glad, too.

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