Reactive Dogs, Kids & Coronavirus
with Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie of PathandPaw, Training Advocate

Coronavirus has us all practicing social distancing - but also getting creative about how to do our part without going bonkers.


The one "good" thing about this pandemic, is that having a reactive dog has always made me practice social distancing! Six feet? Let's try ten! The way that we are navigating around one another during this crisis is actually quite similar to how many reactive dog owners navigate their triggers (which for some of us can be lots of things!) all the time.


Today I met up with a mom friend at a big open park, so we could chat with the 6+ feet necessary between us and enjoy the sunshine with our littles. Having a reactive dog around little ones can be a bit of a challenge. It's SO important to keep our dogs under threshold, especially in these situations when we don't want to exacerbate any possible negative associations and we don't want to potentially scare the kiddos. This particular friend is mama to two twin girls that are now fully mobile, curious little people. So I haven't really brought Muchacho around them. But when we talked about meeting at the park, she mentioned that, as awkward as she felt about it, she was planning on bringing her girls' leashes.


What a GREAT management tool in times like these! First of all - chasing TWO newly mobile toddlers is a LOT of work. In somewhat contained playgrounds or wide open spaces with no danger, of course, she let's them explore. But enforcing social distancing with adventurous little people is challenging! And all the more with two littles to one adult.


So because of those two layers of management (social distancing and leashes), taking Mooch out for a park visit was an easy choice. And man the park was POPPIN'! It was actually beautiful to see so many people taking advantage of having no work, or kids home from school, and getting outside to enjoy the sunshine at a safe distance from others. This made is a great opportunity for us to practice counter-conditioning - with the kids, of course, but also with many dogs, joggers and golfers. Mooch did great and enjoyed the park with zero reactions.


So owners of reactive dogs - I encourage you to take advantage of this time when (almost) everyone is maintaining a little more distance between one another. Load up your treat pouches, head outside, and get to counter-conditioning!