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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I know that some of you have reactive dogs and I wanted to share something that seems to have helped a great deal with our lovely Lab of 3 months.
We've had other adopted dogs but our current situation is unique. Scout is a large, powerful, 2.5 year old, barrier reactive Lab. Our back yard is literally a game trail. We don't have a fence (impractical at our location) but taking him out on a check cord is working just fine. What hasn't been working just fine in the constant parade of game animals (squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, quail - and dozens of chicks, deer, our resident bobcat and likely an occasional mountain lion - not spotted in the backyard but caught on video a couple weeks ago in the front yard - where there are deer...I'm sure I've left out several other species) 15 feet from our large sliding glass door.
Scout's reactivity to this parade has been getting progressively worse (our last dog just loved the show and would watch all of this with little sign of excitement-but she wouldn't take her eyes off the deer - reliable providers of "trail treats").
Things hit a critical level two days ago. Scout was losing his mind over two deer passing through the backyard but they eventually passed and I thought we were through the worst of things for the moment. What I didn't see was the 3-4 month old fawn that had stayed behind, likely bedded down near by and hoping not to be noticed.
Likely frightened by Scout's outburst, the fawn tried to make it's way to the other deer that were now out of my sight. The little guy passed within 10 feet of scout and he lost it. Scout bolted against the glass chasing after the fawn and he gave no thought to the rapidly approaching wall. He's OK but it was quite an impact. He shattered a nail but that was the extent of the obvious injury (no signs of any other issues).
I've been looking for ways to address the barrier reactivity but this event called for immediate action.
I found some opaque film with a frosted texture that I could put on the lower halves of our sliding glass door.
I had hesitated in the past because I was concerned he'd be bored or miss the view out the door (most dogs do just fine without a parade of wildlife just feet away). My observations for the last two days are that he actually is much happier without the constant stimulation. His episodes of excessive energy are almost entirely gone. He's sleeping at my feet most of the day (he gets plenty of appropriate exercise) and he can go to another floor in the house if he wants to look outside (without the immediacy of the game).
If you're having issues with your dog reacting to anything just outside a window or door, I'd strongly encourage you to consider a frosted opaque film.
Below is a picture of out prior dog Lily (Golden) calmly watching a deer just outside the door "Dog TV".
The picture with Scout (the Lab) is the same location and he doesn't know that there's a deer in the same location when I took this picture. Without the film, this would have been an entirely different scene.

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I'm glad that worked for you. When Logan was younger, he would react by running and barking at car lights at night going by the front of the house. I pulled down all the shades and he stopped practicing that bad habit. Of course, the temptations out your windows sound much more exciting.
 

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I have never considered sheltering any of my dogs from the world and consider it a form of abuse.
Teaching obedience and providing adequate exercise solves the vast majority of behavioral problems in dogs.
If I could not do that, I wouldn't own a dog.

I suppose that sounds very blunt but that is my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have never considered sheltering any of my dogs from the world and consider it a form of abuse.
Teaching obedience and providing adequate exercise solves the vast majority of behavioral problems in dogs.
If I could not do that, I wouldn't own a dog.

I suppose that sounds very blunt but that is my opinion.
Blunt and off-base but that is my opinion.

He has an unobstructed view of an entire canyon and the wildlife is 30' from the upper level deck. It's his choice to go up there and sight see or he can go to his calm place downstairs. More often than not, he chooses the calm space now.

"...and he can go to another floor in the house if he wants to look outside (without the immediacy of the game)."

Tree of Heaven 2016_11_18.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Beautiful scenery
Thank you. It's really peaceful. With any luck it will stay that way. Right now it's all water shed and way too steep to build on given the current codes.
We are also the first spot on our side of the entire canyon coming from the left (west) with a slope that most of the wildlife can easily navigate. There is a three foot wide gap in the junipers about where the tree on the right is located (it is how we - and everyone else - can access our property below the junipers). My game camera captures everything coming to and from the canyon and at times it is non-stop (not to mention the quail that live under the junipers).
 

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Blunt and off-base but that is my opinion.

He has an unobstructed view of an entire canyon and the wildlife is 30' from the upper level deck. It's his choice to go up there and sight see or he can go to his calm place downstairs. More often than not, he chooses the calm space now.

"...and he can go to another floor in the house if he wants to look outside (without the immediacy of the game)."

View attachment 884329
That’s gorgeous. Our mountains aren’t as big as yours, but we have a screened porch and an open porch where Logan can see a variety of animals — so far, black bears, deer, wild turkeys, foxes, and jack rabbits. I love nature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That’s gorgeous. Our mountains aren’t as big as yours, but we have a screened porch and an open porch where Logan can see a variety of animals — so far, black bears, deer, wild turkeys, foxes, and jack rabbits. I love nature.
Wow, black bears in the back yard! Black bears have been captured on security cameras about a mile away but I'm telling myself that they haven't made it up the hill to our place. We do know that there are moose nearby. The wild turkeys are on the far slope (I think I've caught Scout trying to get a peak through the spotting scope). Also, these hills are the foothills in our neighborhood. The real mountains are in the other direction (think Snowbird, Alta and Park City) but these really are great for daily outings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Update - The opaque film has been a Godsend!

The equivalent in situations where we have a lot less control (think reacting to a number of different things when we are visiting friends/family), is getting Scout away from the stimulus ASAP if he shows signs of reacting (his threshold) and giving him time (3-5 minutes) to "cool down." This has also proven extremely effective. We've have to do this 5-10 times in an evening (at our in-laws) but we are able to stay through the evening and he's not wound up at the end of the night.

We even started to remove Scout from the dock diving staging area at first sign he be might getting grumpy (I'm sure the other handlers appreciate this as well). That clearly sends the message that dropping the reactivity leads to a lot more fun and he responds well to both the break and the chance to "reset."

The overall result is that I've been sitting here at the computer with a neighbor's dog barking (left unattended in their backyard) for the last 30 minutes, a situation that had my hackles up, annoyed AND worried that Scout might react. Nope, Scout does not seem the least bit interested in disturbing his 'rest day' over something some other dog can't let go (likely the deer on the hill). Scout is getting there (where ever "there" is).

To give credit where credit is due, I spent the second or third day of sitting amongst my computer table and lunch having been launched across the room by Scout searching for a solution (my way of saying I was highly motivated). The Wisconsin Humane Society has a web-page, pdf and video on dealing with "barrier reactivity." Opaque film on our door was a minor variation on their theme.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Always interesting to read the different creative solutions, Thanks for taking the time to post :)
I know I have learned a lot (and have a lot to learn) from how others manage some of the challenges we all experience with our dogs. Glad you found the post interesting.
 
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