Thank you for taking the time to work on your dogs reactivity. It can only get better with practice and that means YOU have to be a part of the solution. Spend a few weeks working diligently and you’ll be able to relax a bit then a bit more then a bit more.
Anyone who has been through the 6-week class, is invited to participate and practice in any future classes (it’s also good for the dogs to have new dogs to work through). Feel free to come to any class after the first one – which is a lot of housekeeping 🙂
If you have your dogs back…they don’t need to respond – be sure to always look out for them (even if you’re not going to be around!!)
Bodies between Dogs
Take a breath….chances are you’re bringing something to the equation, so be sure to work on relaxing yourself, finding ways to keep it fun and light and to not add stress to the situation
If you’re going to turn away…Turn into your Dog
If things are going sideways….Get Distance. If you can’t get enough distance, get your dog up onto something for some height or get down to their height (for support).
The goal is success; so set yourselves up by bringing along some chicken, liver, cheese or hotdogs – and be generous. We’re trying to overcoming a behavior that has been working incredibly well, so we need something strong to break the pattern.
Practice Leave it! before you go out for your walks; it’s tough to remember how to do something if you only do it when you’re freaked out. During your walks, continue to practice Leave it! as well as sitting, looking at you, touching your hand, etc
Don’t let your dog get pressured or cornered
Understand that this is going to take some time…especially if multiple people walk the dog. Many dogs need between 20 and 200 successful repetitions before they begin to overcome their reactivity.
You have three choices available (1) Wait and practice distraction behaviors (get as much distance as necessary and possible), (2) Moving Leave it! - walk past other dog (bodies between dogs) and (3) Emergency U-turns, turn into your dog and keep tension out of the leash.
Shy, anxious, fearful dogs often need something to focus on - at least initially. Teach your pup the Look behavior and then encourage it whenever they see another dog. At first they won't be able to do it for long but with practice most will excel.
To work on this, me and the pup go as far as we have to into the yard to be comfortable enough to take a treat when a dog walks past. The key to getting success here is to go slow and work in small increments. Also try not to let your dog get away with carrying on when you're not there to manage the behavior. And be sure your pup is getting enough exercise.
Set up a playgroup with a mature dog who will correct the puppy - appropriately. This can actually work well for many young adult dogs who also come on too strong. The key is finding a large and appropriate dog to interact with.
Teach your dog something to do anytime a dog comes close (come to the side of your knee works great) but also be sure to intervene and not let the other dogs get too close (bodies between dogs!) Work to change your dogs association with other dogs by sitting with them in a place where they can watch but not interact with other dogs and feed them tasty treats to feel more comfortable.
Some dogs, with the right playgroups and a lot of practice, can learn proper play techniques, others need to be managed to be sure they stay below threshold. Often the age, size, history, etc will affect whether or not this can be overcome.