We get a LOT of questions about working with leash reactive dogs. So we were thrilled to have Sarah Bond, CDBC, CPDT-KA of Bond Dog Training do a webinar with us last night!
Remember that your dog isn't trying to be "mean" or give you a hard time- they're struggling to navigate a situation where they're uncomfortable around a certain thing (dogs, people, bicycles, etc).
Working with a reactive dog? Here are some basic tips.
Manage your environment! Limit opportunities for your dog to see their trigger and react, so they don't keep "practicing" that response.
Teach some alternatives! Learn a "U-turn" cue or a watch me cue to help get your dog focusing back with you.
Make the trigger = good stuff! When other dogs appear, your dog gets AWESOME treats. When the dogs disappear, so do those treats. We want your dog to learn that the trigger predicts awesome stuff, not scary stuff. No reason to react to things we love!
Watch your dog's threshold! If your dog won't take treats or pay any attention to you, they are "over threshold." This usually means we need to be further away, where the trigger is less intense. So work on reactivity when you're far enough to have your dog notice the trigger, but not react.
Don't forget to use high value, spectacular treats! This is the time to use the super stinky stuff like turkey, fish, or cheese instead of kibble or regular dog treats. (For vegan options, some people suggested trying peas, green beans, or sweet potato).
Don't forget- working with reactive dogs can lead to lots of emotions from the human end. It's normal to get frustrated, anxious, or feel isolated. You are NOT ALONE! If you have a reactive dog, reach out! We can give you help and moral support :)
Need help with your reactive dog? Set up a private training session!
For more awesome resources about our reactive dogs, try these:
CARE for Reactive Dogs - Counter Conditioning and Desensitization
Reactive Dogs - Facebook group
Desensitization to Noises- Smart Bitch Modern Dog Training
Confidence Building- Smart Bitch Modern Dog Training
Emergency U-Turn- Joyful Dog
The Engage-Disengage Game- Karen Pryor Academy
Understanding Thresholds- Suzanne Clothier
Threshold Diagram- Suzanne Clothier
Stress Scale- Grisha Stewart