Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reactive dogs

Dealing with Hayden, my reactive dachshund, has giving me a lot of perspective when it comes to reactive dogs. I deal with reactive dogs all the time, but having one who is so hard to deal with has taught me quite a bit. So what do you do to deal with a dog who barks at other dogs/people/anything that moves? First and foremost, your reaction, and body language for that matter, are crucial. When I see something that my dog is likely to react to I immediate turn on the verbal praise (before the reaction occurs!), and then reward for any attention that comes back to me. A "bark!" equals, walk away, so that we can be at a safe distance to work through it. But, if I start verbally praising my dog before a reaction begins, and then I reward the dog for keeping quiet, I have essentially "won the battle", that is the battle between me and the distraction! Every dog has a different limit as to where they feel safe, but if I reward them for NOT reacting, then I am changing the association with the scary thing! My goal is to have my dog look to ME when a distraction is present. I should be the center of my dog's universe, and essentially what this means to my dog is that I will keep him/her safe. If this trust is broken (if I let another dog or person approach my dog without permission), then I am teaching my sensitive dog that they cannot trust me, and must take matters into their own paws...
My main thought process when training dogs is "what is the dog interpreting from this situation?". If my dog deems the situation as frightening, then it is much harder to come back from.
I constantly stress that whether WE see certain circumstances as frightening or not, our dog may interpret these events differently.

No comments:

Post a Comment