August 20, 2011

Fear-Reactive Dogs

It seems that reactive dogs are becoming more common. Below are some photos with step-by-step instructions to help your reactive dog.

Start by walking parallel at a safe & comfortable distance. Figure out what your dog's threshold is before you begin. 6 ft, 16 ft, 60 feet. This is the distance you can be from the stimuli without the dog reacting. I encourage you to use a clicker and really great treats during this exercise. When ever the dog looks at the other dog, but does not react, simply click the clicker & offer him a treat. The conditioned response is when the dog looks to you for the treat. Over time, your dog will automatically look to you when he sees another dog approaching. Dog approaching means good stuff!!! You will also want to click and treat for any automatic check-ins (dog offers you eye contact or looks to you for permission).

Then do some head-on approaches starting again at a safe distance and then creating a large circle to do a c-curve around the oncoming dog. Ex: You can get within 20 ft of an oncoming dog without your dog reacting, so at 20 feet you then turn to the left slightly and your helper turns to the right slightly and you walk around one another in a big circle. In a situation where one dog is bomb-proof with other dogs, you would then bring the fear-reative dog to greet the bomb-proof helper dog from behind. Allow the fearful dog to sniff the other dogs rear end first. This is how dogs shake hands and is very non-threatening.Finally, allow the dogs to greet one another in a normal canine greeting. You will want to keep leashes loose and remain as calm as you can. The dogs will sense your tension and fear through the leash so you must be relaxed. I like to use Valor and Peace & Calming essential oils when working with dogs who are reactive. You may also apply the oils directly to the dogs. Please note: this may not happen on the first introduction to a new dog or person. Take your time & work SLOWLY to increase the chance of success.

Friends at last!

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I train dogs using positive reinforcement training to modify unwanted behaviors.  I step outside the traditional training box and use therapeutic-grade essential oils to assist in my behavior modification regime when it comes to dogs plagued with fear and anxiety as well as aggression.  My philosophy is to heal the dog's mind, body and spirit, not just to rid the dog of unacceptable behaviors.  I specialize in shelter dog rehab, reactive rover, and fearful fidos.