Understanding your dog’s needs When your dog is on a leash, you may see a change in your dog’s body shape or hear vocalization when approached by an unfamiliar person. The changes in your dog’s body shape tells you how she is feeling. These changes may be dramatic and occur quickly, showing a large change …
Jade shows a relaxed, confident expression in this photo. This is Jade moments after she recovered from an emotional barky greeting with a scary dress! As Jade and I were sitting on this bench, I noticed Jade close her mouth, narrow her eyes somewhat, and track a women across the road. The young woman had …
The only way to control car aggression 100% is to never take your dog in the car. For many, that is unthinkable as we enjoy having our dogs with us. So if your dog reacts in the car, first, teach your dog to relax in your home and other environments including your car with no distractions. Again, this is hugely helpful for the dog with poor impulse control.
In my last blog, I mentioned that changing your dogs behavior begins with good management which prevents him from practicing the unwanted behavior.
I will now explain how to change your dog’s response when meeting a stranger, using the processes of counter-conditioning and desensitization. Counter-conditioning means changing the negative association the dog has formed about people, and replacing it with a positive, happy association using something the dog loves. Desensitization means exposing the dog to the “stimulus” (in this case, a person) at a distance, far enough away that it does not provoke a fear response from your dog, and gradually reducing the distance to the person until the dog is relaxed with the person nearby. Subsequent training can continue as your dog remains calm, and is able to accept treats or play with toys.
For shy or fearful dogs, having a human move into their space is very scary, and it takes away their personal choice. In the Treat and Retreat game, we reverse this situation. Instead of adding social pressure to the dogs, we remove that pressure. This adds to the dogs feeling of control while also giving the dog another opportunity to make a choice. Removal of social pressure should always be part of the Treat and Retreat game, as a way to check how the dog is doing and help keep them under threshold. If a dog goes over threshold, they learn that snapping works, period.
There are many ways to get behavior from an animal, for example you can hold your dog down when he jumps up on you, this may work for you, but the negative is that your dog may start barking more when guest arrive. Some dogs will become really wiggly and jumpy with strangers as a way of showing appeasement to the guest to ward off that scary punishment of being held down. This can also make your recall much more