Archive for reactive dogs

Teaching Self Control

Posted in dog training, howto, pets with tags , , , on August 10, 2015 by rattlerjen

Your dog barks, lunges, and is driving you mad

What do you do?

Here is a simple, yet powerful method to help your dog learn what to do instead of being a wild one.

dog self control

Mo waits calmly for her bone

Its your job to teach your dog that they have options

Your dog really has no idea that sitting quietly and calming down is a much better decision than jumping around and acting crazy. Once the adrenaline kicks in, the thinking brain (the frontal cortex) shuts off. Biologists call this an amygdala hijack. Simply, your dog cannot think straight or learn new things! Like a well trained fighter pilot, we can teach your dog to make good decisions under excitement and stress. It’s up to us to teach them what that is.

Teach not Force

Our goal is to teach our dogs the correct thing to do so that they can do it on their own. If we force them to sit or lay down, we are only battling with our dogs. This typically ends up with two very angry, exhausted, and frustrated living beings. Nobody learns anything (except maybe you are really scary sometimes!)

Work from Easy to Difficult

Always set your dog up for success.  Start in a place with low distractions. Make sure that triggers that set your dog off are far away and you are not in a place where any can sneak up on you. Never train in a situation where your dog is so out of control that he cannot calm down and listen to you.  Work up to more difficult scenarios in tiny steps.  The slower you progress the faster your dog’s progress will be over all.

Quiet and Slow

Speak quietly and move slowly.  Your dog follows your lead far more than you think. If you are too worked up yourself to calm down, fake it until you make it!

Steps

  1. start with your dog on a short but loose leash
  2. back away calmly away from the distraction so your dog’s back is to it and is facing you.
  3. calmly say sit
  4. If the dog sits quietly praise your dog
  5. wait for your dog to completely relax (this may take several minutes!)
  • slowed breathing
  • hackles down
  • tail relaxed
  • ears relaxed
  • eyes not dialated
  • able to focus on you instead of paying attention to everything else
  • relaxed body

6. Go about what you are doing

7. Repeat anytime your dog gets excited again

If your dog does not sit

  1. repeat the word sit quietly (of course we never do this when teaching the sit cue.)
  2. wait patiently for a second
  3. If the dog has not sat yet – give the hand signal for sit
  4. if dog still has not sat – slowly walk backwards a few steps and ask quietly for a sit again.
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