Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ripley: Reactive dog training

A dog that barks, lunges, or has a negative reaction to other dogs, people, or objects is what we would call a reactive dog.  

The distance from a dog to the other dog, human, or object that they react to is what we call the threshold.  For this training, we are working on decreasing the distance of that threshold.  Basically, any time your dog reacts in a negative way or way you do not like, you are going to mark that behavior with a No Reward Marker...saying "Uh-oh" or "eh-eh," and move the dog away from what they are reacting to.  Once the dog calms down a bit, move back towards whatever has made them react.  Again, once the dog barks or lunges, mark the unwanted behavior and move the dog away.  Continue this exercise until you are able to get close to the other dog, person, or object without the dog reacting in a negative way.  Take your time doing this exercise and remember to stay calm and have lots of patience with your dog.  This training will take time, but does work.

Ripley is very reactive to things, meaning she has a reaction that we would consider negative or unwanted.  Reactive dogs do things like growl, lunge and bark.  Dogs can be reactive to people, other dogs, or even objects.  Ripley is reactive to most things, but especially to dogs. 

As you will see in the video, to help train a reactive dog to change their behavior and react in a positive calm way, there are a few things you must do.  First, mark any unwanted or negative behavior with an "Uh-uh" or "uh-oh."  Then immediately move away from the thing that has made the dog react.  Move far enough away until the dog calms down, then move back towards the thing that made them react.  If they react again, mark it with your "uh-oh" and move away.  Do this until you can get closer to the thing without the dog reacting.  Praise the dog whenever they don't react or react in a positive way.

If your dog can get to the point where they do not react near the dog, try walking side by side (but still keep plenty of distance between you.

The use of a head collar is recommended for this type of training.  This type of dog tool will assist in reactive dog training and offer better control to the handler.

Related blog articles:
Reactive Dogs Training Tips
Reactive Dog Training
Head Collars

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