Training a Reactive Dog to be a Calm Dog
in 8 weeks
Yes dog training does work for reactive dogs and you can get a calmer canine in 8 weeks.
First of all, we need to understand what EXACTLY your dog reacts to. When you say dogs is it really all dogs or is it large ones, black dogs, puppies, flat-faced breeds or golden retrievers? Being specific will help you.
Why do they react? Is it out of Frustration they can’t get to the dog in question to play, is it out of fear they want the dog to stay the hell away or is it anxiety they don’t know what that dog is going to do next or is it aggression they are determined to get to the dog and sort it out?
What does their reaction look like? Is it a lunge, is a lot of jumping about? Do they bark or growl – is that continuous or one and done? Do they try to get away or hide behind you?
The more specific you can be about your dog’s behaviour the easier you are going to find it to help them.
Just a reminder that while you don’t want your dog to react they aren’t doing it to be naughty they are doing it because of the emotion they feel towards the dog or trigger. This is a key point to remember – yes it’s embarrassing, and frustrating, the cause of why you can’t enjoy a walk in the park but it isn’t deliberate it’s emotional.
8 Weeks To Calm a Reactive Dog
First things first.
Stop walking your dog, I mean it no more walks for a few days or a week. Only take them out to toilet. This will help your dog to fully decompress and let go of any built-up stress they have – stress will cause them to react much quicker.
Then make sure you have your dog assessed for Pain – undiagnosed pain can be the reason some dogs are reactive or play a part in their reactive behaviour. Check a Dynamic Dog Assessment dog especially if your dog isn’t super relaxed at the Vets. Click Here to learn more.
Start at the Beginning.
While you are taking a break from walks, go back to training basics, teach your dog a marker word and use it correctly. A marker word lets your dog know that what they’ve done you like, so get telling them! The trick to this is that you don’t have to wait to tell your dog to do something to say the word, EVERY time your dog does something you like whether you asked them to do it or not say the marker word.
Next, make sure they know their name and respond to it by looking at you. The bit where nearly every owner goes wrong is they use their dog’s name to tell them off or to recall them or do something. When the truth is that saying your dog’s name is to get their attention only! So does your dog know their name?
When you begin to add walks back in, make sure you start off small and gradually increase the distance or time out. This gives you a better chance of having successful walks where your dog doesn’t react. The more of these you have the better your dog will view walks.
Get used to watching your dog when a trigger appears – I bet they don’t go straight into barking like a lunatic do they? If you watch close enough you will see them become aware of a trigger like a dog appearing, their ears will prick forward and their body will lean a little forward, they might get huffy, give a small growl and then bark. It’s these clues that happen before the barking that you need to watch for. These will allow you to predict when your dog will react. They may happen really quickly so get used to watching your dog.
Next Calm and Management
The trick to getting your dog not to react is teaching them calm associations with triggers. Keeping your distance at first and gradually reducing how close you get over time and the better your dog is able to handle seeing a dog without reacting.
This is the game changer and I have yet to meet a dog who doesn’t respond well to this method. What you are doing is rewarding them for seeing their trigger before they react and in turn building that calm association.
The other thing you need to have is management, there will always be times when seeing a trigger is going to be stressful for your dog. So being able to actively distract them is a good thing, but it does require practice or being able to change direction and ‘hide’ your dog from seeing their trigger is something you should practice.
Should your dog react, having the right system in place to manage the reaction and your dog will reduce the level of reactivity and improve how quickly they recover.
With all of this in place, you will have trained your reactive dog not to react!
Okay so I know I have made it sound simple, but honestly, the process isn’t complicated. You are teaching your dog to undo a well-formed habit and you’re also teaching yourself how to handle triggers, that’s a pretty big deal.
Reactive Dog Trainer
Online Training is Amazing.
Sometimes training your dog can be a long process and it can be hard to fit into a busy life. So being able to do a suitable online course will massively benefit you and your dog, as you get to go at your pace. You can master the things that suit you and your dog and skip past the stuff you don’t like.
I have created an 8 week online course, full of training and strategies to help you train your reactive dog. You go at your own pace and furthermore you get LIFETIME access so you can dip back in when you need a refresher.
There are over 100 videos – don’t worry they are around the 2min mark in length, each week there is a PDF to download with how-to guides for the training. Plus ebooks on loose lead walking and co-operative care. With the lifetime access, you will get access to updates and additions I include over time.
Its been designed to be easy to use and follow, from week 1 you will be helping your dog not to react with my foundations of training as I show you how to create calm associations, teach a marker work and so much more.
If you’d like to know more about my Reactive Dog to Calm Canine course Click Here.