Do you want to know how to train your dog to ignore other dogs? Some dogs don’t play well with others. Sometimes even the sight, sound, or smell of another dog can set your dog off if they’re particularly reactive. However what does it mean to have a reactive canine, and what are you able to do approximately it?
The answer to this problem lies in counterconditioning! Counterconditioning is a education method wherein you praise the alternative of an unwanted behaviour to eliminate it. For example, if your dog is barking, you praise your dog when quiet. With repetition, interest to element, and top timing, you may break the cycles of reactivity and learn all approximately your canine through applying those primary dog schooling commands.
Is My Dog Reactive?
A simple walk with your dog can turn into a wrestling match if your dog is reactive towards other dogs. As an example, while you’re passing every other canine on the road, your canine can come to be agitated, barking and lunging closer to the other canine till the cows come domestic. This can make walks stressful (for you and your dog), unpleasant, and challenging.
But it doesn’t stop there. Dog reactivity can spring up in your home as well. As an instance, dogs can bark, run, and lunge thru your outside if different dogs bypass by your fence; they might do the same at your dwelling room window! In these instances, it’s essential to know which techniques to use to figure out how to curb reactivity with basic obedience training.
Steps to Counterconditioning Reactivity
So what are the most critical steps to counterconditioning your reactive dog? I’ve outlined them below:
- Stopping and heading off reactive stimuli. Inside the early degrees, preventing or warding off conditions a good way to reason a reactive response to your dog is critical.
- Focus training.These simple training exercises will keep your dog’s attention focused on you and away from distractions.
- Leash training.It’s essential for your dog to feel relaxed and reassured when leash walking so they don’t panic when encountering another dog.
- Slow introduction of reactive stimuli.Once you’ve got the fundamental focus and leash exercises down, slowly introduce the distraction back into your training time.
- Moving past distractions.When you and your dog are confident in your training, you can begin to avoid reactive situations while out on walks.
The relaxation of this newsletter will detail each of these points, presenting examples, instructions, and resources to manual you via the method of gaining knowledge of a way to obedience teach your canine by applying basic dog training techniques.
Preventing and Avoiding Reactive Stimuli
At the beginning of your counterconditioning, the best thing you can do for your dog is prevent them from encountering any reactive stimuli or situations. By avoiding exposure to other dogs, your dog can be more focused and calm during the training basics.
You could do a few matters in this initial level of mastering the way to quality educate a dog to keep your dog calm. Here are a few tips for leash walking and bark training at home:
Use Window Coverings
If your dog is the type who hangs out by the window and barks at passing dogs, a window covering will suit you just fine. Of course, you can bring in your blinds or curtains to cover the windows, but not everyone wants to keep their windows shut all the time. And I don’t blame you!
Another viable option is a window film. These are large, semi-opaque stickers you can place over your windows that obscure the view, preventing your dog from getting a visual on passersby. Since they only need to cover your dog’s eye level, you can often get away with covering only a tiny portion of the window.
Use Alternate Routes
You probably have a particular route you use to walk your dog. Then again, so does everyone else in your neighbourhood, and these routes likely coincide! Walking in popular spots will expose your dog to more triggers for reactivity, and preventing those triggers is paramount when learning how to be a dog trainer!
Figuring out an change direction to your walk can prevent and your canine a headache. Additionally, you can experiment with walking your dog at different times of day – most owners are likely walking their dogs just before or right after work. Attempt early morning or past due-evening walks to reduce leash reactivity and keep your dog within the proper attitude!
As you may have learned in puppy training, treats always put dogs in a good mood, so why not use them more often? Treat rewards can and should be administered quickly and efficiently when your dog exhibits the behaviours you want to teach! Honestly, positive reinforcement with treats is one of the best dog training tips I can give! So how can you utilize treat rewards effectively?
A trained dog will stay calm in the face of a bark-worthy distraction. If your dog is a serial barker at home, quickly hand them a treat during the quiet breath between barking for a bit of dog education. Be careful to avoid accidentally treating the dog while they are barking. In those instances, a clicker or automatic deal with device is available in handy! The treat gadget is specifically useful in case you want your dog to visit a selected spot, like far from the window or door.
If you don’t have a treat dispenser (the Treat & Train is an excellent option), keeping treats stashed around the house is a great idea. You want to reward your dog whenever they exhibit the appropriate behaviour, and the treat reward will only be effective if you can promptly administer it.
As hard as you might try, it’s impossible to entirely avoid reactive stimuli if you’re taking your dog on a walk. If you happen to come across another dog on a walk, move as far away as you can (for example, to the other side of the street or into a field) and give your dog a few treats. This will keep them focused on you and not the other dog!
You may be wondering if treating your dog during a situation like this would encourage a fearful response. It’s quite the opposite! Giving your dog treats creates a new positive association to that experience, which is precisely what you want when learning how to get a trained dog!
Focus training is an essential skill you may have learned during obedience training. One of the prime examples of focus training is targeting, which I’ll discuss in detail here. Another excellent focus exercise is the reverse sit, which can be great for breaking away from a reactive situation and changing direction.
Targeting teaches your dog to touch a part of their body, most commonly their nose, to a specific object or point. Dogs are often trained to target their nose to the trainer’s hand, but you can use different tools in target training. For example, getting your dog to follow a wand or target ball on a stick can be an excellent method for pet training. Let’s start with the basics!
- Hold your hand, palm open and fingers pointing downward, in front of your dog’s face. Be careful to go away some space and now not push your hand into their nose.
- When your dog sniffs, licks, or touches your hand, click (or use your verbal cue) and treat!
- Repeat the above steps several times until your dog becomes used to this position and target.
- Move your hand into different positions and move further away from your dog’s face as you continue to practice.
- When your dog is reliably performing the targeting action, you can add your command word: say “touch” just before your dog touches your hand, then click and treat.
Easy enough! This fun trick gets your dog focused and can be used to direct them in many situations: through doorways, into our out of the car, into their crate, or even to greet visitors!
Targeting With Distractions
Once your dog has become comfortable targeting in a controlled environment (such as inside your home), you can add distractions. However, it’s essential to introduce reactive stimuli in a slow and controlled way to give your dog the best chance for success.
If your dog becomes overwhelmed or begins to show reactive behaviour, take a step back and reduce the level of distraction to where your dog was previously performing well. Then, stay at that level a bit longer before moving on to more open environments. But where to train your dog next?
First, bring your dog into your yard and practice targeting. Your yard is full of smells and sounds that may distract your dog, but it isn’t too overwhelming. That could be a vast first step while shifting intention training out of the house and perfecting your obedience education strategies.
When your dog is comfortable targeting in the yard and can do so reliably, bring them out into the street and practice targeting on walks! Your dog may still become distracted by other dogs, but don’t give up – this is just one piece of the puzzle, and figuring out all aspects of how to train your dog yourself takes considerable time and effort.
Sit is a command virtually every dog knows, and I’m sure yours does too! So, considering we’re considering the way to educate your pet, how are you going to utilize this simple motion to hold your canine targeted? It’s easy – repeat sits moving away from distractions. This training exercise keeps your dog’s attention on you while also serving to move both of you away from another dog.
How Do I Use the Repeat Sit?
If you may already make your dog take a seat, then you’re most of the manner there! Here’s how to train your dog at home by using the repeat sit:
- Maneuver your dog to face you; be sure your dog is facing away from the distraction.
- Give your dog the sit Click and treat!
- Take 3-5 steps backwards at a brisk pace – this will get your dog excited and encourage them to follow you since your body language indicates something fun is happening!
- Stop and give the sitcommand again. Click and treat.
- Repeat these steps until you’ve moved a significant distance away from the distraction. From here, you can turn around and take a different route or move to another side of the street away from the distracting dog. There’s more on this step here! Following these exercises is a significant step forward in how to train your dog.
When dogs are reactive, having them on a leash can increase their fear response because they feel restricted and unable to escape a bad situation. Therefore, proper leash training is essential for making your dog comfortable and secure on walks. So do you want to know ways to train your dog on a leash? Let’s start with the basics: equipment!
Using Appropriate Leads
The type of leash and collar you use can significantly impact dog training, focus, and reactivity. We’ll examine some of those here –all of these are fantastic pieces of equipment that can help you learn how to train your dog easily.
This type of leash would be my (and many dog trainers’) top recommendation for training while on a leash. A hands-free leash allows you to use both hands to click and treat your dog, which we already know is an essential step in how to train your pet. This leash also allows you to hold any targeting objects you may need. Most of these leashes also come with handy treat pouches to store all those yummy goodies!
A harness is an first-rate opportunity to all forms of collars. In contrast to collars, a harness doesn’t harm or squeeze your dog’s neck after they pull. This will be in particular beneficial to short-nosed puppies or small dogs liable to collapsing trachea because a harness doesn’t positioned strain on their airway. Even so, you have to choose the proper harness for how to retrain a dog!
If you have a reactive dog, they likely do a lot of pulling while on a leash when they see other dogs. If that’s the case, avoid a harness with a leash attachment at the back. These can encourage your dog to pull more because when you tug on the leash to gain control, you are directing your dog’s attention away from you.
Look for a harness with a leash attachment in the front to combat this. These harnesses provide greater directional control and help to prevent excessive pulling. Good control of your dog’s movement is a huge plus when learning individual dog training.
A head halter can be a great option to keep your dog’s attention on you. Since the leash attachment for a head halter is right under the dog’s muzzle, you can easily direct your dog’s attention towards you and away from other dogs, as their gaze will follow the direction their head is pointing.
One drawback of the head halter is that it may require some training for your dog to get used to it. Some dogs take to it fine, but others are annoyed by it! Dr. Sophia Yin provides steps for training your dog to accept head halters here. Once you’ve got it, though, a head halter can be a great addition in your journey towards how to make your dog obedient.
Loose Leash Walking
One step to combatting reactivity is to prevent pulling on walks! While you’re working through basic canine education, you can additionally teach your canine to walk well with some tremendously easy exercises. Those take time and make your walks longer, but don’t surrender!
- Allow your dog blow off a few steam thru jogging or gambling earlier than you strive loose leash taking walks sports activities. If your dog is too excited by the prospect of going on a walk, it will be difficult for them to focus, and we know their focus is key to training with your dog.Alternatively, you can begin loose-leash training in your yard or inside the home if outside distractions are too overwhelming for your dog.
- Reward your dog (click and treat) when walking on a loose leash. As you’ve in all likelihood diagnosed, this is the equal schooling mechanism as counterconditioning barking at domestic! Once you get the basics, there are many similarities between dog training approaches.
- If your dog pulls, prevent strolling and take a few steps lower back. This redirects your dog’s attention towards you. Then, begin to walk again and reward your dog for walking on a loose leash. This exercise teaches your dog that there’s nowhere to go at the end of a tight leash!
A ton more goes into counterconditioning reactivity towards other dogs than I could ever hope to present here. Still, I hope this information got you started down the right path in learning ways to train your dog! For extra sources, check out the links in this text and Dr. Sophia Yin’s blogs about dog reactivity.
In case you comply with these steps, you’ll be a canine expert in no time! Good luck with your training!