Ep. 03: Preventing Reactivity and Aggression

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Canine Conversations discusses the four steps that they take every day with their dogs to prevent reactivity. Many trainers consider reactivity (dogs that bark and lunge) to be a contagious problem.

Marissa Martino and Kayla Fratt break down how they help keep their dogs relaxed around other dogs.

#1: We Avoid On-Leash Greetings With Other Dogs

  • Being on leash reduces a dog’s options.
  • Even socially savvy dogs can struggle to communicate when they’re constrained with a leash.
  • Humans tend to tense up on the leash, adding extra social pressure accidentally.
  • You never know who the other dog is and how he’ll react!
  • Exposure isn’t the same as socialization.

#2: Keep It Cool When Other Dogs Lose Their Cool

  • Yelling at other dogs (and other owners) is likely to stress your own dog out.
  • Your dog is likely to follow your lead, so losing your cool may lead to your dog losing her cool.

#3: Reward Your Dog For Noticing Other Dogs, Pretty Much Always. Especially if the Other Dog is Being Rude.

  • Pop a treat in your dog’s mouth whenever you see another dog. Soon, you’ll notice your dog looks up at you when she sees another dog, waiting for a treat.
  • If you don’t have treats, praise, pet, or play with your dog to reward her for staying calm around barky dogs.
  • Kayla has taught her dog Barley to grab a stick and play with her when other dogs are being rude, helping both of them dispel stress and diffuse the situation.

#4: Block Your Dog’s View of the Street and Put On White Noise when She’s Home Alone

  • If your dog keeps “practicing” barking while you’re gone, she’ll keep doing it.
  • Barking at people “works” because the people walk by. You’ve got to combat the environment, which is teaching your dog to bark!
  • Even if your dog spends much of her day looking out the window, that may be more due to hypervigilance than because she truly enjoys it.

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