There are a couple of mistakes that dog owners frequently make which are simple to fix and have the potential to dramatically improve a dog’s behavior. These mistakes are a common cause of dog reactivity, but they’re also a part of the reason for all sorts of other doggy problems, as well as lots of problems that have nothing to do with dog training!
The first mistake is taking the good for granted. We talk about this a LOT because this is one of the greatest and most universal human flaws. It’s so easy to notice what we don’t like, what is upsetting, what is frustrating, what we want to change, and it’s so easy to ignore and forget about all the things that are good, that we do like and should make us happy.
For many of us, this is true in all aspects of our lives, and it’s often very true in dog training. A lot of us will ignore our dogs when they are being good and then they only pay attention to them when the dog is acting out and out-of-control. All dogs are good most of the time! When your dog is not misbehaving, that means they are being good!
When it comes to dog-dog reactivity, many dog owners completely ignore all of the good, mellow interactions their dog has with other dogs, and only give their dogs attention when the dog is fearful or reactive towards other dogs. Never take a good butt-sniff for granted!
If your dog says “Hi” to another dog and the greeting goes well, take note and PRAISE your dog. Tell them you are proud of them for being such a polite, well-mannered dog! Give them some love!
If your dog is sitting or standing calmly by your side in the presence of other dogs, take note of that and PRAISE them! Tell them you’re proud of them for being calm and staying next to you.
Here’s a video from my Reliability & Games Workshop where I calk a little bit more about this concept:
Praising your dog for being good is easy, it’s fun, and will make you and your dog feel better about life. If your with a dog now, give it a try!
The second mistake a lot of dog owners make is they don’t give their dog enough time to adjust to a new environment. Dogs (and humans) often need time to get used to new places and stimuli, especially if they’re unfamiliar. If you don’t give your dog time to settle in, they’re going to be on-edge and they’ll have much more trouble relaxing or paying attention to you. An easy way to tell if your dog has fully acclimated to a new environment is to simply stop and wait. If your dog is looking around intently, they’re still taking it all in.
When your dog looks up at you, that’s a good sign that they’re good to go. They’ve taken in the environment and they’re ready to move on or do some training. Some dogs take a long time to get comfortable, others are much quicker. Learn how much time your dog needs and try to give it to them whenever you can.
Here’s another clip from our Reliability & Games Workshop to show you what I mean:
It’s easy to give your dog (and yourself) time to adjust to new environments. Just don’t move so quickly, especially through new environments. Stop and give your dog time to look and sniff around. Wait until they show you they are ready before you move on. While you’re at it, take some time to look around yourself. I there are any roses around, this would be a great time to smell them!
Both of these clips are taken from my Reliability & Games Workshop.
For a limited time, you can purchase lifetime access to this workshop recording for just $50. That’s 75% off the regular price of $200.
You’ll find all sorts of tips and tricks for getting and keeping your dog’s attention in the presence of other dogs, and you’ll learn how to use games to improve your dog’s reliability, so you can take your dog anywhere and retain the control you need to keep them safe and well-behaved.
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