Category: Training

Managing Holiday Stress With Pets

Managing Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a joyous… and stressful time of year. With multiple to-do lists, guests, parties and emptied wallets the last thing we can think of is how to prepare when it comes to our pets.

Depending on the age of your dog, and their energy level, here are some tips to keep the holidays running smoothly:

KEEP YOUR DOG BUSY

Planning ahead of time can take tremendous stress off your plate. Keeping your dog busy is always your best bet when having guests over or if they are constantly chewing at presents under the tree. A few ideas would be:

  • Keep some Kongs stuffed and ready to go in the fridge. Great recipe ideas via the Kong website.
  • Yak Milk chews are full of flavour and long lasting, we like local company Churpi Durka
  • Antlers, naturally shed. These are for hard-core chewers so not suitable for puppies.

DOG PROOF DECORATIONS

Constantly getting after your dog for pawing at decorations or lifting their leg on the Christmas tree can be tiring. After all, our dogs are animals and often don’t know any better.

  • Gate off the Christmas Tree, take a look at the images to your right for ideas
  • Place decorations out of reach
  • Avoid giving your dog attention if he does get into something, remove the item and redirect your dog to something to keep him busy

EXERCISE & ROUTINE

It’s really important to continue with your regular routine when on holidays otherwise your dog may become restless (and destructive!). A bored dog is one that will seek things to chew and become rambunctious if they haven’t had their regular dose of exercise. Time a long walk to precede guests coming over!  Remember, your dog has needs and if you don’t fulfill them it will only cause havoc in the household.

Prevention and preparation are key!


When Control Becomes a Dirty Word

WHEN CONTROL BECOMES A DIRTY WORD

As a dog and human coach (aka trainer and behaviour consultant) clients often ask, ‘how do I control my dog’s jumping up?’ ‘how do I get my dog under control?’  I understand what my clients are asking for, it is not unreasonable to want to change undesirable behaviour in our companion animals. We also want to ensure that our dogs can live in our communities safely and somewhat harmoniously.

Control is defined as the following:
to maintain influence or authority over.
“you shouldn’t have dogs if you can’t control them”

When I think about animals, wild or domesticated, I understand that so many things influence behaviour ranging from genetics, to experiences and environment.  I realize that antecedents (what happens before the behaviour occurs) and what happens after (consequences) either maintain or strengthen behaviour. I understand how to modify behaviour, absolutely.  But when the average person wants to “control” a behaviour it often means STOP a behaviour or FIX. This is a double-edged sword.

People who lack control in their own lives often find it empowering to control others, including the dogs that they live with. It can be reinforcing to do so for many.  This is why what I call “robot dogs”, the ones who are trained with e-collars/shock and prong, pain and punishment, fear and intimidation are often times done so for life; their owners are reinforced with the results of the behaviour they wanted to stop… stopping immediately.  This is gratifying. When something you want to change is done so quickly and immediately you will continue along that path because it works. At the expense of the dog.

The double-edged sword of that type of control is the psychological side-effects (and many times physical) on the organism on the receiving end.  Lack of control in ones’ life quickly leads to depression, apathy, learned helplessness.

“The power to control ones’ own outcomes is essential to behavioral health, and the degree to which a behaviour reduction procedure preserves learner control is essential to developing a standard of humane, effective practice.”
~ Dr. Susan Friedman

Choice.
Giving your dog more choices does not mean that they will go nuts and start raiding your fridge and steal the keys to your car… all hell will not break loose, I promise.

If we teach our dogs what we would like them to do and reinforce that with something motivating for them to continue vs punishing for what we don’t and giving them NO direction, the result is an animal that is empowered. This also results in a behaviourally sound dog/cat/rabbit/bird that trusts their teacher and partner, you!  The reduction in negative behaviours and an increase in motivation to learn and respond to you is the amazing side effect.  Replace control with choice.  How do we guide our dogs to make better choices? Because that is what feeds and fosters lasting behaviour change.

Partnerships vs power struggles.


Top 10 Behaviour Myths via Jean Donaldson

The dog training industry is rife with opinions and theories, very few of them are actually truth. Scientific evidence is something we should strive for when working with animals; outlandish fiction muddies the water for everyone.

1) Dogs are naturally pack animals with a clear social order.

This one busts coming out of the gate as free-ranging dogs (pariahs, semi-feral populations, dingoes, etc.) don’t form packs. As someone who spent years solemnly repeating that dogs were pack animals, it was sobering to find out that dogs form loose, amorphous, transitory associations with other dogs.

2) If you let dogs exit doorways ahead of you, you’re letting them be dominant.

There is not only no evidence for this, there is no evidence that the behaviour of going through a doorway has any social significance whatsoever. In order to lend this idea any plausibility, it would need to be ruled out that rapid doorway exit is not simply a function of their motivation to get to whatever is on the other side combined with their higher ambulation speed.

3) In multi-dog households, “support the hierarchy” by giving presumed dominant animals patting, treats, etc., first, before giving the same attention to presumed subordinate animals.

There is no evidence that this has any impact on inter-dog relations, or any type of aggression. In fact, if one dog were roughing up another, the laws governing Pavlovian conditioning would dictate an opposite tack: Teach aggressive dogs that other dogs receiving scarce resources predicts that they are about to receive some. If so practised, the tough dog develops a happy emotional response to other dogs getting stuff – a helpful piece of training, indeed. No valuable conditioning effects are achieved by giving the presumed higher-ranking dog goodies first.

4) Dogs have an innate desire to please. This concept has never been operationally defined, let alone tested.

A vast preponderance of evidence, however, suggests that dogs, like all properly functioning animals, are motivated by food, water, sex, and like many animals, by play and access to bonded relationships, especially after an absence. They’re also, like all animals, motivated by fear and pain, and these are the inevitable tools of those who eschew the use of food, play, etc., however much they cloak their coercion and collar-tightening in desire to please rhetoric.

5) Rewards are bribes and thus compromise relationships.

Related to 4), the idea that behaviour should just, in the words of Susan Friedman, Ph.D., “flow like a fountain” without need of consequences, is opposed by more than 60 years of unequivocal evidence that behaviour is, again to quote Friedman, “a tool to produce consequences.” Another problem is that bribes are given before behaviour, and rewards are given after. And, a mountain of evidence from decades of research in pure and applied settings has demonstrated over and over that positive reinforcement – i.e., rewards – make relationships better, never worse.

6) If you pat your dog when he’s afraid, you’re rewarding the fear.

Fear is an emotional state – a reaction to the presence or anticipation of something highly aversive. It is not an attempt at manipulation. If terrorists enter a bank and order everybody down on the floor, the people will exhibit fearful behaviour. If I then give a bank customer on the floor a compliment, 20 bucks or chocolates, is this going to make them more afraid of terrorists next time? It’s stunningly narcissistic to imagine that a dog’s fearful behaviour is somehow directed at us (along with his enthusiastic door-dashing).

7) Punish dogs for growling or else they’ll become aggressive.

Ian Dunbar calls this “removing the ticker from the time bomb.” Dogs growl because something upsetting them is too close. If you punish them for informing us of this, they are still upset but now not letting us know, thus allowing scary things to get closer and possibly end up bitten. Much better to make the dog comfortable around what he’s growling at so he’s not motivated to make it go away.

8) Playing tug makes dogs aggressive.

There is no evidence that this is so. The only study ever done, by Borchelt and Goodloe, found no correlation between playing tug and the incidence of aggression directed at either family members or strangers. Tug is, in fact, a cooperative behaviour directed at simulated prey: the toy.

9) If you give dogs chew toys, they’ll learn to chew everything.

This is a Pandora’s box type of argument that, once again, has zero evidence to support it. Dogs are excellent discriminators and readily learn with minimal training to distinguish their toys from forbidden items. The argument is also logically flawed as chewing is a ‘hydraulic’ behaviour that waxes and wanes, depending on satiation/deprivation, as does drinking, eating and sex. Dogs without chew objects are like zoo animals in barren cages. Unless there is good compensation with other enrichment activities, there is a welfare issue here.

10) You can’t modify “genetic” behaviour.

All behaviour – and I mean all – is a product of a complex interplay between genes and the environment. And while some behaviours require less learning than others, or no learning at all, their modifiability varies as much as does the modifiability of behaviours that are primarily learned.


Integrating a New Dog Into Your “Pack”

These guidelines should help during that crucial initial stage of integration. Most people rush into introducing the dogs and expect them to “work it out”. Often times this is a stressful scenario and you can start things off on the wrong foot without intending to.  If you follow these guidelines and take your time you can set the dogs up to succeed.

Meet Off Site First
(you will need two handlers, one for each dog)

Always introduce dogs in a neutral place and use lots of positive reinforcement such as treats so that there is a default good association. Introduce both dogs on leash and try to keep the leashes loose for their first few sniffs. Count to three while they first sniff and then move them away with a happy tone of voice and use some treats to reward. You’ll want to repeat a few brief sniffs and then get them moving on a parallel walk.

If there is snarking upon first sniff don’t throw in the towel! Take both dogs on a parallel walk and use lots of rewards. Then go home in separate cars.  When you arrive home you should have your baby gates set up to keep the dogs separate for a period of time until you’ve made lots of good associations and there have not been any set backs.

Gates

I thought we were done with baby gates once we house trained our dog? Nope! These gates are often crucial for multi-dog households. You’ll want to have separate areas for the dogs at least for the first few weeks while you integrate the new dog into your home. This can prevent squabbles, resource guarding and in general stress and anxiety.  Don’t skip this part even if your resident dog is “good”.

Decompression Time

One of the biggest mistakes I see when someone brings a new dog home is that they immerse the dog in their life very quickly. They take them to the pet store, the dog park, over to friends houses and to work… often within the first few days. This can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for a dog. The most stressful time for a newly adopted dog is the first few weeks. They have no point of reference for this new life of theirs so let them settle into your home first and spend the first few weeks slowly introducing them to the different facets of your life. It’s understandable that it’s exciting to welcome your new family member home and you’d like to bring them everywhere, however, you won’t be setting them up for success. Keep their world small for the first few weeks and acclimate them to the new home environment first

Food and Toys

Resource guarding amongst other dogs is a normal behaviour and one that can spike during stressful scenarios or introducing new dogs into your household. Feed dogs separately and keep toys and beds separate. In the home these should be in different areas with the baby gates being used. Dogs often times don’t want to share these items and that’s ok! Don’t assume they will want to share and use preventative measures to avoid problesm.

Walks and Play

Take both dogs on plenty of on leash walks together if the first few days have gone well. Experiment with some off leash time in the yard with supervision and if they end up playing great! Keep play sessions short and sweet and end on a good note. Again, watch toys as they may squabble over those or sticks/balls. Prevention will be key again for the first few weeks and up to a month. It can take 3-6 months in many cases to see some reliable behaviour between the dogs in this new dynamic.


The Opportunity You May Be Missing

Carving out time in our busy schedules to work on training with our canine comradess can be tough. If we want to see results it takes consistency, dedication and time. It’s a challenge when many of us are balancing, family, work and outside interests. Training is an on-going effort we must invest in our dogs in order to keep them motivated and to stay on track. Our dogs are family members and their behaviour can dramatically impact our — and their — quality of life. After all, they add great value to our lives. So how do we fit it in and not compromise the quality of training?

Every walk can be a training session.

Our dogs need daily exercise and chances are you are taking them for at least a 20 minute walk. Here is your opportunity to take advantage of that one on one time and make some focused changes. Not only is it physical exercise for your dog (and you) it is mental exercise. Mental exercise is actually more tiring than physical exercise. We need to engage our dogs with training and mental stimulation sessions daily.

Set an intention.

Before you lace up your shoes and leash up, decide what you’d like to work on. It could be that you are working on pulling so you’d like to reinforce loose leash walking. Perhaps your dog is often distracted and your intention is to engage with them throughout the walk and reinforce when they do. Maybe your dog has reactivity issues and you are keeping your dog at a distance while reinforcing with yummy treats when they notice other dogs and keep their cool. It could be as simple as asking or waiting for a sit before crossing the street or interacting with people on the street. The scenarios are endless. Take it outside and take advantage of your walks.

Keep them close.

Far too many times I have witnessed someone walking their dog on a flexi-leash while they are talking on the phone and not realizing their dog is approaching another dog that may or may not want to interact. We need to be conscious of this and respect other dogs’ space. I like to use a waist leash because I can adjust it to keep my dog close and I can keep my hands free so I can reinforce the behaviour I like with treats.  I call this “connected walking”. I want my dog to be checking in with me with eye contact regularly so that the many outside distractions won’t have me yanked or pulled towards things.

Strengthen your bond.

Many times we slip into feeling like taking the dog for a walk is a chore. We multi-task phone calls and texting with scooping poop. Sometimes a quick walk does have the purpose of just a bathroom break, which is fine, but we have to keep in mind that committing time for training ensures our furry family members are healthy and happy.  Take the time for a focused walking/training session and you will see results in terms of behaviour as well as the bond you share. You will find that your dog is connecting with you more during and after walks; throughout the whole day!

Make it fun!

Benches, concrete walls and stairs are all great opportunities to teach your dog to jump onto things, off of things and around objects. This is all stimulating for their noggins! Hand targeting or luring with treats can encourage them to explore different objects they may not naturally jump on. Get creative and you will see how much they enjoy these new training sessions with you.

So, you can see that while you don’t think you have time to work on training every day, you actually do! Take that morning or evening walk and turn it into an enriching and stimulating training session that you and your pooch can benefit from on a consistent basis.

 

 

 


2 Things You Should Teach Your Dog Today

The foundation for all “good” behaviour is impulse control (patience) and focus and response to handler. Animals are naturally impulsive; it’s up to us to teach them what we DO want them to do instead of constantly reacting negatively to what they are doing that we don’t like. How can we expect them to change their behaviour if we don’t teach what we would like. As always, methods that are non-confrontational and do not involve using fear or punishment has been documented as most effective.

1. “Let’s Go!”

Let’s Go is a great skill to teach your dog that can get you out of sticky situations or prevent incidents from occurring.  Teaching your dog that it’s not safe, nor realistic, for them to pull towards every dog, human or bird they desire is critical. Animals are impulsive; they are animals. If we don’t want them to act on their impulses, it’s up to us to teach them a different skill that pays off as much, or better, than what they’d like access to.

I love Emily Larlham’s of Dogmantics demo of teaching Let’s Go. You can use a marker word “yes” instead of a clicker.

2. Wait…

Impulse control = patience. I like to teach a Wait before giving meals or any time when I think my dog can become too “over the top” and needs to dial things down a bit. Waiting before doors so that your dog doesn’t dash out into the street, waiting before jumping out of a vehicle or flying into the dog park… all good times to practice the patience muscle. I use a marker word “yes” instead of a clicker.


Why Calm Assertive Energy is Bullsh*t

Last year a woman came to me for help. Before that she had been desperate to stop her Rotti mix, Mason, from behaving badly and found a “boot camp” style trainer that promised to rehabilitate her dog. Upon meeting Mason, the man put a choke collar on the dog, and after Mason growled, the man hung him from his neck off of the tailgate of a truck. Amazingly, his only physical injury was tracheal damage, but emotionally Mason was heavily scarred. He suffered through a handful of sessions, as the woman still believed that a heavy hand was needed for such a big and powerful breed.  Eventually though, she realized that the man was abusing Mason, and she filed a complaint with local humane society.

When Mason came into my office, he was broken. He was completely shut down. Not understanding which behaviors caused the man to hurt him, Mason simply stopped doing any behaviors. (We call that “learned helplessness” in dog training, and unfortunately I see it all too often. Mason’s was the worst case I’ve ever encountered, though.)

Over time, with a complete change in working WITH Mason rather than AGAINST him, not only did he make significant positive changes, his owner was relieved that she didn’t have to use force and punishment to address his fears.

So, why am I telling you this story, if this blog post is about “calm assertive energy?” Well, one popular television icon associated with dog training has coined the phrase and his reach is far and wide. I often see the phrase splashed on websites and marketing materials from those that follow that belief. In fact, if you’re a dog guardian, you’ve likely heard the phrase “calm assertive energy,” because it is so readily used—especially when talking about fixing behavior problems, as it was with Mason.

If you’re looking to actually make lasting behaviour changes with your dog or a clients’ dog, allow me to walk you through the reasoning behind why you should tuck tail and run the other way if someone tells you that you should have “calm assertive energy” with your dog.

 

What does “calm assertive energy” actually mean?

You tell me. It leaves for a lot of interpretation. Calm could mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. The definition of assertive is “having or showing a confident and forceful personality.” So, if I remain calm and confident but I am forceful with my dog, they will change what I want them to change?

Which leads us to …

It isn’t quantifiable.

When I train any dog, I craft a training plan that spells out exactly what the dog can do today and what I need him to learn to do at the end of it. We come up with clearly defined steps outlining how to get from A to B. For effective behaviour change we need a desired and measurable outcome. How do we quantify “energy?”

 

Your dog doesn’t care about your energy/aura/mystical presence.

While we’re on the topic of “energy,” let me relieve you of one burden: severe behaviour problems are not due to your energy. It doesn’t help things if you are extremely stressed or anxious when trying to work with your dog; however, your aura is not what got you to where you are today. If your dog reacts aggressively towards other dogs or toward people, it’s not because you weren’t being Zen enough around him. There are so many variables that contribute to reactivity, and the way we fix it is to address and modify the way your pup feels about things that set him off. We fix the problem by teaching him that something he once perceived negatively is now a good thing. Change the emotional response, and the problem goes away.

A thorough behaviour change program including training plans and, often times, working with both a veterinarian and a behaviour consultant is necessary. Asserting your presence or strength by using force will only weaken the relationship you have with your dog and often times suppress true behaviour which will result in worsening the issue—just like we saw in poor Mason.

It perpetuates a dangerous behaviour myth.

Assertiveness relates to the dominance myth—that we’re in a power struggle with our dog, and we need to show him who is the boss. This is not only a falsehood; worse than that, it leads us down a dangerous path of using force and coercion to change behaviour. There is plenty of scientific evidence to accurately identify that dogs are NOT trying to assume an alpha position and that asserting dominance will not solve your problems. Beyond that, it can actually cause your dog to become aggressive, as a study led by University of Pennsylvania researcher Meghan E. Herron demonstrated.

 

In her study, the following techniques elicited an aggressive response from the percentage of dogs indicated:

“This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates,” Herron said. “These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression.”

 

It doesn’t help you, or your dog.

My goal as a trainer and behaviour consultant is to help you define the problem you are having and to give you a clear training plan to get there. We change parameters based on measurable results. There’s nothing murky about how this is executed. As a client, you deserve to spend your hard earned money on a service that actually gives you a clear path for behaviour modification.

Otherwise, it’s bullsh*it.

 


“Why Can’t My Dog Be Normal?”

Some days it can be a real challenge living with a reactive dog or one you find a challenge. They may pull on the leash like a freight train, bark at crows and try to attack them, or they may have more serious issues such as reactivity/fear towards people or other dogs, or guard items or spaces.

We love our dogs; there’s no doubt about that. Regardless of their imperfections, we really want to do best by them. When we face social pressures and judgment from those around us, it only makes things more difficult. Many of us live in shared spaces and close quarter with others. Some of us still live with family members. It may seem sometimes like everyone else has a “normal” dog while you struggle to make minute changes towards the better with your own. How can we cope?

Realize There is No “Normal” Dog

What is the definition of normal? “Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected” (Websters Dictionary)

When it comes to animals and behaviour, there really is no “normal”. It may appear to you from the outside looking in that your neighbor across the street has a very normal and perfect dog. He doesn’t lunge, bark or pull. However, what you might not know is that when he is off leash he indulges in poop-eating and dashes out the front door when not restrained, many times almost being hit by a car. Is this “normal” behaviour?  Absolutely, this behaviour is normal for an animal! But, the dog is not perfect, and it may drive the guardian nuts wishing his dog was “normal”. So these a few things to keep in mind when you feel as though you are fighting an uphill battle.

Recognize Small Successes

It’s human nature for us to focus on imperfections and dismiss the progress we make in life. Give yourself, and your dog, permission to feel good about the progress you are making. If you are not making progress, seek help from a qualified force-free trainer. Keep a log of some of your successes during the day, even if they are small. Give your dog feedback (think snacks and play) when he gets it right, even for the little things. Don’t look for perfection; we want progress.

Ignore the Haters

You’re going to be judged by your dog’s behaviour and you need to get over it. You cannot change others’ reactions to you, but you can develop a thicker skin and remember that you and your dog are a team. Keep your eye on the ball and focus on your dog, the training you are doing and the progress you are making. If a slip-up happens, it’s just a blip on the radar and part of the learning process. If someone in your life is constantly criticizing you or your dog, then have a script that you repeat to them. “We are working on it, no perfect dogs out there but we are making progress with our training.” Don’t let the negativity get you down and find as many situations as possible to set your dog, and you, up for successes you can use as benchmarks.

The Ball Is In Your Court

Remember that it’s up to us to provide training and guidance for our dogs if we are looking to make changes. The learning process for animals isn’t always an easy road; us humans tend to be inconsistent, confusing and we change the rules for our dogs quite often… leaving them to guess what the heck it is that we want from them! Slow and steady, consistent and clear. If training “isn’t working” then you either need a new trainer, need to clean up your own training, or you aren’t giving things enough time for your dog to make the connection.

Connections and Support

Realizing you aren’t in the minority when it comes to your dog and their “abnormal” behaviour can really shed some light onto the subject and reassure you that there are many dogs out there that are misunderstood and perfectly imperfect. If you have a family member or friend that is supportive – lean on them. Ask for help if you need it, find a reactive dog class and make connections so you can meet up when the classes conclude to practice or find an online group that shares accurate information so you can learn more about dogs and their behaviour.

The more we know about animal behaviour and the learning process, the better we can understand why our dogs do what they do. Appreciate your dog for the individual he is, quirks and all.


Leash Aggression or Frustration?

Far too many people observe a dog reacting at something and they automatically assume that the dog is fear/aggression. The best way to determine if your dog is experiencing frustration is via history of the dogs behaviour when off leash with other dogs. Do they typically play well with others? Aren’t sure because you haven’t tested the waters? If you are really worried about the safety of others and your own dog you can take the time to desensitize him to a muzzle, just don’t rush that process otherwise it may cause even more frustration.

Obviously a sudden appearance of something that startles the dog is causing the dog fear. However, what about a well socialized dog that reacts at other dogs when on leash, yet the dog has no bite history, years of off leash play without incidents, regular dog friends and dozens of leash greetings that go very well, yet the dog barks at other dogs when on leash when they cannot greet and even when they can greet, the dog barks. That dog would be considered frustrated not fearful, yet many people would label the dog fearful.

This misinterpretation of the dog’s reactivity could eventually hamper the dogs socializing but don’t be persuaded to peruse harsh methods to stop the barking. Humans that allow some leeway to the dog’s barking do much better in terms of results and eventually reducing the dog’s stress to acceptable levels. Fear is not an easy thing to spot for many people. Dog walks are intrinsically distracting for humans and canines. Many dogs “tough it out”, then one day start exploding, as the whole time they were not barking, or maybe barked but were “shushed”, they were still fearful. Bottom line; if you aren’t sure contact a qualified professional using science-based force-free methods to ensure your dog is never harmed in the process of training.

What we can do: DRI (differential reinforcement of an incompatible behaviour, in plain English let’s teach the
dog a skill that is not compatible with barking to PREVENT reactions while on leash. It could be disengaging… looking at the dog and then looking away, it could be giving you some eye contact, hand-targeting…. whatever is easiest for your dog. A well thought out training plan will include working from a distance FIRST because expecting your dog to respond to your cues if they are too close is not realistic.


Prevent Leash Reactivity

One of the most common behavior issues seen with our companion canines is leash reactivity; lunging, barking, snapping and shenanigans that look like a circus act and can embarrass the heck out of us. It may limit where you can take your dog, who you can interact with and in general cause you anxiety and stress.

First one must determine whether the reactivity is caused by fear or if it’s frustration. Both can look identical. If it’s fear, (or if you don’t know) then please contact a force-free behaviour consultant that works with fearful dogs.  If it’s frustration, here are some tips to help.

Start Them Young

In my puppy classes and manners classes we work on how to meet and greet other dogs on leash or, if the dogs aren’t interested in meeting how to calmly walk by other dogs and normalizing these interactions to prevent reactivity. If your instructor doesn’t offer coaching students the How-To’s on meet and greets you can practice on your own time by using the below as a guide. An ounce of prevention can go a long way and continuing to practice for the duration of your dogs life is well worth it.

Breathe & Loosen Up

You may be tense and stressed so take a few deep breaths and try to loosen up the tension in your body first.

Try as much as possible to not put tension on the leash. Your dog may put tension on the leash but your instinct may be to jerk your arm back so be aware of that and try and avoid using your leash like a lever. No need to send your dog any messages via the leash.  If your dog meets another dog on leash keep that leash slack.

Talk to Your Dog

As you approach and through the meet and greet “happy talk” to your dog because this can lower their anxiety (if they have any) and yours! “Good Buddy, have we met a new friend? Well done, let’s move along!”.  Silence isn’t always golden and your dog may take the silence as a sign something is amiss.

Short and Sweet: The 3 Second Rule

Meeting a new dog on leash can be hit or miss, no one knows how the other dog will react and sometimes we may not be too sure if our own dog will like the new dog.  Counting to three in your head and then ‘good job, let’s go!” , feed your dog a treat and move along. Nothing good usually comes of lingering.

If It Goes Wrong

Turn and go immediately. Don’t get upset no matter who’s “fault” it was. Dogs snark and argue just like humans so realizing it’s normal and moving along is key. Feed your dog a snack in case they are left feeling put off.  Best to reward your dog for moving along with you to offset a possible bad situation.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful to prevent leash frustration and gives you a blueprint on how to approach on-leash greetings.

 

 

 


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