What triggers you? What word or phrase that creates that negative emotional response that makes your jaw clench, turns your nerves to static & cause racing responses that smash around in your head like a pin ball machine?
The dog training industry is full of triggers …here are a few: Fur baby, shock collar, e collar, clicker, fear free, balanced training, purely positive training, accountability, no pull harness’s, prong collar...just to name a few
Add any of these words to a dog training face book group and watch the sparks fly.
Here is the kicker though… each one of us has a choice on how to respond to a trigger. We don’t have to get into senseless battles with complete strangers on face book with no results other than raising blood pressure.
We can keep scrolling …enjoy pictures of sunsets and funny memes. We can decide how we want to spend our time on social media.
’what does this have to do with dog training?’…you might ask.
Leash reactivity: this general term that describes dogs barking, lunging, growling and seemingly ‘lose their mind’ at the sight of a trigger. Triggers are generally other dogs, people, cars, bikes, skateboards etc.
Replace that person arguing with strangers on the internet with a dog that blows up at the sight of another dog….and there you have it.
The dog has an emotional response to what they are seeing which creates arousal. Arousal creates the crazy leash behavior. The INTENT of the dog could be aggression, excitement, fear, frustration, but the behavior we see is usually the same.
So how can this behavior be addressed? How can I teach my dog to keep 'scrolling'?
From time to time, you may see videos and pictures of our dogs biting sleeves, barking at the 'bad guy' in the blind, climbing walls to grab a tug or pulling a sled.
What is this all about and why do we do it? First…we are nutty dog people, so dog sports is in our blood. Once a person starts down the rabbit hole of a dog sport, there is a natural deep appreciation for a dog's intelligence, genetics and power. What a dog is bred to do...or capable of doing despite the genetic map is mind blowing.
‘You don’t need e-collars to help with reactivity. All you need is patience.’ The story of a deleted comment.
Last week I posted a pack walk video of my awesome students and their reformed reactive dogs, on the Eastern Prom. Some wearing muzzles...all calmly passing dogs, bikes and people. Triggers that used to make a field trip like this impossible for these teams. Owners were relaxed, laughing, chatting, and connecting with each other…something that people who don’t have reactive dogs take advantage of. No one was hyper aware, blocking their dogs from view or running off the trail with cookies begging for attention. Other path walkers cheered at the ‘parade’ of dogs and it was a beautiful and successful event. I am proud as hell of these people who worked and continue to work their butts off to enrich their dogs’ lives.
But one person who saw that video, didn’t see relaxed dogs and owners. She saw an owner or two carrying a e-collar receiver and that’s all she saw.
There are many terms that describe a trainers’ methodology that can be confusing to dog owners. Here is a little break down:
We train dogs. However, we see our job as much bigger than that. We help people. We want dogs and people to experience the best relationship possible based on fairness, clarity and balance. We use tools that we feel get the dog/handler team to the best place.
With the holidays right around the corner, we thought it helpful to create a list of some of our top favorite training tools that we've encountered over the years- perfect as gifts for the trainer (or dog!) in your life.