Training is a vital part of being a responsible pet owner. Dog training helps prevent destructive behaviours, strengthens the human-canine bond and builds confidence in your pooch.
Given the many benefits dog training brings, it’s little surprise pet parents are spending more and more on professional training. In fact, according to Animal Medicines Australia, pet owners spent more than $900 million on training, behaviour and therapy services in 2022.
It may also seem that more dogs are misbehaving. Dog trainer and pet behaviour specialist Lara Shannon explains, “During the COVID-19 quarantine, many dog owners found themselves working from home and spending far more time with their pets. In some cases, this led to over-socialisation, and the dogs became too used to getting their owner’s attention all the time. Many of these pups now have difficulty sharing play space, meeting other dogs, and playing in the same area.”
What creates a reactive dog?
Sure, genetics can cause a dog to become reactive. However, often the cause is lack of socialisation and insufficient training. Certainly, COVID-19 lockdowns may be part of the reason we are seeing a rise in the number of reactive dogs.
“Being the pet parent of a reactive dog can be difficult. You’d like to be able to take your dog out to play at public dog parks and let them off leash, but instead, you find that they jump and react at every other person and animal you encounter. Working with a reactive dog to help them exist in the world more comfortably is possible, but the process takes time, energy, and dedication,” says Lara.
“Triggers for reactive dogs can include crowded dog parks, trying to play with dogs much larger than they are, and being introduced to too many new people at once. These triggers can cause anxiety and difficulty getting along with other dogs and may even cause a reactive dog to attack a person or another dog.”
Tips for dog training a reactive pooch
Reactive dogs can be helped with the right dog training and commitment. Lara offers these tips for working with your reactive dog.
- Avoid punishing your dog for showing fear
- Use private play spaces like SniffSpace to work on gradual training
- Reward calm behaviour with treats and praise
- Avoid putting your pet in stressful situations until you know they can handle it
- Introduce new people and new dogs slowly, one at a time, and in a safe space
When teaching a reactive dog, stay calm and always choose a space your dog feels comfortable in. It’s useful to know that dogs of any age can be trained to improve their reactivity. Also, bear in mind, the longer your dog has been behaving in this way, the longer it’ll take to change his or her behaviour. Be consistent with your dog training and your efforts will pay off for both you and your beloved pooch.
Related posts worth a read:
- How to deal with a reactive dog and leash aggression
- What is positive reinforcement training?
- How do I stop my dog barking?