Go for the whole dog!
So many times we get asked questions from folks with dogs issues. Stuff like: my dog barks incessantly, is reactive on walks, is growling at guests, counter surfs, is jumping on people and on and on. Typically dog owner’s minds go to the obvious issue that is most annoying and problematic.
But here’s the problem with that: What you’re seeing are the symptoms of a bigger issue. The reactivity isn’t just reactivity. The growling at guestsisn’t just growling at guests. They’re symptoms.
These symptoms come from stress, nervousness, and anxiety that arise from a lack of leadership, structure, rules, and accountability. The stressed, nervous, anxious dog is the dog who is going to freak out on leash, growl at people, guard his stuff etc.
This is why if you listen to our Q and A Saturday you’ll often hear us recommending foundation work (structured walk, sit, down, place, recall, and duration work etc) rather than just a more simple fix. This isn’t because we want folks to do more work, or to buy our DVD or any of that. No, the reason is because when folks address a symptom with their dog, the actual problem hasn’t been addressed. And it will most likely just appear somewhere else. (Not to mention symptom addressing means you never actsulły help your dog’s state of mind to return to a more healty space.)
We sometimes hear criticism because we have an actual program we adhere to. All dogs go through our foundation program – regardless of whether they’re resource guarders, dog aggressive, or suoer reactive. The reson is, all dogs benefit from foundation work. The foundation work address the whole dog. The state of mind that causes the issues.
Of course we also have specific protocols for specific issues, but these are always done in addition to the foundation work – if they’re still needed. Oftentimes after the foundation work the issues the dog came in for have disappeared on their own. Just like magic.
So instead of spot reducing (Thanks Laura Morgan for this phrase!!), go for the whole dog. Get his or her mind right through a more wholistic approach and be prepared to be amazed at the results you get.
P.S. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need:
- Stuctured walk
- Crate exercise
- Sit (not just for a second, but as long as you ask)
- Down (be sure your dog can hold this regardless of distractions)
- Place (long duration place work around distractions will change your life – promise!!)
- Recall (having your dog respond and come to you regardless of competing distractions or interests)
- Doing all of these on e-collar will give you even more value due to the psychological benefits of the dog feeling he’s doing the work on his own; because it empowers people to effectively communicate – even when they’re dog is more powerful than they are; because it allows you to have an invisible leash on your dog and get 100% recall)