Deferring to You-Part 2
Walks with your dog are supposed to be enjoyable, but if you have a reactive dog they can quickly turn into a nightmare. Dogs that are scared of the world can find walks overwhelming and may likely “freeze” and not move. They can also lash out and snarl, growl, bark, and lunge. There’s a solution for this-deferring to you!
Tasty treats are essential especially when you start out. First you must identify what triggers your dog (what makes them lunge, bark, etc). Make a list of everything that sets them up and try to be specific. If it’s other dogs what kind of dogs? Male dogs, white dogs, long haired dogs, barking dogs? Same thing with people-is your dog just afraid of children, adults, or people with hats? Now we work with some classical conditioning to get your dog to defer to you.
Every time your dog notices something scary (from a distance where they don’t react, just look), start feeding them those yummy treats. When the something disappears, stop feeding them the treats. This is conditioning them to expect treats when that scary thing shows up-thus…deferring to you-looking at you! Treats + scary thing=not so scary thing anymore! As an added bonus every time they see the scary thing they will look at you-you will become giver of treats (you should be already but hey, backup isnt’ so bad). This will help build your relationship and they will see you as something positive (as hopefully do they already, but sometimes we can be scary if your dog is very afraid of the world). Soon you will find on walks your dog is more attuned to you and looks at you when a scary thing is nearby.