Training (or more likely re-training) a dog who is fearful, reactive, or “aggressive” often begins when people try to fix leash walking problems or barking problems or recall problems. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (Keep reading. Details on this week’s prizes below.)
If you learn just one thing from us during Never Shock a Puppy, we hope it’s this: You cannot change how a dog behaves, until you change how he feels.
Dog Training: Why Force or Pain Doesn’t Work
Intimidating a dog or causing it pain is NOT the way to make him feel better about you or whatever scares him. And, the vast majority of seemingly “aggressive” dogs are actually scared. They are NOT trying to dominate you or the world. They pretty much want everyone and everything to go away.
Think of it like this: Dogs behave this way because they have learned that a good offense is the best defense from what scares them. Next time you see a dog flipping out or “being bad,” imagine him crying, “Go away! Leave me alone!”
Whether a dog’s fears manifest as…
- Barking/lunging/growling/ignoring you
Punishing these behaviors is a bit like punishing a crying baby.
Dog Training: Teaching Dogs New Options
Positive reinforcement dog trainers and skilled animal behaviorists use methods backed by all kinds of science to help dogs calm down. These include:
- Proper training tools, like head collars, harnesses, clickers
- Relaxation Protocols, which systematically teach dogs to be calm in the face of various stimuli (noise, movement, people, other dogs, etc.)
- Counter conditioning, which pairs something that makes the dog nervous with food or toys (something positive) so that the dog develops different associations with it.
- Anti-anxiety medications (prescribed by a veterinarian)
Often, clicker training is used. This allows us to “mark” the behaviors we want with a neutral sound. Those behaviors might include — being calm, sitting, not pulling on leash, etc. The click says, “Yes, that!” and then is followed up with a reward.
- Sometimes that’s food.
- Sometimes that’s a toy.
- Sometimes (as in Behavior Adjustment Training … called “BAT”) the reward is more “functional,” like getting to move away from the “scary” thing after offering a better, calmer behavior.
Dog Training Resources for Fearful, Reactive, Aggressive Dogs
We won’t sugar-coat this. Training or re-training a dog with these issues isn’t a quick fix thing. And, honestly, anyone who tells you it is … well, let’s just leave it at this. We disagree.
Never Shock a Puppy can only point you in the right direction, including:
Several of us in the Never Shock a Puppy coalition blog about our ongoing work with our fearful/reactive dogs. It’s a great way to learn and see real-world applications of these techniques and tools:
If you have other resources to suggest, please post a comment.
Prize Drawing #4
This week, we’ll be collecting entries for the fourth of FIVE prizes we’ll be giving away during the Never Shock a Puppy campaign. All you have to do is post a comment to this blog entry before midnight (MDT), Sunday, Oct 10, 2010, to be entered into the random prize drawing.
Because we hope to reach out to first-time dog owners and new dog adopters, people who self identify as such in their comment below will get a couple of bonus entries. (We’re working on the honor system here, folks.)
You can read all the official rules to learn more, but for logistical reasons, we must limit entries to those in the U.S. and Canada. We’ll notify the winner next week via email, so be sure you enter your email address correctly. Once we know via private email conversations, where the winner lives and what size is needed, we can arrange for prize delivery and for the dog training contact.
This week’s prize package includes:
- A new Halti head collar or harness from The Company of Animals (Thanks to our coalition connections through Best Friends General Store)
- A one-hour private lesson with a dog trainer in your area (paid for by sponsor K9Cuisine.com) and contacts gained via the No Shock Collar Coalition and Truly Dog Friendly)
- A $25 electronic gift certificate from K9Cuisine.com
- A toy supplied by Calling All Dogs
- A copy of the book Am I Boring My Dog and 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew by Edie Jarolim
- An autographed copy of Housetraining for Dummies by (Never Shock a Puppy Coalition member) Susan McCullough
Since in our chosen WordPress Theme, it’s hard to find the comment link … we’ve made a big one here.
How Your Donations Help!
Do you want to help spread the word about pain-free dog training? Then, we need your donations today!
As our service project, we’re raising money for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley‘s upcoming No-Choke Challenge. (More details on how our efforts dovetail on our About Page and on the No-Choke Challenge page.)
Just click the donation button on this handy-dandy donation widget to get started!
If for some reason you cannot see or use the donation widget below, please visit the Never Shock a Puppy Donation Site instead.
We’ve added donation incentives this week for donations over $50 and over $75. Check it out!
Never Shock a Puppy coalition members (and others, we hope) are blogging from their own sites on this and related topics. Each of us explain our opposition to shock collars (and other punitive methods in our own ways), so we hope you find at least one blogger who “speaks your language” so that you can follow our campaign in a way that feels most comfortable to you. Check out this blog hop to learn more.