This month’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop theme is
The Gift of Positive Training.
Oh, what a gift it has been. Leo’s leash reactivity has gotten so much better. I’ve started saying he’s cured, which is not entirely true, because he still exhibits barrier frustration, but man, I’m going to have to scroll down a bit to even find the last time he had what I’d classify as a “reaction” on a walk:
Sept. 8, He barked at two bikes coming from opposite directions and an off-leash dog. Barely registers on the reactivity scale. A dog barks at an off-leash dog? Who wouldn’t?
June 7, We had a particularly challenging walk and he barked and lunged at a bicycle after successfully NOT barking at a bunch of other stuff.
That’s two leash-reactive incidents worth reporting in the past six months. What it’s shown me is that success begets more success.
It can be hard to wrap your head around when you’re in the thick of reactivity. While trying to get Isis to accept Leo, we had what I considered a debacle where the dogs played for a few seconds for the first time ever … and then got into a fight.
A trusted trainer, who wasn’t there at the time, said, “It does sound like you had some minor success. It might be better next time. Remember that repetition of behavior creates habit. It they have a couple of good sessions, it would increase the chance for success.”
At the time, I thought, Yeah right. How are they ever going to forget hating each other?
Sadly, they never had the chance, but six years later, I’ve seen the concept realized: repetition leads to habit.
Example: Leo barks at bicycles from the car. Unchecked, he’d develop a habit of doing this, so he’d get in the car, expecting to find things to bark at. We got him out of this habit by using a Calming Cap. Now, if we forget to put it on him, or if he takes it off himself (sneaky bugger), he’s not searching out the window for things to bark at.
We have to be careful they don’t backslide. On a recent solo afterdark walk with Leo, I noticed a flashing light behind me. Good thing too, because it gave me time to ready the cheese. Leo didn’t react to that bicycle as it passed, but the next time we encountered an unrelated flashing light, he flinched, expecting it to be something scary.
The gift I want to give fellow people with reactive dogs is: Have hope. Work to have more successes than failures. You will see improvement.
Leo’s gotten so good, that a few times recently, he has seen a trigger across the street before I do (because it’s dark). I’ll feel him tense up on the leash and then he whip his head back to me.
Hey, did you see that? I’m supposed to get cheese now, right?
Yes, my darling boy. You get all the cheese.
This month, our generous blog hop hosts are giving away some positive training goodies! Click here for the Rafflecopter.
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