Oh, how I wish this book existed when Isis first showed signs of reactivity. Written by Annie Phenix of Phenix Dogs in Colorado, it contains all the lessons it took me years to learn. In this well-written, instructive book with color pictures, Phenix explains what it means for a dog to be above threshold and how to use counter-conditioning to unring that bell. She also debunks the myth that walking a dog more will solve the problem. Not true when those uncontrollable triggers encountered on walks push the dog over threshold. She compares it to trying to overcome a fear of black widow spiders. What if, just as you were getting used to seeing a spider at 10 feet away, someone dangled one in your face? Suddenly, 10 feet away doesn’t feel safe anymore. Phenix offers alternative ways to stimulate dogs’ minds without increasing their reactivity, such as nosework games and puzzles.
This book makes me cry, I relate to it so much. When Isis kept getting worse on the leash, and then when she bit someone, I felt very much alone. I felt like no one understood what I was going through, and I didn’t understand what was wrong with my dog. I’m so thrilled that other dog owners struggling with the same thing will have this as a resource.
Read the book, join the Facebook Group.
CARE for Reactive Dogs
A step-by-step guide to counter-conditioning reactive dogs, leading to positive emotional and behavioral change.
Dr. Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol
Sometimes, reactive dogs are so wound up that it’s hard to even begin a reward-based training program. Dr. Overall’s Relaxation Protocol helps you teach your dog to relax and defer to you: “This protocol acts as a foundation for teaching the dog context-specific appropriate behavior. The focus is to teach the dog to rely on you for all the cues as to the appropriateness of its behavior so that it can then learn not to react inappropriately.” Don’t worry about completing all the tasks and moving on to the next day. Work at your dog’s level. Lara from My Rubicon Days worked through the protocol with her dog Ruby and says, “Unless your dog is not the anxious, hyper-vigilant type that actually needs this kind of work, don’t be fooled by the ‘Fifteen Day’ protocol. The exercises are broken down into days, and each day into tasks. Ruby and I have been on Day 3 for thirteen attempts now.”
Animal Kind Training, Stanwood, Wash.
Humane, real-life solutions to training and behavior issues for animals of all ages.
- More than 20 years experience in positive training techniques for all species
- Clicker Training–Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
- Tellington TTouch–Certified practitioner for companion animals and horses
- Private sessions, clinics and demonstrations
I searched everywhere for support when I was struggling through the worst of Isis’s reactivity. If I’d known about these communities, I would have had better tools to cope, and not felt so alone. Some of them are closed groups that I highly recommend joining.