A Follow Up Session for Maverick to Work on His Dog Reactivity

Maverick Dal June

Maverick is a two-year-old Dalmatian mix who I worked with in April. He was barking at people passing by or knocking on the door to his home and occasionally lunging at dogs he didn’t like. His guardian said he is getting much better at people visiting or passing by the home but still reacting to some dogs so we did a quick follow up session to focus on some counter conditioning.

I brought along a friend’s Scottish Terrier named Robert so we could practice this counterconditioning exercise. The idea is to subject a dog to something it reacts to, but in a controlled setting and a distance that allows the dog to relax.

The two tests I use are; Can I get the reactive dog to sit and can I get it to take a treat. If the dog has difficulty doing either, then you are too close to the thing the dog is reacting to. Once you find the closest distance you can get your dog to sit and take a treat at with the stimulus present, then you can get started.

The dog being in a calm and balanced energy level before starting is key when doing any counterconditioning. Many people mistakenly push too far and end up with a dog reacting. I only got the dogs this close for demonstration purposes in the above video.

It will be important for Maverick’s guardians to repeat this exercise over and over using different dogs; locations and distances until Maverick no longer reacts negatively at all.

It will also be important that they stop the exercise before reaching his breaking point and pick it back up again later. This process takes time and patience. But when done correctly, should solve Maverick’s dog reactivity issue forever.

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