Helping a Dog Learn People Reaching Over isnt Anything to Worry About

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 5, 2020

For this Omaha puppy training session we helped Phineas, a 5 year-old Pitbull mix who occasionally growls when people reach over him.

Knowing that Phineas gets excited and sometimes jumps up when people come to the door, I used a delayed entry technique; stopping the process of entering any time the dog showed excitement. At first it involved reaching for the door, then stopping and dropping my arm back to my side when the excitement started to show. I repeated this step several times before he wasnt reacting to my reach, at that point I started jiggling the door handle without opening it.

The delayed entry took about 2 minutes, but the dog was calm and did not jump up on Laura or myself at all. I recommened the guardians pretend to be a guest and practice this technique themselevs and have their visitors do the same. This will help Phineas practice being calm when people are at the door.

Throughout the session, I tested Phineas’ reaction to direct eye contact, body handling and movement. The only concern I had was when the cat was interested in the same thing Phineas was looking at or moving towards. If this becomes a problem in the future, the guardians should give us a shout to do some counterconditioning and stop any possible resource guarding conflicts.

After discussing the situation with the guardians, it appears as the three bite-nips Phineas has offered were when he was overly excited or in confined areas. While one bite is too many, none of them drew blood and all were reactive. Nothing I saw in this session indicated an aggressive or fearfully reacitve dog. I think these were more a case of unexpected situations that caught the dog off guard.

I handed Laura my camera so I could go over a counterconditioning exercise to stop a dog from growling when people reach over it (an activity most dogs are not fans of). You can learn how to use counterconditioning to stop a dog from growling or nipping (to communicate they disagree or are feaful) by watching the free positive dog training video below.

This is an easy way to stop a dog from growling when people reach over it. Stopping a dog from growling when someone reaches over it this way isnt hard, even if you arent a professional Pitbull dog trainer.

It would be a good idea for all the members of the house and their partners to practice this exercise. When done with guests, this should only be done after the dog is properly exercised and rested in advance, when there are no outside stimuli (sounds or activities that could add stress to this situation) and only after one or more of the guardians did it first as a warm up. Additionally, starting in an open space and working towards a confined area, like between the table and the couch, should be worked up to with multiple practice sessions in the open first. We want to make sure the dog doesnt bite or nip when anyone reaches over it and practicing this exercise should ensure that is the case.

We covered a number of other dog training topics in this in home Omaha dog training session. We recorded a roadmap to success video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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