Helping a Little Dog Be Less Reactive for Car Rides

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: February 16, 2018

In this Omaha dog training session we worked with Wakka, a five-year-old Maltese, who was dog reactive and over excited.

After I arrived Wakka’s guardians explained to me that Wakka will be getting a new dog friend soon! The guardians have decided to get a new puppy in the next couple of weeks and they wanted help fixing Wakka’s dog behavior issues before bringing home their new puppy.

One of the main issues is that Wakka would get over excited to almost everything! He would get happy excited when meeting someone new or anxious and excited when getting ready to go for a walk or upset excited when seeing another dog or small animal. Since this over excitement was a common theme for Wakka I suggested to his guardians that we should get to the root cause and help Wakka calm down and regulate his reactivity.

Since going for car rides is one way that Wakka would get over excited I decided to use this as a way to teach the guardians how to help Wakka regulate his emotions. They can use this exact same method when helping Wakka with dogs, small animals and calming down when greeting guests. If you watch the video below you will see how I used the Behavior Adjustment Training or BAT method to help Wakka.

As you can see in the video we had an unexpected surprise when the doorbell rang. This increased Wakka’s excitement level over threshold and got him so worked up that we needed to take several steps backwards. I suggested to the guardians to make a list of all of the things that Wakka is reactive to and then rank order them from easiest to hardest for him. This way they can start with the easier things first and then work up in difficulty over time.

To keep up with Wakka’s good behavior the guardians will want to continue Petting with a Purpose to reward Wakka for his good behavior. Remember to implement rules and structure to help him receive small time periods where he can exercise self control throughout the day. We wrapped up this session with Wakka’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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