Teaching an Anxious Dog to Focus to Help Redirect Her Attention

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 6, 2019

For this Omaha dog training session we taught 2 year-old Red Heeler mix Willow to focus to help her guardians distract her away from things she doesn’t like while also reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) in her blood.

Willow was a very anxious dog when I arrived, her head was snapping around at any sound or movement, a classic illustration of a dog with cortisol in its blood.

We spent over an hour discussing Willow’s day to day routine. I suggested some creative ways to increase her exercise, the importance of rules as well as dog behavior tips on how to easily add structure to help set see and respect her guardian’s authority through positive reinforcement (passive training and petting with a purpose).

To help reduce the dog’s stress, I showed the guardians how I train a dog to focus on command. My method utilizes Operant Conditioning and this method can actually stop the production of cortisol in a dog’s blood. You can learn how to teach a dog to focus by watching the free dog behavior training video below (You don’t have to be a professional Red Heeler dog trainer to teach this command).

Not only will this focus exercise temporarily stop the production of Cortisol in Willow’s blood, it will be a powerful tool the guardians can use to draw her attention away from things she normally reacts to.

Id also recommend the guardians use this counterconditioning exercise to stop Willow’s reaction to unknown sounds and objects.

Most of this session focused on ways to help reduce the dog’s stress. The more that the humans can assume the leadership mantle, the more Willow will perceive as things are handled and not think she needs to handle them herself. This process will take time, but since Willow’s guardians are so dedicated to helping her, I know she is in good hands.

To help the guardians remember all the dog psychology tips I shared in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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