How to Train an Excitable Dog to Calm Down around New Dogs Using Counterconditioning

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: October 30, 2017

For this Omaha dog training session we were asked to train two-year-old Goldendoodle, Winnie, to calm down when seeing new dogs using counterconditioning.

When I first arrived Winnie was an excited dog and a little nervous about me coming into her home. Winnie had recently moved to a new home and was able to see out of her apartment and watch the neighborhood dogs walk by her door. This can create a lot of excitement for a dog, especially as the neighborhood dogs get closer and closer to her.

To help Winnie calm down when she sees¬† new dogs in the neighborhood I used positive reinforcement to reward Winnie for being calm when she sees new dogs. Since we couldn’t predict when a new dog or person would walk by we broke this dog behavior training session into two parts. The first video covers the basics behind the counterconditioning method, which you can watch below.

The second video demonstrates how to use the counterconditioning method when Winnie sees new people or dogs in her apartment complex. To see how to do this, you can watch the video below.

As you can see in the video, the closer that Winnie gets to new people or dogs the more excitable she may be. We started off by giving her a lot of space and then gradually decreased the distance between Winnie and whoever she was reacting to. When you have a dog that has dog reactivity or people reactivity, the key is to take things slow to build up trust that as she approaches new people or dogs that she will be okay.

By the end of this dog behavior training session Winnie was learning to relax when she saw new people and dogs approaching her and looking to her guardian for leadership and direction. To keep up with this good behavior I want to encourage her guardian to keep using our Petting with a Purpose technique to reward Winnie for good behavior and use our Escalating Consequences to disagree with unwanted behaviors. We wrapped up this behavior session with Winnie’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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