Now that the weather is warmer, there are a lot more dog owners outside enjoying the beautiful weather with their favorite pooch. For owners with reactive dogs, spring and summer can add extra stress to the daily walk.
Reactive dogs tend to over-react to situations. While aggression is a common sign, pets will also exhibit other forms of excessive behavior including barking, lunging, running, jumping, and crying or whimpering. Often, their owners are unaware of why their canine over-reacts to different events.
As common as this behavior is, for pet lovers, it can create a lot of anxiety and tension as they try to avoid events and the resulting negative responses from their four-legged friend. Simple, enjoyable moments can become challenging and unpleasant scenes. For those with reactive dogs, daily activities become anxiety fueled chores. The warmer seasons only increase the stress levels as more people, animals, noises and vehicles are also outside.
Rather than avoid these unpleasant situations, teaching the overreacting canine how to manage fearful settings will create a more positive experience for both dog and owner. These five steps will help:
1. Start Slow
Take small steps when teaching Fido how to cope with unpleasant spots. Small steps include walking one block instead of ten, spending five minutes at the dog park instead of an hour. Smaller, less stressful expectations will be easier and more manageable on both pet and person. Teaching an animal to become less fearful of certain moments takes times. Rather than create an overwhelming situation by expecting too much, too soon, take a slow, steady approach with realistic short and long term goals.
Consistency is key for any effective training program. Canines need repetition and routine to learn new skills. Teaching pooches new behaviors takes time; commitment to developing positive techniques and patterns should be beneficial to both. Consistent routines, techniques, and positive rewards will promote affirmative behaviors in tense settings.
3. Continuous Praise
Turn a negative situation into a positive one with ongoing praise. Doggies respond to their owner’s emotions. Praise, positivity, soft voice tones and a relaxed, happy demeanor will calm the pooch, reinforcing their coping skills in negative moments. Pet owners should never feel like they are over praising their four-legged family member; initially, their animal will require excess praise to help curb over reacting to stimulus. Praise often to reassure the furry friend that they are safe and handling the stress well.
4. Positive Reinforcements
Food, clickers, or toys can be used to reinforce the positive behavior. The right treat can motivate the dog and help redirect their negative feedback into positive receptions in unpleasant places. Most canines respond to reward based training programs; by rewarding their response to animosity with a favorite treat or toy, the pooch will understand that they are doing something good. Reward and praise systems are very effective for reducing adverse demeanors.
5. Seek Professional Help
Some canines will still show signs of over-reactivity to certain moments no matter how diligent their owners are with the training. When all else fails, contacting a professional who is trained to work with highly reactive and aggressive animals can create healthier patterns and routines for relieved owners and their best friends.
Walking or spending time with the over-reactive furry family member can be stressful for many dog owners. To teach pets how to remain calm and relaxed during certain situations takes time, commitment, and consistency.