Today we’ve had the lovely Kovu in for a session on his leash reactivity, pulling, slipping his harness or collar, and generally being a bit out of control.
Kovu’s story is a very familiar one for many owners of reactive dogs. He was good as gold as a puppy, but began to show unruly and boisterous behaviour around the 6-month mark, leaving other people and dogs wary and apprehensive. Once Kovu’s behaviour had gotten worse it ultimately meant more space would be created between him and what he wanted and starting a vicious cycle of anxiety and frustration.
After working through the fundamentals of engagement and loose leash walking it was as clear as day that Kovu is a nervous dog who wasn’t socialised or exposed to environmental stimuli as a pup, and this has created him feeling stressed and panicked while out on walks.
Using pressure and release we taught Kovu to switch off from the stimuli that was of little importance to him and taught him that being with his handlers and engaging with them is much more rewarding and anxiety relieving than pacing and pulling.
One of the biggest struggles with building a stronger relationship between a dog and it’s owners is the approach and level of which they’re able to build engagement. Training, feeding, playing and interacting all build currency with our dogs that we can then use to navigate them through difficult situations and environments. Without a good level of engagement it becomes immensely difficult to effectively communicate with our dogs, particularly when they’re in fight or flight scenarios.
By the time we began work with our stooge dogs Kovu was walking nicely at heel, engaging with his owners and non-reactive to multiple other dogs around him. Once we were able cut through the stress and anxiety his reactivity just fizzled away (see video in comments).
Kovu’s owners contacted us after a bad experience on a walk that essentially pushed them over the edge. After trying many different techniques and scouring the internet for answers, his reactivity was addressed in as little as an in a very relaxed and informal session. If you’re in a similar position with your dog don’t suffer needlessly for something that the right pair of eyes may be able to solve without issue.
Moving forwards Kovu’s owners have their homework to do to really solidify their engagement and replicate the same results time and time again, but we have no worries at all that they won’t nail it in a very short period of time.
Great work today guys and we look forward to meeting your other GSD Ghost in the near future!