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Use it or Lose it!

 

Read Connor’s great post below but I had to sneak in a few updates as well about classes and more!


Staffing Changes

After five wonderful years, we say goodbye and good luck to Tiffany Kellogg as she embarks on new adventures in central Massachusetts. For those of you who relied upon her for pet-sitting, we are referring folks to Molly Coddle and Walks of Nature. For boarding, hopefully the new PBC kennel will be up and running soon! Tiffany – we will all miss you!!!!


Group Class Information

services for dogsThe PBC training center is still a work in progress (you know how construction always takes twice as long as planned) but Connor is starting group classes thisOctober over at Exercise Finished. Join him for a fabulous fall session! All classes start SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1st!

  • Puppy class
  • Level I obedience (basic manners)
  • Level II obedience (intermediate manners)

 

You can register or learn more about Connor’s classes at Exercise Finished (located in Chicopee, MA).


Puppy Raising

We are so excited to be launching a new service – puppy raisers! This amazing service is ideal for people who want to have a dog from the time he’s a young pup but need some help with the challenges of house-training, crate-training and the other not-so-fun parts of raising a puppy. A beautifully designed program incorporating boarding with a trainer, bonding time with you, and lots of training, socialization and other awesomeness. Spots are extremely limited so if you are interested, email us today at elise@petbehaviorconsulting.com.

Puppy love


USE IT OR LOSE IT!

Guest post by Connor Grenier, CPDT-KA

When you were in high school, did you learn how to diagram sentences? What
about factoring a quadratic equation? You probably spent countless hours on these
or other similar tasks—algebra, lists of capital cities, conjugating French verbs… If I
were to have you sit down at a desk today, how much would you remember?
Chances are, you’d be a little rusty if you haven’t practiced since high school!
Your dog is no different. Maybe when you were in puppy class she was really good
at sit-stay, and a total rockstar at leave it. But when class ended and time passed,
maybe you noticed that her ‘stay’ was becoming more of a ‘pause’. Maybe ‘down’
started to mean ‘sit and stare at you’. Maybe even ‘come’ turned into ‘in a second,
I’m busy!’

My oldest dog, Red, has learned probably a hundred tricks over his lifetime. He’s 11
now, and since I practice about 3 of them with him, that’s pretty much all he
remembers. I don’t ask very much of him besides snuggling on the couch with me
and going for short walks, so all of the flashy tricks he learned when he was 4 have
gradually faded away. Of course, he’s got his favorites he’ll always remember
(anything involving barking or rolling around). And if he knows there’s food
anywhere in the house that he might have a chance to eat he’s the very model of ‘sit
to say please’. But if I asked him to ‘spin’ or ‘play dead’, he’d look at me like he’d
never heard those words before—since for about 7 years, he hasn’t!
Just like humans, dogs need regular practice to keep their knowledge fresh. When
we teach our dogs to respond to our cues, they are learning a foreign language so
that they can understand what we want despite being a completely different species.
Whether your dog is a lovable couch potato who just needs to be reminded not to
jump on guests, or an agility superstar who’s mastered complicated courses, when
they don’t have a chance to practice their skills they start to forget—just like those
French verbs.

The good news is, it doesn’t take much practice to keep your dog’s memory fresh.
Once she learns a new skill, it takes much less active mental energy (and therefore
training time) for her to maintain it than it did to teach it in the first place. Often,
just a few minutes a few times a week is enough to keep simple behaviors strong.
Try setting aside some time for practice, whether it’s 5 minutes a day or 15 minutes
three times a week, and you’ll see what a difference it makes. One simple way to
keep track of what you want your dog to remember is to make a list of everything
your dog knows. Do this on a whiteboard or in a notebook: ‘sit’, ‘wait at the door’,
‘leave it,’ etc. Put this somewhere easy to see, and every time you practice one of
these skills put a check mark next to it. At the end of the week, you can glance back
easily and see—did everything get practiced? Try to make sure all the important
behaviors get a check mark every week.

These practice sessions are a great way for you and your dog to spend time together.
It’s bonding time, mental exercise for her, and a great source of enrichment. Your

dog feels more fulfilled and happy, and you get a better behaved
companion—everyone wins!


Need a little more help? Send your dog back to school with us this September! Use
the code “BACKTOSCHOOL” for 15% off a day training package or the first month of
a subscription service. Our subscription service is a great way to make sure your
dog remembers everything you spent so much time on—you can choose your
number of lessons, from 2 per month all the way up to 16. One of our skilled
trainers comes to your house and spends an hour each lesson working with your
dog to keep them fresh and learning!

Schedule Day Training Now!

Construction has begun!

Big changes here at PBC!

 

Future home of the training center and boarding kennel


I sold my house at the end of last year and closed on my dream property a few months later. PBC officially relocated to 63 Ferry Hill Rd., Granby, MA in June!

Ferry Hill Farm is a gorgeous farm sitting on 18 acres of pastures and woods. Almost ALL of the land is enclosed by a fence, meaning dogs can romp safely and happily through acres and acres. Additionally, a huge, beautiful two-story barn is on site. This will be the future home of a training center and small boarding kennel. Also in the plans is a dock diving pool, an indoor play area for dogs and more.

Construction has begun!

Nomi surveying the construction

We anticipate being ready to run classes and offer boarding in November or December. Ferry Hill Farm is located right off of 202. It’s 15 minutes from Belchertown, Hadley, Chicopee, Amherst, Northampton, & Ludlow. It’s super convenient and a pretty drive.

We are busy updating our class curricula, looking at class schedules, planning for holiday boarding and adjusting our rates, policies, contracts, etc. to suit the new facility.

Have an idea for a class? We’d love to hear from you. Have some input about the kennel? Here’s a survey to gather information about what clients want.

Septic system!

Right now we’re planning on dog training classes for Reactive Dogs, Puppy Kindergarten, Basic Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Rally and Trick classes. We are also considering tracking, barn hunt and nosework options. We will continue to offer Reactive Dog Seminars at least twice a year.

Expect more updates soon as well as getting back to semi-regular blogs for motivation, inspiration, support and practical information for dog & cat training and behavior modification. For now, here are a few pics so you can check out what it looks like!

 

 

Morning fog by the main pasture

Autumn view

Construction with the border collies assisting

Spring is here!

Happy Spring, everyone!

As I look out the window, I still see the snow but when I am outside hiking with the dogs, the sweet softness of spring air is undeniable. It’s always an exciting time – seeing the flowers bloom and the new life peek through the brown ground, slowly spreading green around our beautiful Western Massachusetts landscape.

But wait, what about the dogs? Well, it’s exciting for them, too. There’s new mud fashion to wear, balls to fetch, training to do and seminars to attend! Read on to see about what’s new and upcoming at PBC!

 


Congrats to PBC puppers and their new competition titles!

We say goodbye to winter with some fun successes from our team. Connor and his dog, Daisy, completed their Rally Novice title. My NEBCR alum, Leelah Bean, completed her Rally Advanced title and Tally ventured out of the sheepherding field to complete his Rally Novice title.

Connor and Daisy complete his Rally Novice title

Leelah and Rally show off their title ribbons for new Rally titles

 

Curious about dog shows? Some really fun ones are coming up to watch and/or attend. This weekend the AKC is hosting the Rally National Championship and the National Obedience Championship down in Perry, GA. Check out www.akc.org for more information!

Looking for something local to check out? Visit the Eastern States Expo in April to see all the best locals compete in all sorts of dog sports including conformation, Rally, competition obedience and agility. The springtime show is 4 day epic event! See your favorite breeds and all the fun stuff they can do with some training and the commitment of a dedicated handler.

 

 

 


Hey you Midnight Dog-Walkers! Reactive Workshop registration is OPEN!

Yep, the time has come for springtime Reactive Workshop. If you are new to tackling the task of training your reactive dog to walk nicely on leash or accept strangers in the home, join us for just $25 as an auditor. If this isn’t your first rodeo with PBC and Reactive Workshops, work your dog in a safe & controlled environment.

Want to learn more or register? Click here and be on your way (working spots are limited to 8 so early registration is recommended to make sure you get your spot).

Please share with friends and family who will benefit from this workshop. Let’s make our dog parks, streets, and neighborhoods safer for everyone!

 

 

 


Ticks are out! 

Tick-borne diseases are no joke for you or your dog. Check out my blog on the various new products to protect your pet. You need to be safe, too, otherwise who will be throwing the ball for your dogs all season?! Learn expert tips now!

 


Looking for an amazing book to read?

https://www.amazon.com/Education-Will-Mutual-Memoir-Woman/dp/1501150154/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490117705&sr=8-1&keywords=the+education+of+willThe exquisite author Patricia McConnell has done it again. Her most recent book is a beautifully written story about healing trauma with both humans and canines. Deeply personal, vulnerable and honest, it’s a book for anyone who has lived with a reactive dog…and it’s also for anyone who has found solace and comfort with their canine companions.

Buy it on Amazon or by clicking here!

Winter Dog Walk Special & Winter Tips

Happy Holidays from PBC!

Oh hey! Before getting into the winter specials and whatnot, do me a favor? I’m planning the kennel for the new digs (more on that soon) and I’d love your input. What is the ultimate boarding experience for your dog? Click here to take a quick survey (only 8 questions). Thank you!!


WINTER DOG WALK SPECIAL

The holidays are wrapping up but the days are still short and cold–who wants to come home from work and walk the dog in dark, cold, icy conditions?! We’ve got the perfect solution for you!

For a limited time, PBC is offering dog walks with Connor for clients who live in Amherst, Hadley, or Belchertown.  Choose 3 or 4 days a week and then relax knowing that your dog is getting a midday outing!  For $40, they will get a 30-40 minute leash walk that also includes practice for their leash walking skills–exercise and training all in one.  Sign up now through our online subscription program and get a 5% discount if you book for the month of January, and a 10% discount if you book both January and February!

CLICK HERE to visit the scheduling link and choose your package! The walking packages are about half way down the page.


WINTER TIPS

Rock salt is BAD for dogs! Choose an alternative like Safe Paw to keep your pup’s feet in good form. If they do end up exposed to rock salt, prepare a simple paw bath by mixing water with a small amount of betadine (enough to turn the paw bath the color of ice tea) and have your dog rinse their paws after coming inside. Dry them well and consider protecting them with a product like MUSHER’S SECRET.

To dress or not to dress? There’s a lot of debate about whether dogs need coats, boots and outdoor gear to keep them warm and protected. In my experience, you need to 1) ask your vet and 2) use common sense. My border collies tear around the ice and can easily rip a nail or pad so they often wear booties on outside

romps. I’ve definitely seen dogs shiver and be quite uncomfortable in winter temps, while others could happily lay in the snow all day. If you’re curious about actual hypothermia or frostbite in dogs, click on the links to learn more. For most dogs that live indoors and are only outside for exercise and walks, there’s not a high degree of concern. But if your dog has the option of spending countless hours outside, remember that they don’t have common sense about when to come inside. Keep ’em safe! P.S. Clean Run is having a clearance sale and Hurta winter coats (awesome!) are a whopping 40% off! Check out the sale HERE! Seriously, they’ve got booties and all sorts of fun stuff on sale right now.

Exercise in the dark? Did you know that dogs have a special membrane called the tapetum lucidum that helps them see at night? So, if you’re up for some playtime outside after sunset, don’t worry about your dog not being able to find the ball or toy you throw. Hey! Cool factoid – that membrane is also why their eyes seem to glow in the dark!

Worried about winter weight? Pets that remain primarily indoors may need LESS food during the winter since their exercise is decreased. If you have pets that spend the bulk of their time outside, they may need MORE food in the winter since their little bodies work to stay warm, thus burning extra calories. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say it – don’t free feed your indoor dogs! Enrichment, enrichment, enrichment is the way to go to keep their minds busy. Feed out of a feeder toy (Kong Wobbler, Treat Maze, big Kong, etc.), train for meals or play hide’n seek to tire your pup out.


 

 

Fall Updates & Training Specials

Happy Autumn from everyone here at PBC! We are enjoying the last beautiful day before predicted rain and snow come into town. Snow pegs are in place!

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LESSON SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE FINALLY HERE!

We are super excited to have a new service for your pets. Seriously, why was this not created years ago!? It’s the best thing ever! We now have monthly subscription options for your lessons. You have Netflix for TV, Blue Apron for food delivery and now the same type of program for training lessons! No contract or commitment, up/downgrade anytime you want, no messy billing or scheduling – just the peace of mind that training is handled, happening and progressing. We’ll let you know when it’s time for a lesson including you and the family, otherwise, we take care of everything. Things get busy and hectic over the holidays so a lesson subscription will ensure that your pet isn’t getting overlooked with everything else going on. Oh, and did we mention that it’s also less expensive than regular packages or individual lessons?? Yep, AWESOME! And at the risk of being totally crazy, we are offering an additional 10% off for the first five people that sign up after receiving this newsletter. The coupon code is FIRSTFIVE. Here are the subscription options…

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Platinum Program

4 day training lessons per week. This is the ultimate training program, designed to train your puppy or adult dog from start to finish. Includes every aspect of training the perfect canine companion. Indoor management (counter surfing, stealing things), outdoor leash walking and coming-when-called, all obedience commands and tricks & anything else that pops up. Excellent for young puppies, dogs living with busy families who want a well-behaved dog but lack the time to train, dogs with serious behavior issues or smart, high drive dogs that need daily enrichment and work in order to stay sane and keep out of trouble. We even include potty breaks, nail trims and minor grooming! You literally save hundreds of dollars as compared to purchasing a regular day training package.

Gold Program

A super plan designed to keep your dog in good shape with training and behavior! You get 8 lessons each month, an average of 2 per week. Your trainer will maintain the skills your dog already has and work on building new ones. Good for adolescent hooligans, newly adopted dogs with some transition issues, dogs with mild to moderate behavior issues, and dogs that have done more intensive day training and are ready for a step-down. Also included is work on handling and grooming! When you sign up for the Gold Program, you get 8 lessons per month for the price of 7. That’s a savings of over $100 per month with Elise or $79 with Connor.

Silver Program

Whether you have a young puppy or an adult dog, it’s never too soon to get on a good training schedule. The Silver Program is 4 lessons per month, generally 1 per week. Your trainer will be there for day training, working on maintaining the skills your dog has, keeping a close eye on any issues cropping up, and problem solving anything else that needs to be addressed. It’s a great way to keep your pup in “school”! The Silver Program subscription has a 10% discount from the cost of regular lessons.

Bronze Program

Is your dog pretty well trained but needs the occasional touch-up? Has your dog done the bulk of the intensive training and is almost – but not quite – ready to leave the training nest? The Bronze Program is 2 lessons per month, generally 1 every other week. Your trainer will be there for day training, working on maintaining the skills your dog has, keeping a close eye on any issues cropping up, and problem solving anything else that needs to be addressed. It’s a great way to keep your pup on the right track with learning and behavior! The Bronze Program subscription is discounted from the cost of regular lessons.

 


BOARDING UPDATE

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Well, it looks like I have finally sold my house. Closing is scheduled for 11/30/16. I will be moving to an apartment in Belchertown temporarily and, unfortunately, will not be able to board most of my regulars. I could potentially board your dog if they are super well-behaved, ok to be off-leash, have no behavior issues with dogs, people or farm animals, and can go up and down stairs easily (the apartment is on the second floor). Otherwise, boarding is on hold until the purchase of a new home. A beautiful farm in Granby, MA has accepted my offer so now it’s off to the Planning Board to get special permits for training and boarding dogs on-site. If all goes well, I should be closing and moving in sometime over the winter. Keep your fingers crossed! If anyone has worked with the town of Granby regarding special permits, I welcome any guidance or advice.


LOOKING FOR SOMETHING FUN TO DO?

55710a0cf277e14639a72404a170b345After Thanksgiving, the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) runs one of the biggest dog shows of the year in our area. Come see us compete with our dogs, check out the awesome vendors (seriously, more fun dog stuff than you’d ever imagine), see all sorts of cool, rare dog breeds, watch fast-flying agility dogs, perfection in the obedience dogs and more! The whole family can come (except Fido) and it’s only five bucks per car! It runs Friday through Monday. I’ll be there all four days and Connor will be there Saturday and Sunday. Here’s the link for more information!

 

End of Summer Sale

We are excited to welcome cool breezes and sweat-free days here at PBC, although of course we’ll miss the summer. In order to send off the season in style, we’re offering you two great specials!

15% off Day Training for all rowdy pups ages 6 months – 18 months

Has your sweet pup become a wild dog?

Has your sweet puppy been replaced with a wild adolescent dog? We’ll help you find the dog you know and love. Connor will come to your house for 3 weeks, 4 times per week, and work out the wild and work in the training. By fall, you’ll be ready to walk in the neighborhood side by side, have visitors come in without warnings (or body armor!) and more! If you’re brand new to PBC, click here to schedule your appointment. If you’ve already worked with us and are ready for round two (or 3), click here. Remember to use coupon code SUMMER2016 to get 15% off*!


10% off Behavior Consultations with Elise

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Elise & her heart dog, Kai, back in 2009

You’ve enjoyed the summer but it’s time to stop putting off addressing the behavior issues you’ve been having with your dog or cat. Schedule your consultation today and you’ll be on your way to the behavior and relationship you’ve been wanting! Use coupon code BCE2016 to get 10% off*! This is for new and existing clients so spread the word. Click here to schedule!

*Depending on your location, there may by a mileage fee. Offers expire 9/30/2016 but you can book your services for up to a year from purchase. Questions? Email elise@petbehaviorconsulting.com!

 


Have you tried our online scheduler yet? It’s super easy and fun! To check out our full line-up of services and schedule an appointment today, click here!

 

Summer Specials & Updates

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! We’re sweating it out in Shutesbury and though it’d be a good time to let folks know about summer updates.

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Training Specials! (psst…use the coupon code SUMMERTIME to get a 15% discount!)

Summer Mini-Camp with Connor

An awesome way to refresh or kick-start your dog’s leash-walking and recall skills! Connor will come to work with your dog for two weeks, four times a week. Click here to purchase now!

Summer Bonanza Camp with Connor

Summer is a time for BBQing, swimming, hanging with friends and family. You should feel confident in your canines being part of the socializing! Bonanza Camp will get your dog in shape and keep him there so all you need to do is enjoy their company! Connor will come to work with your dog 4 days a week for 6 weeks, covering leash-walking, recall, leave it and more. Click here to purchase now!


Updates

Canine Good Citizen Testing (TEST DATE BELOW!) cgc-dog

We now offer three CGC tests through the American Kennel Club.

  • Canine Good Citizen
  • Canine Good Citizen – Advanced
  • Canine Good Citizen – Urban

CGC is a great goal for any pet and can reduce your homeowner’s insurance (depending on breed of dog and your insurer’s specific criteria). Visit the AKC site to learn more. Want to see if your pup passes the test? Join us on Sunday, August 7, 2016 for testing. Where? Horsepower Hill Farm in Somers, CT. When? 1pm-3pm. Register now! First person to sign up gets a FREE test (use coupon code FREECGC) and the next 5 people get a 50% discount (use coupon code 50CGC)!

Online Scheduling

We are loving our new online scheduling capabilities! You can now purchase and book your services at your leisure and 99% of the back and forth is eliminated. Convenient, easy and the feedback from clients has been that they love it as much as we do. Check it out…

Online Payments

To simplify and streamline things, we are moving away from checks or cash to an online payment system. Again, so far client feedback has been phenomenal about how easy and quick this makes things!

Interest on Late Invoices  

With the automation of invoices, if they are late, 18% interest is applied. Heads up!

Testimonialstestimonials1

Have you written a testimonial about your experience with our staff and services? Do you want to? We love posting testimonials so prospective clients can get a sense of us before working with us. It’s so helpful to understand what training and behavior modification are like from your perspective. Now, you can write and submit your testimonial directly on the website. Check it out! Don’t forget to attach a picture of your pet!

Do you have ideas about how we can improve PBC? We are always striving to make training as positively effective as possible. Interested in a service we don’t currently offer? Have an idea about improving an existing service? Tell us!


Summer Tips

Avoid Water Intoxication! We never think about our dogs drinking too much water – but it can happen! Remember to monitor dogs when swimming, playing in lakes or oceans or even at home with the hose. Water intoxication is deadly. Want to know symptoms and treatment? Click here!

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Avoid heat stroke! Overexertion can be dangerous for your dogs. Learn more about signs and treatment here.

Fleas and ticks are out and about! Click on the tick to go to the blog I wrote last summer reviewing all the products on the market. Choose what works best for your dog and family.

tick-prevention-and-treatment

 

 

 

 

 

Infinity and Beyond!

Did you know that if you have a dog, you have the most convenient, rewarding, and accessible hobby right at your finger-tips? It’s true – having a dog gives you instant access to the coolest VIP events ever. Want to get in shape? Do tracking with your dog. Want to improve your posture? Do obedience with your dog. Want to spend more time outside? Do nosework with your dog. Want to improve your memory? Do Rally with your dog. Of course I could go on but you get the picture. There are over 50 dog sports out there!! Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dog_sports for a fairly comprehensive list.

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In addition to helping you with your personal goals, you’ll get a ton of extra perks. You’ll make friends with folks that share similar interests. You’ll get to go places you wouldn’t have thought of. You’ll grow and learn and change in ways that will be surprisingly useful…and plain surprising!

conformation-class-dogs

Developing a sport or training hobby with your dog is a truly unique experience. Think about it. Your dog has evolved to work with you and the space for that relationship is huge. It’s not burdened with baggage the way that person-to-person relationships can be, it’s not hampered by anything. Your dog is always available and ready to go. And just like any great hobby, it requires you to get out of your head and focus on the moment. Stress about work, the drama with your family – all of that stuff goes away when you’re training. When you finish a training session, you realize that an hour just went by that your brain was wonderfully free of all the stuff that goes on in life.

I can’t tell you how cool it is to see clients go from having a dog as sort of a peripheral family pet to getting really into a dog sport. I’ve seen lives completely changed, people that have found love and gotten married, deep friendships developed – really remarkable stuff.

For those of you with a DWI (Dog With Issues), getting into a sport should pretty much be mandatory for you. It’s so unbelievably helpful. It builds confidence, helps develop strong coping skills, and gives you ample opportunity to work on weak spots and deficits. It’ll also give you the chance to feel less frustrated, to realize you’re not alone and provide you with a support network.

flyball

Spring is here! The weather has been so amazing lately and I can’t help but feel excited about getting out with my dogs and doing our various sports. Tally is herding sheep, Leelah is working on competition obedience and Nomi is competing in Conformation. Recently, I spent the day at a Training Party and I was the designated photographer. Afterwards I went through over 600 pictures, narrowing it down to about 70 that I posted on Facebook. As I scrolled through the pictures, I was amazed at all the love, focus and commitment that I saw between the dogs and their owners. It prompted me to think about how truly cool the dog community is and what a precious opportunity every dog owner has whether they know it or not.

So what are you doing today, right now (besides reading this blog)? Go to YouTube and check out some dog sport videos and see what catches your eye. French Ring, herding, lure coursing, flyball, agility, rally – there are SO MANY options! Watch a video, find something you like and then find a local team or club (I can help if you’re stuck). I promise, you won’t regret it!

 

Tips on Walking a Reactive Dog (or oh no, spring is here again!)

This morning a client emailed me, asking if I had a handout on how to walk a reactive dog. With the warmer temperatures and people starting to be outside more, her dog was really struggling with all the stimulation. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to her plight so I thought I would share these tips for walking your reactive dog. Keep in mind, in order to be successful, you need to have a training foundation already. And, above all, be safe!!!!

furious dog

  1. Walk him when he’s hungry and take super high value food for rewards and redirecting.

If he has a belly full of kibble and you’re carrying around milkbones from 2002, you are missing out on potential leverage you could have. You want to stack the odds in your favor so your dog has the best chance of succeeding. HUNGRY dog. HIGH VALUE treats. If he’s doing a super job, you want to reinforce that with something awesome. If he’s struggling a little, that pungent liverwurst might sway the balance in your favor and help your dog to get back on track.

  1. Walk him on a Gentle Leader or Halti head-collar.

Have the right equipment. Again, this should be something your dog has already gotten used to – don’t just throw on a head-collar and hope for the best. Have a strong, light leash 4 feet long. You want one you can wrap up quickly and hold in your hand (so nothing too bulky) but also strong enough to hold your dog. No retractables. If you’re even considering a retractable leash, you are nowhere near ready to be out walking a reactive dog.

  1. Before heading out, do some focus and emergency hold warm up in the house – don’t take him out if he’s already amped up.

Leaving the comfort of your familiar home and entering the Technicolor explosion of stimuli is a huge transition for your dog. Prepare him. Think of it like you’re going for a run. You need to stretch and warm-up first. If your dog has been snoozing on the couch for an hour, his head is not in the game. Help him by practicing some commands, making sure he’s grounded and connected with you before hitting the pavement.

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  1. Pick times of day and routes that are as quiet as possible.

Your goal is a successful, quiet walk. So, you need to be strategic about when you can go and, yes, this is inconvenient. Google “3am dog walker’s club” and you’ll be surprised with all the stuff about reactive dogs. You might have to get up earlier or drive to a quiet spot. But you can’t overestimate the importance of location, location, location.

  1. Quality is more important than quantity – better to successfully walk 50 feet than to have a nightmare 2 mile walk.

Sometimes we get so focused on “but he has to get his walk in” that common sense goes out the door. There are a lot of ways to meet your dog’s physical needs that don’t include spinning on the end of a leash as he barks and lunges at whatever it is that’s making him nuts. And you don’t need that type of workout either! So, if you are walking up and down the driveway fifty times and he’s not ready for the street, that’s OK! Quality over quantity.

  1. Do not walk him with your other dog.

I know you only have so much time and I know it feels unfair to leave one dog behind. But the simple, undeniable truth is that you cannot train and manage your reactive dog well if you have another dog with you. Holding treats, clicker, leash and a potential Tasmanian devil is plenty. Leave your other dog(s) at home.

  1. Remember your flowchart of behavior.

This is where you need to have put a training foundation on your dog prior to going for walks. If these terms aren’t familiar to you, back up and get a trainer in for some private lessons ASAP. So, remember doggy zen? Reward him for any auto check-ins you get from him. Let him know you’re paying attention and listening to him. If he starts staring or fixating on things, bump up the chart to asking for a Leave It. If he complies, reward. If he doesn’t comply, do a backaway. If he’s quiet and composed in the backaway, reward and proceed. If he’s still having a hard time, do an emergency hold. If he still can’t calm down at that point, abort the walk.  This is one flowchart for walking a reactive dog. If you worked with a trainer who used a different system, adjust as needed. The bottom line is you need to have a flowchart and a plan when you go for a walk.

  1. Be sensitive to trigger stacking. That’s when his stress builds because he is dealing with trigger after trigger after trigger. His ability to listen and do well will fall apart if multiple triggers get stacked.

Did he go to the vet yesterday? Did he flip out earlier that morning when UPS came? Did he hide last night during the thunderstorm? He can’t tell you that he’s had a helluva week and might be too frazzled for a walk. So you need to pay attention to what’s going on for him. When you grab the leash, he’s still going to wag his tail and act like a walk is the best possible thing in the world. But he might be pretty fried on the inside, which means he’s going to have a shorter fuse and less ability to tolerate triggers in the environment. You are his advocate and protector so pay attention.

  1. Walk with purpose and direction. Keep one eye on him and one on the environment. You will do much better if you are seeing things before he does.

Us reactive dog owners know all about the term ‘hypervigilance’. Sometimes I swear I hear James Bond music in the background as I walk a reactive dog and the owner is pointing out which dog lives in which house, who is on an invisible fence, which house has the kids that come thundering out to pet the puppy, and so on. The more you know about the environment, the better prepared you will be for managing whatever comes up and keeping things successful.

  1. Regard walks as a training exercise, not an opportunity for him to meander around, sniff, pee on a million things, etc. Be focused, prepared and think of it as work time, not play-time for him.

I know we all wish we had Lassie and could run through the fields without a care in the world. But you don’t have that dog. Maybe you’ll help your dog to reach Lassie status at some point and maybe that will never be an option. Accepting where your dog is RIGHT NOW is what you need to do. Your dog needs help to stay focused and safe when he’s out walking. If you’re mentally checked out, he’s going to take matters into his own paws and we all know how that goes. So, be all business and work that walk!

The last tip I have is to be kind to yourself and your dog. Dealing with reactivity is hard. It’s stressful. It changes your life. Sometimes it holds you hostage and sometimes it feels insurmountable. It does get better with training and management, I promise! Take a deep breath, remind yourself of all the awesome snuggles and good times, and keep on truckin’. Happy spring, everyone!

 

 

Reactive Dog Seminar

Hi all! We are running a Reactive Dog seminar soon so come on down!

Where: Exercise Finished Dog Training Center

When: Saturday, February 20, 2016

Time: 1pm-5pm

Cost: $25 for auditors*, $75 for working teams

REGISTER HERE!

If you haven’t worked with Elise before or are new to reactive dog work, auditing is required. You can always bring your dog to the next one!

Description
Are you very busy with your life? Are you part of the Midnight Dogwalkers Club (where no one else can see you)? Are you desperate to learn how to rein in your dog’s reactivity but not sure where to get started? We work on what owners need to know in order to succeed and teach dogs what they need to know in order to cool it. Ideal for dogs with arousal issues, hypervigilance, motion sensitivity and general impulse control issues including a history of snapping, lunging, basically just freaking out. Ideal for owners that are committed to their dogs and are looking for some efficient ways to help their dog reach the goals of walking nicely in a neighborhood, seeing other critters and not losing their mind, and more.
The first part of the day will be lecture and discussion about body language, your own experiences and we might toss in some science to help you understand how the reactive canine brain works. Then we’ll move into hands-on work! You will be introduced to several exercises that are key for getting your reactive dog to behave better. Registration will be for auditors and handler/dog teams. All working dogs in seminar must have a crate and be comfortable in it.