Reactive Dog Recovery Program Overview
Does your dog lunge, bark, growl, snarl, and whine uncontrollably when sees go after other dogs or people whether on or off leash? Doesn’t matter what you do to try and calm your dog, it only makes it worse? Do you feel embarrassed, nervous, frustrated, and stressed when your dog does this?
If so, your dog is ‘reactive’. You’re not alone though. Having a reactive dog is commonplace. Fortunately, there is help for your beloved fur-child. And help for you too! Reactive dogs don’t want to be this way. Reactivity is always fueled by anxiety, fear, stress, over stimulation, and over arousal.
These emotions, if not understood and properly addressed, make dogs hyper sensitive when certain things are in their presence. This causes them to react with unmanageable and unwanted behaviors. If the behaviors are repeated over and over, dogs become conditioned to be reactive. Their brain and body no longer knows how to relax and be calm when in the presence of those certain things. They only know to react.
The Reactive Dog Recovery Program is a six week course that:
- Teaches you the latest in reactive dog training methodologies and techniques. These techniques have been extensively researched, scientifically proven, and developed over decades by world-renowned dog behaviourists, psychologists, and professional dog trainers. They are specifically designed to help reduce and/or eliminate reactivity in dogs.
- Provides you with in-depth verbal and written material, along with multiple hands-on practical exercises you and your dog will perform during classes and at home.
- Sets you up for future success. You will be sent an email after each class with step by step instructions of all that was covered. This will be an indispensable reference to help you continue to have humane, force-free, fear-free, and pain-free guidelines long after the course’s completion.
Goals of the Reactive Dog Recovery Program
- To provide you with information and knowledge to help you better understand the emotional, thinking, and learning ability of why your dog reacts.
- To help you teach your dog self-control so she/he can remain calm and relaxed in the presence of those things that make her/him reactive
- To give you the tools that teaches your dog how to make the decision to focus on something that is pleasurable for her/him, rather then reacting to the things that make her/him fearful, anxious, and stressed.
- To teach both you and your dog in a controlled class, home and outdoor environment (low distance, duration, and intensity) while using humane techniques(force-free, fear-free, and pain-free)that make her/him feel safe and secure while recovering.
Principles of Reactive Dog Recovery Program
1. Teaching your dog how to relax:
Teaching relaxation is the foundation of a recovery program for reactive dogs.
If they are anxious, fearful, over aroused, over stimulated, and/or hypervigilent, they simply do not have the ability to be calm, enabling them to learn more acceptable behaviours.
There are several techniques you will learn during the Reactive Dog Recovery Program to teach your dog how to relax and remain calm:
- Tellington TTouch and Massage (Designed by Linda Tellington-Jones)
- Relaxation Protocol (Designed by Dr. Karen Overall)
- Capturing Calmness/Default Settle – (Rewarding with treats when dog naturally relaxes without being cued)
- Clicker training (Designed by Karen Pryor)
- The Calm Chin Rest – (Designed by Kikopup of Youtube)
- Desensitization and Counter-conditioning.
- Desensitization means to reduce and/or eliminate the exaggerated, emotion-based reaction that the dog has to her/his triggers.
- Counter-conditioning just means to re-teach the dog to have a pleasant feeling and reaction toward something that (s)he once feared or disliked by associating the feared thing with something good so that it predicts good things)
2. Learning, understanding, and respecting your dog’s body language:
Your dog is continuously communicating with you, other dogs, and her/his surroundings using every part of her/his body.
It’s a simple body language to learn and understand. Once you do, you begin to know exactly what (s)he is feeling at all times.
You will learn in-depth Canine Body Language and Calming Signals to help you recognize when your dog is becoming stressed, anxious, fearful, over aroused, over stimulated and ultimately reactive.
With this knowledge, you can intervene at the precise time to prevent her/him becoming reactive.
3. Learning, understanding, and respecting how your dog’s mind works when reactive vs calm:
You will learn that it is important to know how a dog’s brain is functioning when in a reactive state of mind.
When a dog is in a reactive state of mind, (s)he is completely unable to learn anything, let alone, learn how to become calm.
Training is more successful when we learn how her/his brain works and why this is affecting her/his emotions and behaviour.
4. Teaching your dog ‘focus’ games and techniques:
- Find It Games (Hand Hold, Cup Cover, Ground Toss and Air Toss)
- Pattern Games by Leslie McDevitt
- Up and Down game
- Ping Pong game
- 1,2,3 Treat! game
- Ask Permission Game
- Leave It
5. Let’s Go – Giving into Leash Pressure and Loose Leash Walking
You will learn how to make your dog walk without pulling on her/his leash that helps to decrease her/his need to react.
6. Let’s Go and U-Turns
These are techniques to use when you need to leave a situation quickly when your dog’s trigger unexpectedly and closely appears.
Kindness, Patience, Deeper Connection, and Love
Anxiety, fear, stress, over arousal, over stimulation is difficult for dogs and humans alike. For reactive dogs, they are at the mercy of us, their humans, to help them with their emotional recovery when they are not able to speak up for themselves on this issue.
Helping your dog recover from reactivity can seem frustrating, daunting, and perhaps even hopeless at times.
Take heart knowing though, that what you’re doing for your dog does come with many rewards too. Not just for your beloved fur-child, but for you too.
To be so in tune with your dog’s emotional status gives you the most enlightening sense of pride, enjoyment, and happiness when (s)he shows even the slightest improvement.
Your kindness and patience forges a deeper connection with your dog that becomes life lasting, long after all the hard work of recovery is done.