One of the most popular and most important questions owners have when they sign up for a behavior program is “What should I do when we’re not training?”.
The answer is twofold; prevent the unwanted behaviors where possible and keep everyone safe!
Prevent the unwanted behaviors (where possible)
Ever heard “practice makes perfect”? Well, every time your dog does a behavior, they’re practicing it! That’s why it’s so helpful to prevent them from it.
This might include doing things like:
If your dog is leash reactive, walking them at times of day or in places where you’re less likely to see other people/dogs. Or, exercising them in your fenced yard or on a long line instead of walking them on the street.
If your dog barks at other people or dogs while you’re out, using parked cars to block their view until the scary thing is out of sight.
If your dog is afraid of/aggressive toward visitors, putting them in another room with a stuffed Kong or favorite chew while you have guests. (Or just meeting at your friends’ houses instead.)
If your dogs are having spats, keeping them separated with leashes, baby gates, doors, and/or crates.
If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, finding creative ways for them not to be left alone if possible. (Daycare, pet sitter, go to a friend’s or neighbor’s house, etc.)
If your dog guards objects or places, temporarily stop giving them access to those things. Or only give them guardable objects when they can be left alone in their crate.
By preventing our dog from rehearsing the feelings and behaviors we are trying to change, we make it easier to make progress! We also help reduce our dog’s overall stress levels. If you aren’t sure of what steps to take for your dog, let your trainer know and we’ll be happy to guide you!
Keep everyone safe
Many of our clients’ dogs are having such Big Feelings, their behaviors can pose a threat (emotional, physical, and/or legal) to others. It’s important to be mindful about protecting our pups as well as all the humans and other animals that share their world.
Help your dog avoid any situation in which they could purposefully or accidentally harm themselves or someone else. This might mean you avoid certain situations for now, or that your dog is on a leash instead of free, or that you leave your dog home instead of bringing them with you. (Bonus, if you’re taking action to Prevent the behavior, you’ve probably got this covered already!)
If you aren’t sure what to do, let your consultant know and we can help you.