For many urban dog guardians struggling with severe behavioral issues, there’s a moment. An EVENTUAL pause. No matter how extreme the reaction. The pup stops trembling, fleeing, freezing, lunging, barking, growling, or any other behavior that provokes judgmental looks from passersby.
We often complain about how easily distracted dogs are. But, our attention is also quickly drawn away from our dogs while walking.
We worry that our neighbors dislike us because our dog is always pulling and yapping at their children. Or gasp, think that because our pup is laying on the ground, refusing to move, that the stranger heading to work might think we did something cruel to our four-legged baby to cause him to flatten like a pancake onto the sidewalk.
When we’re working to help our dogs learn better responses to triggers that cause an adverse reaction, we torment ourselves that we’ve wasted our time when we hit a progress impasse. Or we get stuck because real-life tosses us a challenge our pup isn’t ready to handle, given his current skillset. And, boy, do we take it personally. Here are a few tips to help when you and your pup are struggling:
- Stop talking so much. We humans love to chatter chatter and often don’t realize our mouths are continually moving. If you’re frustrated and your dog is continuously ignoring you, chances are you’re ranting.
- Give feedback when your pup stops exhibiting unwanted behavior. Don’t treat. Verbal praise is sufficient. A dog who ceases jumping, barking, snarling, chasing squirrels, or yanking you down the street is WAY better than a dog who continues any of those behaviors.
- Go home or get out of the situation for a few minutes. Hitting the reset button allows you both to regain focus and restore emotions. If you and your dog are in an unbelievably heightened state of mind, continuing to stay in the same physical spot won’t do either of you any good.
- Keep a log of your dog’s behavior. It helps track the frequency and duration of undesirable behavior to remind you that your dog is doing much better today than a month ago. When we put a lot of effort into training our dogs, one doggie outburst can affect us emotionally. However, reminding yourself that your dog’s unwanted behavior lasted for ten seconds when you started the training process and now ceases after five seconds, you’ll relax. Plus, you’ll be in a MUCH better state of mind to help your dog make good decisions. Humans tend to latch on to the ONE bad behavior and miss many tiny successes, especially in very distracting environments.
Remember, dogs are very “in the moment” beings. Recognizing and commending your pup for making better choices, even if they’re not perfect, will help improve his behavior and prevent you from getting an ulcer in the process.