I’ve been working with a Cattle dog named Mungin recently. Mungin is a little bit reactive to a few things in the environment, mainly some dogs and children.
Mungin’s owners have had a few sessions with me at we are progressing well. The most obvious thing about Mungin is that he is well trained. He has an excellent recall, does sit stays and down stays well and has a good “look at that” and “watch me” response.
Often when I am working with clients whose dogs are reactive to other dogs or people, the client hasn’t trained the dog before hand. This can be for a variety of reasons and lots of pet dog owners don’t train their dogs to a high standard because they don’t require it for their relationship with their dogs which is absolutely fine in a lot of circumstances.
However, when it comes to behaviour modification, for example, retraining your dog so that it isn’t reactive, which takes a shift in how the dog sees and thinks about the stimulus which causes it to react, a well trained dog makes things so much easier and faster because the dog is able to respond to your verbal cues because you’ve trained it to. Mungin is the first dog I’ve worked with who is reactive but well trained. The benefit of this are that if he goes to react or is in the process of reacting, his owner is able to ask that he stops what he is doing and come back to her, sit, down, look at me etc.
We were working with Mungin recently and there were a variety of things going on around him. This was well into the session and we were making progress and he was doing really well. We stopped in an area of the park, it was a busy Sunday morning and my good lady who was out running while I was training, stopped by to say hello. This added stressor pushed Mungin over threshold due to building stressors (which I’ll cover later) and he parked and lunged at H. H backed off to give Mungin more space and I asked Stephanie, Mungin’s Mum to put him in a down stay which he willingly did. Mungin was then able to concentrate only on Stephanie as opposed to constantly scanning and pacing around which he had been doing. This had the effect of relaxing him and allowing him to focus on someone familiar. Stephanie continued to feed him which then classically conditions him to the busy environment. We did this for a few minutes and then gave the wee fella a break and took him to a quieter area of the park to play with his ball and clear his head.
So, if you train your dog basic commands, it makes it easier and faster for your dog to recover from future issues which may arise. Hopefully they won’t, and you’ll have the bonus of having a dog who willingly does what you are asking him to do because you have trained him to do it.