In the past week, I have had two new cases dealing with dogs struggling from anxiety. It is common for a dog trainer to receive calls asking for help with aggressive behavior, however, nine times out of ten the dog is actually displaying high anxiety. This state of mind is all too common for owners not providing their dog with clear leadership and boundaries in their day to day routine. Dog training is crucial for creating a psychologically balanced and confident canine.
My goal is to find ways to snap a dog out of that mind set long enough to give me an opportunity to teach and reward a better behavior. Startlement is an excellent approach for this type of dog training – which is why I recommend utilizing a simple leash to fix a big problem. In both cases, I asked my clients to place a slip lead on their dogs whenever they would begin acting out. They would then need to pop the leash at each negative reaction, and the MOMENT their dog focuses more on the correction, they would distract them with rewards to encourage calm behavior. Almost immediately, both dogs preferred to focus more on their owners than dogs walking past them or people knocking at the door. This is how we begin creating positive associations with what used to build up anxiety!
If a pop to the collar is not doing the trick, dog training tools such as a water bottle or “Pet Corrector” spray are great additions to discourage your pooch from continuing those undesirable behaviors. I cannot stress enough the importance of REWARDING all calm and focused behavior that follows the corrections. A general rule of thumb is to reward your dog twice as much as you correct them each day. We can tell a dog what we DON’T like over and over again – yet if we do not show them what we DO like, they will simply go back to what they know best.
Some common signs of stress include:
(All of which are done out of context)
Pay attention to these simple signs to avoid misdiagnosing your dog. As pack leader, it is your duty to take all stress off their little shoulders and show them how to relax under your leadership when they become fearful or anxious.