“Reactive” is a term gaining popularity in dog training circles – but what is it, exactly? In her book Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, Applied Animal Behaviorist Karen Overall, M.A., V.M.D., Ph.D., uses the term to describe animals who respond to normal stimuli with an abnormal (higher-than-normal) level of intensity. Take a deep breath and relax. We have positive training solutions for dogs who "go off" or "lose it" in certain circumstances.
One rainy day afternoon that week, upon arriving home, Darren Ashby, an electronic engineer, sent his oldest son out to the pen to take Rufus for a walk. The boy came back in and said Rufus wouldn't let the boy get near him. Dad went out to help, and was horrified by what he found. What I saw made me sick
By your own standards, your dog’s life may not seem all that stressful – after all, he doesn’t have bills to pay, does he? But when you apply the more scientific definition of the word – anything that alarms or excites him, triggering his sympathetic nervous system into action and flooding him with the “fight or flight” chemicals adrenaline and noradrenaline – you may be able to see how many seemingly unrelated things in his environment actually contribute to his “misbehavior.”
Dogs bark to communicate. If we start with that simple understanding, the idea of dealing with a “problem barker” becomes a whole lot easier. It changes our focus from doing anything we can to make the dog “shut up,” to figuring out what the dog is trying to say – so we can address his concerns, and finding more constructive and quieter ways for communication to occur. We’ve asked two canine behavior experts to step in and help us solve the barking problem.
I was trying to be a responsible dog owner. We lived in a rural area of Northern California, in a house with no fenced yard. My boyfriend's Irish Setter had recently been shot and killed while chasing a neighbor's goats. A hard lesson to learn, and one I wasn't about to repeat. So when we were leaving the ranch for a day I insisted we tie up our recently acquired St. Bernard, Bear. We tied him to a tree, made sure he had access to plenty of water and shade and was nowhere near a fence that he could climb over. Confident that we had done the right thing, we drove off.
Electronic fences and their partners collars that deliver an aversive agent have been around for more than 20 years. They seem like the perfect canine confinement alternative to a solid physical fence. They are often marketed as the ideal fencing solution to homeowner association fence prohibitions and for problematic, difficult-to-fence, steep, rocky and rugged living spaces. But while occurrences of a collar shorting out and administering repeated shocks to a hapless, helpless dog are relatively rare, there are other drawbacks to using electronic fencing systems. A conscientious owner will weigh all the pros and cons before deciding whether or not to invest in this sort of fencing" system. "
As a holistic behavior consultant, I believe that most problems people experience with their dogs are not really dog problems but rather communication problems. Dogs don't have problems being dogs; they have problems being dogs who live with humans. Most humans don't even know how to communicate with each other! Every interaction you have with a dog teaches the dog something about living with a human.
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