Dealing with an aggressive/reactive dog can be a challenging and scary experience for anyone with a dog. However, with the right approach and strategies, it is possible to help your dog become calmer and more well-adjusted. In this post, we will explore techniques to transform your dog into a more relaxed and happier companion.
1.Identify Triggers and Avoidance:
Understanding the triggers that provoke aggression in your dog is key to managing their behavior. Observe your dog closely to identify specific situations, people, or objects that trigger their aggressive response. Once you have identified these triggers, work on creating a safe environment to avoid or minimize exposure to them. By proactively managing their environment, you can prevent unnecessary confrontations and reduce stress for your dog.
3. Positive Reinforcement and Behavior Modification:
Positive reinforcement techniques are highly effective when dealing with aggressive dogs. Reward-based training focuses on reinforcing desired behaviors instead of punishing negative ones. Use treats, praise, and other rewards to reinforce calm and non-aggressive behaviors, such as sit, look or down. This approach helps your dog associate positive experiences with appropriate behavior and encourages them to make better choices in stressful situations.
4. Gradual Desensitization and Counterconditioning:
Desensitization and counterconditioning are valuable tools in reshaping your dog's response to their triggers. The process involves gradually exposing your dog to the trigger at a low intensity while simultaneously providing positive experiences or rewards. Start with mild exposure to the trigger and increase the intensity gradually as your dog becomes more comfortable. This method helps your dog develop a positive association with the previously feared stimulus, reducing their aggressive response over time.
5. Consistency, Patience, and Time:
Rehabilitating an aggressive dog requires consistency, patience, and time. Consistently apply the training techniques and strategies recommended by professionals, and establish clear boundaries and rules for your dog's behavior. Be patient and understand that progress may be gradual. Each dog is unique, and the rate of improvement can vary. Celebrate even the smallest victories and remain dedicated to your dog's well-being.
6. Seek Professional Guidance:
When faced with an aggressive dog, it is crucial to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who specializes in aggression cases. These experts have the knowledge and experience to assess your dog's behavior accurately and develop a customized training plan. They can guide you through the process of understanding the underlying causes of aggression and provide you with effective techniques to manage and modify your dog's behavior.
Helping an aggressive dog requires a comprehensive and compassionate approach. By seeking professional guidance, identifying triggers, implementing positive reinforcement techniques, and gradually exposing your dog to their triggers while providing positive experiences, you can effectively address their aggression.
Remember, consistency, patience, and time are key to transforming your aggressive dog into a happier and well-behaved companion. With the right support and effort, you can make a positive difference in your dog's behavior and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.
Signs Your Dog Needs Help
Dogs are amazing creatures that bring us joy and happiness in many different ways. They wag their tails, jump up and down, and make us laugh with their playful antics. But just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety too, and it's important for us as their caregivers to recognize the signs.
So, what does this look like in dogs? Well, it can manifest in a variety of ways. Some dogs may become more clingy, and seek constant attention, while others may withdraw and become more distant. Some dogs may pant excessively, pace back and forth, or lick their paws excessively.
Other signs of anxiety in dogs include changes in appetite, digestive issues, and excessive shedding. You may also notice that your dog is more irritable or aggressive than usual, or that they're not as interested in playing or going for walks.
Dogs also show communicate feelings with their bodies. Understanding their cues can help us recognize when they're feeling stressed or anxious. One common sign of stress in dogs is a lowered body posture. This can include hunching over, tucking their tail between their legs, and flattening their ears against their head. Some dogs may also avoid eye contact or turn their head away from you. On the other hand, some dogs that feel anxious may have a tense body posture, with their muscles stiff and their ears and tail held high. They may also pant excessively or drool more than usual. Which signs they show depend on the dog and their particular situation. Other signs of stress and anxiety in dogs include pacing, shaking, or trembling. They may also exhibit destructive behavior, such as chewing or digging, as a way to release their pent-up energy and anxiety.
But the good news is that there are many things we can do to help our furry friends manage anxiety and feel more relaxed and happy. Each dog is different and the treatment for stress and anxiety is will also vary depending on the triggers and the dog’s personality and temperament, and a few other factors. Not all solutions work for all dogs, but here are some things to consider.
We can provide our dogs with a safe and comfortable environment that's free from loud noises and other stressors. This can include creating a designated "safe space" for them to retreat to when they need a break, such as a cozy bed or crate.
Another way to help our dogs manage stress is through positive reinforcement training. By rewarding good behavior and teaching them new skills, we can build their confidence and help them feel more secure and in control. For some dogs play and exercise are stress reducers.
Finally, it's important to give our dogs plenty of exercise, love and attention in a way that the dog finds comforting and helpful. For example not all dog find pets comforting when they are stressed. So, know your dog.
In conclusion, while stress can certainly impact our dogs, there are many things we can do to help them feel more relaxed, happy, and secure. With a little love, patience, and attention, we can help our furry friends live their best lives and continue to bring us joy and happiness for years to come. Remember, our dogs rely on us to keep them happy and healthy, and by paying attention to their body language and providing them with the care and support they need, we can help ensure that they live their best lives.
If your dog’s stress is chronic and you are struggling to help contact a certified and fear free practitioner to support you and provide guidance.
.Hey there, fellow dog people! Are you ready to hear about some of the most adorable and challenging creatures on the planet? That's right, we're talking about puppies!
Puppies are bundles of joy that bring love, laughter, and snuggles into our lives. But let's face it, they can also be a handful. From potty training to chewing everything in sight, raising a puppy is not for the faint of heart. But fear not, my friends! We've got some tips and tricks to get you started working on some common puppy issues.
Potty Training Woes
Ah, the joys of potty training. It's a necessary evil, but it doesn't have to be a complete nightmare. First things first, establish a routine. Take your pup outside at the same time and same place every day. Then treat and praise them when they go potty outside. Make sure to clean up any accidents inside with an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate the scent.
Generally, how long a puppy can hold it depends on their developmental stage:
Chew on This
Puppies are notorious for chewing everything in sight. Shoes, furniture, even walls – nothing is safe from their little teeth. The key to combatting this is to provide plenty of appropriate chew toys, and puppy proof your home (nothing on the ground that you don’t want them to chew) If you catch them in the act of chewing on something they shouldn't, redirect them to a chew toy and praise and/or treat them for chewing on that instead.
Puppies need a lot of sleep, but getting them to actually sleep can be a challenge. To help your pup get into a routine, establish a bedtime and stick to it. Create a comfortable sleeping area for them with a cozy bed, and some toys to keep them occupied.
Socialization is Key
Socializing your puppy is crucial for their development. Introduce them to other dogs, people, and new environments. This will help them become well-adjusted and confident dogs. Socialization is gradually and safely introducing them to new people, places and things.
Training your puppy is essential, but it can also be frustrating. Remember to be patient and consistent. Keep training sessions short and positive, and always end on a good note. Make it fun, games are the best way to train young dogs. Be aware that not all training works at every puppy stage.
Puppy challenges can be tough, but they're worth it for the love and joy these little balls of fur bring into our lives. And with a little patience, consistency, and a whole lot of love, you and your pup can conquer anything together. That said, this is the time to get help if you are struggling.
Happy puppy raising!
Let's Get Tails Wagging!
There is not much as heartwarming as watching them romp around and play. Today I watched as my pup and kitten wrestled. It was awesome, teeth and claws flashing, but no one was hurt, and happiness was obvious. For young animals play is a time of discovery, and exploration, and lots of fun. But have you ever stopped to wonder what's really going on when your furry friends are engaging in all that adorable playtime? Let's take a closer look at the world of puppy play!
First things first: what is puppy play?
Playtime is an essential part of any puppy's development. It helps them learn vital social skills, develop coordination and physical strength, and, of course, it's just plain fun! Play can take many forms, from chasing each other around to wrestling to gentle tug-of-war games. The key is that it's all done in good fun and with respect for each other's boundaries.
What does healthy puppy play look like?
Healthy puppy play is characterized by relaxed body language, taking turns, and mutual enjoyment. You'll see lots of wagging tails, playful growling, and even some gentle play biting. Puppy play is also characterized by breaks in the action, where the pups pause to catch their breath or explore their surroundings before resuming play. If one puppy is getting a little too rough, the other will usually let them know with a play bow or by backing off.
How can you encourage healthy puppy play?
There are a few things you can do to encourage healthy puppy play. First and foremost, make sure you're supervising playtime at all times. Puppies can get carried away, and it's up to you to step in if things start to get too rough. You can also provide plenty of toys and games that encourage play, such as balls, tug ropes, and puzzle toys. Do make sure to be aware some dog may fight over toys. While they play nicely don't forget to give your pups plenty of love, treats and attention!
What should you do if puppy play gets too rough?
Even healthy puppy play can sometimes get a little too rough. If one puppy is growling, biting too hard, or otherwise making the other puppy uncomfortable, it's time to step in. You can redirect their attention by calling their name or offering a toy to play with instead. You can also use a long line to gently guide them apart and give them some space to cool off. Always remember to praise them for healthy behavior.
Puppy play is an essential part of any puppy's development. It's a time of discovery, exploration, and lots of fun! By encouraging healthy puppy play and supervising playtime, you can help your furry friends develop vital social skills, physical strength, and coordination.
If you have questions, or if your puppy is having difficulty with appropriate play, don’t wait,……get some help. Training and guidance now, will help prevent issues later. If you want to work with me, I offer three levels of service to choose from. I give lessons, provide follow up help you set goals, and coach you through a fun, easy training process. My focus is to offer your pup training that is most appropriate for them, so they can be a happy, healthy part of your family.
Prepare Your Pup to Thrive
I am obsessed with puppy behavior, and how to help our pups become the best and happiest they can be. If you are like me, and you've recently welcomed a furry bundle of joy into your home, you're likely wondering how best to help them be happy and healthy. Puppies, like humans, undergo a critical period of socialization that can greatly impact their behavior later in life. In this blog, we'll explore what the socialization period is and how you can make the most of it to help your puppy grow up to be a well-adjusted, friendly adult.
During the critical socialization period, which occurs between 3-14 weeks of age, puppies are particularly receptive to learning about their environment and developing relationships with other animals and humans.
Socialization is important because it helps puppies learn how to interact with the world around them. Puppies who are well socialized are more likely to be confident and less fearful, making them better able to handle new situations and environments. Socialization also helps puppies develop appropriate behaviors, such as how to greet people politely and play nicely with other dogs.
What is socialization?
Socialization in puppies and dogs is the process of exposing them to a wide variety of experiences, people, animals, and environments in a positive and controlled way. The goal of socialization is to help puppies and dogs develop into well-adjusted, confident, and friendly adults who are comfortable in a variety of situations. The most important point is introducing them so that the experience is positive or at least neutral. It is not just the exposure, but is the happy response to whatever they are being exposed to.
Effective socialization can include things like:
The socialization period is an important time in a puppy's life, and it's important to make the most of it. With patience, love, and positive reinforcement, you can help your puppy develop into a confident, well-adjusted adult dog. So, get out there and start socializing your pup today!
For more information on how to socialize your pup, or what is typical puppy behavior set up a free 15-minute call with me at calendly.com/petamorphosis/15-minute-service-consultation.
Puppy Comes Home
Photo by Zoritsa Valova on Unsplash
Week three point five of the Fab Four. One of my foster pups is going to her new forever home, and I am torn between relief and sadness. I will miss her, but I am looking forward to only three little ones to look after.
I keep thinking about Taffy’s next adventure. What her first few days will feel like to her? What will the first few days of a new family member be like for her people? Generally the first three days to one week is most difficult for all. Everyone is adjusting to a new schedule, and the dog is in a whole new world.
I expect that Taffy won’t be quite herself due to normal stressors. Some dog shut down during this period and others get exceedingly excited and others somewhere in the middle, but bear in mind that there is stress. This is Taffy’s very first time away from her siblings and my home. Everything will be new.
My advice to all of you brining a new pup home is to do everything carefully and thoughtfully as not to add to the stress of your new pup. In my recent post I discuss preparing for your pup which will help you be less stressed. I advise not doing to many new things during this time. The priority should be developing a consistent schedule so your new little one knows what to expect from their humans.
Think of this as a decompression time. Keep everything simple and the same from day to day. At day 3-5, begin to introduce novel people, places and things. As with any introduction make sure to help your puppy have a positive experience by pairing it with treats or toy play they enjoy. If at any time they tell you they are not comfortable just remove them and come back to it later.
Finally, use this time to have fun with your pup, and remember to reinforce all the wonderful things you puppy does.
My Puppy Needs What?
I found for abandoned puppies who have found their way into my home and heart. It is now day 15 of puppy mayhem😊. For all of you who currently have a puppy I salute you.
In my last post I focused on what to have on hand before you bring your puppy home. Today, let’s talk puppy development and what that means for you and your new pup.
Right now, my pups are approximately 8 weeks of age. The phase from 8-12 weeks is incredibly important time to introduce your puppy to their world. As this is a critical development period, and is your window to carefully, positively expose the pup to novel places, people, and other animals. The experiences they have now have a tremendous impact on the development of their brains and ultimately their behavior.
So at this time I am gently exposing the pups experiences like short car rides, crates, leashes, collars new people, and also gentle handling of their bodies. The more novel experiences they get at this age the less issues they will have as adults. The key is to introduce them gently and not force them into a situation where they are scared or stressed this will have the opposite effect.
New Puppy? Get prepped.
I am on day seven of fostering four fabulous pups that were abandoned on a rural road. Yeah, I know, who would do that? However, on a lighter note they are doing great. They are running, playing, biting and doing all the fun puppy stuff. But, I digress.
While puppies are amazing and I am feeling much joy, their presence reminds me of all they things one needs to do to get pups settled in. So, for anyone thinking of adopting or fostering a puppy I have created this list to puppy prep, and save yourself some stress. Do these things before you bring your puppy home. This list is not exhaustive but gives you a road map.
Set you pup up for success and manage them so they can do the right thing. Remember, puppies don’t know how to behave and want to explore everything with their mouths.
August 09th, 2021
My Reactive Dog Story
Last week my dog, Bella and I did something that I did not think was possible. We happily and calmly walked within 20 feet or so of half a dozen unfamiliar dogs and their people. I was in awe. There was not so much as a peep (or dare I say growl) out of Bella. This may seem small or trite to some, but to me it was thrilling.
If any of you have a reactive dog you probably understand, for the rest of you, let me give you some background. When I say reactive I mean that when on leash and within close proximity to other dogs lunging, snarling and biting at whatever is around including the leash and/or human body parts.
My husband and I adopted Bella from our local shelter 12 years ago. She did not always exhibit this kind of behavior, however in hindsight, signs of anxiety were present. In fact, the first months with her were uneventful, but soon after she began showing signs of anxiety and mild aggression then, soon after that we had our first “incident”. I bent over to pet her and she growled, snapped and lunged at me. I was shocked, and scared. I never expected this to happen to me. Within a year or so of that she also began to be reactive to other dogs while on leash. We tried many things to curb this behavior including positive reinforcement, and using mild aversive techniques with little success.
So how did we get from snarling and biting to calm well-mannered behavior? Well, I’ll tell you it was a lot of work, but I implemented a program to manage and to change her behavior (and mine). If you have ever tried to change your own behavior say starting an exercise program or to quit smoking you know what I am talking about. Behavior change requires focus on the unwanted behaviors, and the practice new of behaviors on daily basis.
The first step of the process for me was to understand canine behavior, communication and how dogs learn. Then I had the background I needed to work effectively with Bella. The next step was to work on basic obedience, and develop and implement a behavior modification plan. The knowledge I gained and techniques I learned over the years have not only changed her behavior, but have change mine.
The daily practice is focused on rewarding the behavior what I want, not to punish for what I don’t. Through this process I have learned to trust Bella (and she has learned to trust me) and mend our broken relationship. I now see Bella in a new way. I see what is good and how fabulous she is rather than this “demon” dog of old. Although I know that the negative tendencies can reoccur, I am empowered because I know how to manage some and change others.
The moral if the story for all you dog owners with aggressive or reactive dogs is that there is hope and you can build trust and share happy life with your dog.
Tips for success
What you can do:
For good handling techniques and management of reactive dogs “Skills for handling your reactive or hyperactive dog Sophia yin reactive dog video:
This is a fabulous “how to” video give you basic handling skills to help you manage your reactive dog. Genius of dogs, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods https://www.dognition.com/the-genius-of-dogs
This book offers insights info dog intelligence and cognition.
For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, Patricia B. McConnell. www.patriciamcconnell.com/store/For-the-Love-of-a-Dog.html. This is wonderful book that will help you understand the rich emotional lives of dogs.
Debbie Lewis, MS
I educate and support people as they deepen their understanding of their pet's behavior to create happy, healthy pet-people relationships.
Debbie Lewis, MS
Hawaii and beyond
600 Ainako Ave.
Hilo, HI 96720