• Michael D'Abruzzo

    April 12, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Awesome Sharon!  You are doing a great job!  I always tell people the key to managing most aggression issues is to not focus on correcting aggressive behavior, but to always give an alternative behavior for the dog in those situations.  Therefore, once a dog is barking at something the window of time is usually gone to teach the dog until you get the dogs attention again.  I tell people in the large group classes here that are filled with reacative dogs to watch the dogs eyes.  They need to focus on other dogs or people before they react.  So dogs get corrected for disobeying what they should be doing at the time, not for the bad behavior that is result of disobeying.   That is why if I am heeling with a dog and it stares at another dog, i say the word “heel” at the same time I correct and then of course community my happiness through emothional praise and sometimes a touch when the dog is back on task.  It is always the best way to avoid the problem to begin with.  This also is the reason why “perception” is over obedience at the top of our training pyramid.  Because, although a trainer can desensitize or counter-condition a dog to certain things that the dog has a bad association with without obedience, it is helpful and sonetimes required for the situation at hand to first have good communication and rules established through obedience before we can help the dog make a better association about passing by a dog or person on a walk.  For instance, if a dog would normally lunge aggressively at a dog in close range before training…. after obedience training we can teach the dog that lunging is not an option, but that still doesnt change how the dog feels about passing another dog.  When the dog passes multiple people or dogs without incident the dog natuarllly becomes more desensitized (or depending on the situation may even be considered flooded)a and begins to feel less threatened by the situations.  Now, if someone wants to have a pocket of something stinky and yummy this is the right time if someone wants to condition the dog to also make a better association with passing distractions.   Teh dog starts to percieve over time the successful passing of a distraction as reason it will get something yummy.  That usually gets reduced to a variable reward once the dog starts making changes.  In short, there are lot of techniques that can get employed to make it easier on you as a handler (and the dog) once true obedience is established.  It is one of the biggest walls that are hit with trainers that only train with reward when trying to change an association to a dog.  The lack of consequences (which does not have to be harsh) makes it impossible to get into a range that would be useful for real life to make the changes and reliability needed for good results.