If you haven’t read Part I or Part II, please do so before proceeding. Part III, our final part of our Reactivity in Dogs blog series, provides specific tools that I have used to help reduce or manage my dog’s reactivity. Your mileage may vary.
Positive TrainingMany of Polo’s behaviors can be managed by training with kibble. For example, if we’re in the car and he sees someone through the window, he will bark and lunge at the windows. To keep him calm and quiet in the car, I trained him to jump down into the footwell of the car for pieces of food. You can practice this in the car while parked in the garage, and when you try it while moving, it is safest to have a friend in the car to toss the food for you. Be creative about solutions to this problem and understand that you’re trying to keep your dog from becoming triggered or flooded, where learning and training are unlikely to be effective. If your dog is not food motivated, this kind of training is more challenging but still possible. Similarly, if you are concerned that your dog may bite while at the vet, if he/she is trained to wear a muzzle, your veterinary team will feel much more comfortable and will be less likely to use restraint techniques that may trigger your dog. I purchased a basket muzzle for this purpose. So far, Polo is happy to eat kibble out of his basket muzzle like a small bowl, but we haven’t gotten as far as buckling it behind his ears. Click here for more information about muzzle training and different styles of muzzles. Your dog’s triggers may be completely different than mine, but given some creativity and work, it’s likely you can also manage some of the issues with positive-based training.
To Reduce Anxiety
1. Medication-specificPolo has tried a variety of medications to relieve his anxiety. Without medications, he will alert bark in the home all day long – at noises neighbors make, barking dogs, anything he hears or sees. Talk to your veterinarian – there are a variety of options available, only some of which are listed below.