Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reactive Rover with Kim Moeller: Tools for Managing Reactive Dogs

by Valerie K. Kane, HSSV Volunteer

Last Sunday, I attended HSSV’s Reactive Rover seminar, led by Kim Moeller. As I mentioned last week, the seminar discussed how to manage a “reactive” dog, one who barks and lunges on leash. Walking with your dog should be enjoyable, but with reactive dogs, walks can be stressful, frustrating, and embarrassing. After awhile you may even avoid taking your dog out at all, which isn’t healthy for your dog or your relationship with your furry best friend.

Kim taught us that it is important to start with a good training foundation: teaching “Sit,” a relaxed “Down,” loose leash walking and recall. Then, we learned specific techniques to manage reactivity, such as “Find It,” “Look at That,” and “Leave it.”

Find It: Move your dog away from an approaching dog by throwing treats in the direction you want to walk. Make Find It a game, so that your dog associates fun and treats with the presence of other dogs.

Look at That: Encourage your dog to look calmly at an approaching dog and then return focus to you to get a treat. Your reactive rover learns that he can look at another dog without reacting.

Leave It: Teach your dog to ignore objects, such as approaching dogs. Leave It teaches your dog impulse control, which is a good skill for all dogs.

These techniques are not difficult to master, but they require patience and consistency. More importantly, these techniques will help you manage your dog’s reactivity and will making going for walks something you both look forward to. I’m looking forward to practicing Kim’s lessons when I walk the dogs at HSSV.

Find out about upcoming seminars and events on the HSSV Event Calendar. The Reactive Rover seminar was sponsored by South Bay Trainers and Positively Trained, and videotaped by Tawzer Dog Videos.

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