How a dog went from barking at dogs over 40 yards away to listening in the vicinity of dogs just 5 feet away.
I adopted Loker when he was 2.5 years old from a no-kill animal shelter that had had him since he was 9 weeks old. He had been returned twice and, being an experienced dog trainer, I thought this “project” dog would be a quick fix with my expertise. Well, he turned out to be a much larger project than I could have ever imagined! He turned my world upside down. My techniques didn’t work on this dog and made him even worse.
Loker is an on-leash reactive dog. That means he barks and whines when he sees another dog. After my typical traditional and correction-based techniques didn’t work on him, I turned to positive reinforcement and clicker training. Thankfully, these methods proved to be a success!
In May of 2012, I took a 6 week group class with Loker to practice working around other dogs. I incorporated some of the new techniques I had learned about. My favorite was Click the Trigger – simply click and treat when the dog looks at the trigger (dog/person that causes a reaction). We began at a distance that was far enough away that he felt most comfortable and didn’t bark. That was about 40 yards away. Each week we’d move slightly closer as he got more and more comfortable and able to focus. On graduation day we were expected to show off the obedience the dogs had learned as well as a couple “showy” tricks, but Loker’s biggest accomplishment wasn’t the tricks, it was being about to lie down near several other dogs without yapping at them! I was beaming with pride.
The moral of this story is that it WILL get better. If you are committed to your dog and his/her training, you will see results. Find
a good teacher to teach you the techniques and you will see improvements. It’s not easy, but it is possible! Keep Calm and Carry On!