So back in October 2013 we brought Twitch home from Ohio. Well ok Kris brought him home. It became apparent in the first couple months that he, Twitch, was reactive. To lots of things!
He would bark at every car door shutting outside.
He would bark at every voice outside.
He would bark at every person approaching us on a walk. At every dog.
It soon became so frustrating I quit walking him and resorted to runs in the yard or through the house.
Don’t get me wrong, he got lots of exercise and mental stimulation in other ways but I had really wanted a dog that would be pleasant to walk with. Certainly not one that was reactive!
So we put a plan in place last summer and began some Counter Conditioning (CC) to stimuli in the neighborhood. The CC involved Clicking and Treating (CT) for noticing people or dogs. If I couldn’t get his attention then we walked away and tried at a further distance.
Most of the time I could stop him before he would react but not always.
He has slowly gotten better over the year and a half we have had him. He no longer barks at every car door shutting outside. He doesn’t bark at the kids playing in the street. He is less reactive to people on walks though surprise people still cause an outburst. Overall the CC with CT has been working very well. If I actually walked him every day it would probably get even better but winter rain around here makes that less fun. For both of us.
Today we went for a run at Minto Brown Island Park with Twitch. He showed heightened interest but I don’t think he reacted to any dogs while we were there. He came to Side or Heel position and took treats while we passed within 5 feet of other people and dogs! It was a great day and it gives me hope! Which means next time will be a back step but holy cow what a good day!
Then I took Twitch and some agility stuff to Bush’s Pasture Park to do some training in distractions. He did really well for the challenges we encountered. He did react a couple times but not full out reactivity and was able to reorient to me quickly. We even did some off leash jump to weaves!
I hope we continue to have more days like today and less like the past. 🙂