Tips to Help if Your Dog is Leash Reactive
Having a dog means taking nice long walks. However, if his behavior becomes unmanageable while on a leash, he may be leash-reactive, making that walk unnerving.
According to the article, “These Dog Training Tips Can Help Your Pup Overcome Leash Reactivity” at petMD.com, “Leash-reactive dogs are triggered by stimuli in the environment, responding with over-the-top behaviors that increase stress levels for the pet parent, the dog and everyone within barking distance.” Additionally, behaviors “can range from fear to frustration to true aggression,” however, there are dog-friendly ways to remedy the issue.
Leash-reactivity can mean a dog is anxious, fearful and trying to get away from the “stimulus,” the article said. The defensive reaction is used to “prevent further confrontations.” It can come from:
1. Lacking proper early socialization
2. A bad experience while walking
3. Punishment after he reacted
4. “Barrier frustration” whereby he is moved away from interacting with another dog before he is ready
You can help by “changing your dog’s perception of the stressor,” the article said. The goal is your dog eventually will associate more positively to the stimulus. Include treats and a “marker” such as a clicker or a particular word.
• Determine the buffer zone and keep your dog “below the point where he reacts to the trigger,” the article said.
• When your dog sees the “trigger,” mark it with the clicker or the associated word. Then provide the treat as a reward, continuing as necessary until you see the dog associating the trigger with the treat.
• As your dog is more relaxed, you can “begin to decrease the distance between your dog and the trigger during walks,” the article said.
Continue the method and always keep an eye on your dog to see how he is reacting. Keep treats with you as well.
Best Ways to Socialize Your New Puppy or Kitten
One of the many joyous occasions in life is bringing home a new puppy or kitten. You have to think about training, vet care, bedding, potty training, litter boxes, toys, etc. And don’t forget socialization.
According to the article, “Socialization of Dogs and Cats” at the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Socialization is the process of preparing a dog or cat to enjoy interactions and be comfortable with other animals, people, places and activities.” It’s best to start at 3 and 14 weeks for puppies and 3 and 9 weeks for kittens.
Start early so your puppy will be “a more confident, relaxed and well-adjusted canine,” according to the article, “Your Guide to Socializing a Puppy” at Vetstreet.com, which offers these tips:
• Teach your puppy to be relaxed in different situations so she can react confidently.
• Introduce her to sights, sounds and objects calmly and reward with a treat or toy.
• Expose her to other dogs, livestock, horses, birds, etc., avoiding dog parks at first, the Vetstreet article said.
• Introduce her to a variety of people, grooming, the vet’s office, car rides, shopping carts, visitors to your home.
The article, “Your Guide to Socializing a Kitten,” also at Vetstreet.com, says to introduce your kitten to different people, sights and sounds, which makes for a confident adult cat. Speak to your vet about when to expose your kitten to other cats.
• Get your kitten used to being touched and handled by different people.
• Expose your kitten to a variety of experiences so she is not scared or threatened later on in life, including a car ride, vet’s office, a crate, music, harness, groomer, other animals, tooth brushing, nail clipping and bathing.
The earlier you prepare your puppy or kitten for social interactions, the better adjusted and happier you both will be.
Keep Up with Your Dog’s Grooming Between Professional Appointments
Whether you have a dog who is high maintenance and needs regular grooming or a dog who is groomed less frequently, it’s important to keep up with grooming in between professional appointments.
“In addition to maintaining your dog’s beautiful coat, making sure that your pet is groomed will reduce the chances of many health problems, including painful tangled fur and the presence of flies and all the issues they present,” according to the article, “Keep dogs happy in between grooming sessions” at Petmeds.com.
The article offers simple advice:
• Remove your dog’s collar every so often when at home to reduce matting and irritation of the skin
• Brush your dog’s coat regularly.
• Clean your dog’s ears, especially if your dog has floppy ears, which are more prone to infections.
If you plan on at-home grooming in between professional appointments make sure you feel confident. You will get to know you dog, get in some bonding, and also notice anything unusual on his body, including lumps or bumps, according to the article, “7 tips for safe, stress-free grooming” at Animal Wellness Magazine. The article offers the following advice:
• Buy the right tools and keep in good condition, including brushes/combs, shampoo, scissors and clippers, blow dryers and nail trimmers.
• Find a good, safe and secure place to bathe your dog.
• Be patient and use positive reinforcement. Keep treats on hand “to reward good behavior, and give him lots of love,” the Animal Wellness article said.
• Go slow and let your dog get used to the experience and sounds.
• Groom regularly.
If you’re uncomfortable doing a full groom at home, do the basics and leave the rest to your professional groomer. You don’t want to accidentally hurt your dog or make him stressed so that he is afraid of getting groomed at all.