Less than one month ago, Nicklas’ mom came to us looking for help with his severe leash reactivity. To quote her, he “lunged and barked like a lunatic.” After completing several group dog training classes as well as private sessions with another San Francisco dog trainer, they had only seen marginal progress and the reactivity was still a serious issue.
Part of the problem with the other methods was that the proper communication tools weren’t in place and they lacked balance. We needed to have a conversation with Nicklas that involved him understand that he didn’t NEED to be reactive anymore. We also needed to layer in environmental structure and rules in the home to help alleviate his fearfulness and work on proper desensitization. Putting the appropriate amount of pressure on without shutting him down. It is important that dog behavioral issues are treated in a holistic manner, not just symptomatically. We needed to treat the whole dog, not just put a band aid solution in place.
Nicklas’ mom had the ultimate goal of taking him on more hikes and to the beach, but did not feel comfortable having him off leash due to his reactivity issues. Having off leash freedom seems like a lofty goal when you feel like you don’t have control of your dog on leash!
The picture above is from our training session with Nicklas yesterday afternoon. The entire support crew was enlisted for yesterday’s appointment! Ray and Bridget’s dogs, Luna and Nero and Gillian’s dog, Dexter and Mia were all put to work during Nicklas’ dog desensitization session. We start with a minimal amount of pressure, one or two dogs walking across the street and gradually, increased the pressure until all four dogs were circling Nicklas…all while he kept his eyes on mom! Look at that focus…so awesome!
During the session, we had some special guest appearances by neighborhood dogs that were also reactive, so that helped to put Nicklas and his mom to the test. They are an amazing team and did such a great job! This was only their second session after the Initial Evaluation…we can’t wait to watch Nicklas as he continues on in our training program!