Does your dog freak out and react stunned to his environment?
You have to have experienced it yourself. The feeling of powerlessness when your dog screeches on the leash, is no longer responsive and reacts hysterically to everything that has feet and can breathe.
If you are the owner of such a behavioral animal, then you know the many pieces of advice that come into the house uninvited from all sides.
Dog owners who raise their dogs with “No, Pooh and Aus” give unsolicited educational advice and spread the wisdom of popular TV trainers.
Tips from the horror cabinet hail and a lot of hocus-pocus is recommended.
But that really doesn’t get you anywhere.
You need useful tools.
You need techniques that help the dog in the situation and a guide that you can use to orient yourself.
Change of perspective
To be able to work with a dog that gets upset often, you should change the perspective.
Focus first on your dog’s feelings, not on the need to change their behavior.
A dog that has problems shows that it has problems.
Start by questioning your dog. Ask him what exactly is worrying him. In three days, write down everything that can upset your dog.
Make a trip list. Write down the time and the place where your dog freaked out. Also write down more information, how much excitement did your dog e.g. already experienced on this day?
What is the mood like in the family? Are people stressed out? The children may be writing important work at school, you have too many appointments and mom and pop announced their visit.
You want to know pretty well why your dog gets upset in certain situations, so it’s important to name the triggers.
Look at everything very objectively, make a note of everything without interpreting or evaluating it.
This is not easy, we humans always have quick recipes and interpretations at hand.
Sentences such as: “He knows exactly that he shouldn’t do this”, “He is totally stubborn” or “He always barks when he is jealous” does not help us.
We can’t look into the dog.
Maybe he’s stubborn, but maybe not. That your dog is always barking at the front door is a factual observation.
Without interpreting, you can wonder why he is doing this and how you can teach him to go quietly through the front door.
Create framework conditions
When does your dog feel good, when and where is he relaxed and where are the limits for your dog’s well-being?
Think about everyday conditions that your dog needs so that it no longer has to be “out of the ordinary”. Offer your dog protection and security within clearly defined limits. Be clear and consistent in the rules you set up and adhere to them yourself. Create meaningful framework conditions for your coexistence.
Clear framework conditions and rules that the dog can understand bring calmness to the everyday life of a nervous dog.
The first action to create optimal framework conditions is management. This includes all measures that prevent undesirable behavior. Design the environment so that your dog gets optimal conditions:
- If he can’t see the triggers, he may be less upset.
- A children’s gate can separate him from the family at the table so that he can neither beg nor disturb at meals.
- He is always chewed into a quiet room before the doorbell rings.
Management prevents misconduct. Unwanted behavior can therefore no longer reward itself, which gives us a better starting position in later training.
The most important tools for good management include:
- Privacy screen
- Children’s grille
- House line
Quiet in everyday life is the most important basis so that stunned dogs no longer have to behave out of the ordinary.
Favorable framework conditions precede any good training. Your dog can only learn if he is in the most relaxed state possible. Sometimes creating the right framework conditions is not easy.
Start at home in a familiar environment. Optimize the resting places, give your dog protection from too much excitement in everyday life and make life predictable for your dog.
Sometimes it can help dogs a lot if they are prescribed a reduction in stimulating stimuli.
Be it that a dog is confronted with less stimulating or that one deliberately omits one or the other exciter. A sensory diet can be the door opener to work specifically on the relevant stimuli.
Box, blankets or baskets should be protected from exciting stimuli.
Many dogs are not happy if they can control entrances, are exposed to noise from the stairwell, or are aware of restless visual stimuli on the street.
Keep in mind that your dog needs 18 to 20 hours of rest a day. Keep shelter safe and teach your children that a sleeping dog should never be disturbed.
Your dog cannot stay alone long enough and shows his discomfort by destructively redecorating the apartment or by whimpering, barking or whining?
The training will take some time, so in the meantime you should make sure that your dog does not panic through management. Hire a dog nanny, a dog sitter or ask a neighbor if she will take care of your dog until your training is successful.
Protect your dog from things that it cannot cope with. It will strengthen his trust in you and promote your bond.
The important thing is: Do not wait until your dog thinks he has to protect himself.
Instead, actively intervene in situations and lovingly guide your dog into another environment where he can feel safe. Good timing is necessary and you should be able to read your dog’s thoughts very well.
Get to know the expressive behavior, find out how dogs communicate and how they look.
Counterconditioning – Give the stimuli a new meaning
Important: only the right distance to the stimuli leads to error-free training!
If the general conditions for your dog are right, you can start training on new behaviors.
• Help your dog cope with its environment by rewarding him for looking at creepy things (technology: management, click for look, look at that, mark + move)
• Reward your dog every time he has looked at something that is unpleasant for him and let him show you everything that is important to him.
• Remember you are responsible for protecting your dog. If he shows you that something is worrying him, praise him and lead him away from the trigger to his safety zone.
Create a distraction schedule. Take a lot of time for good training.
Your dog shows you through his behavior whether you are on the right track with the training.
If the behavior does not improve, then you have not yet found the right way for your dog. Be creative or let an experienced trainer coach you.
A training protocol or a balance sheet provide emotionless information as to whether behavior improves. Numbers don’t lie!
In training, you work step by step on the triggers. Be very factual and count your successes and failures.
Stunned dogs usually show a mixture of different undesirable behaviors.
They bark at other dogs, they jump at people, they pull on a leash, they cannot be alone or like to drive.
Not every dog does everything, but often a lot comes together and you should sort cool and functional. We cannot always train on everything at the same time.
What is not possible and must be prevented immediately? What harms you, your family or your dog?
Click for look or “I see something you don’t see”
For dogs, as descendants of group hunters and individuals who live in social groups, it is natural to display relevant stimuli and thus to inform the group members.
Techniques like Click for Blick, mark & move and Look at that work with this natural display.
At the same time, a high-quality reward in training emotionally reinterprets the stimulus. The stimulus that previously triggered stress now puts the dog in a positive expectation. The stimulus takes on a new meaning.
Your dog will start to cooperate with you through the training, he will show you what interests him more and more.
The attraction becomes an announcement that he can earn a reward.
When your dog begins to deliberately display stimuli and work with you by showing you everything, completely different areas of the brain are active than when he or she is reactive to something.
With pendulum training you can work specifically on the triggers and give your dog the time below his personal stimulus threshold to deal with the stimulus again and again.
Condition relaxation signals, such as relaxation word or fragrance. A well-trained resting mat, relaxation music and / or Relaxodog help to cope with stressful experiences. They bring the small dog brain back into a thinking mode and help your dog to check in again in your world and to become responsive.
Build up additional rituals, such as mutual contact, wellness massage, Tellington Touch and much more.
Don’t forget, the conditioned relaxation signals will help you too!
Mood transmission, virtual leadership
As social beings, dogs are strongly oriented towards us humans. We can consciously transfer our mood to the dog.
So-called calming signals, such as blinking, yawning, using the gaze and much more. give important information to a dog and can be used specifically. Dogs orient themselves, among other things, on the breath, the gaze and running direction, on our energy, running speed and muscle tone. With a little practice, all of this can be consciously controlled and used in a targeted manner.
Use autogenic training, emotional freedom technology and condition the relaxation signal for you too.
Rituals “And the marmot greets you every day”
Rituals give your dog security.
Stunned dogs need structure in everyday life and a regular daily routine.
Dogs get security by being able to deal with all distractions several times.
For example, walk the same paths over and over and give your dog time to grapple with its environment. * See: Pendulum training
Supporting games are: The Little Attention Game, Click for Look, Look at that, Dog TV
The relationship between you and your dog is not defined by command and obedience. Play calm games with your dog that promote mutual communication.
Go on a discovery tour with your dog. Find new areas, look around together, start thinking outside the box.
Who says, because you always have to run around in meadows, be free in the forest and walk in the city in the foot.
Go into town with your dog, sit on a bench and look around (dog TV). Let your dog look for treats in the forest or do rest exercises on the resting mat in the middle of a meadow.
The callback signals
Well trained recall signals will quickly bring your dog back into your world.
At the same time, they are friendly termination signals that nicely interrupt the planned or already started behavior.
Other RR signals are:
Blitzkehre and U-Turn
The reorientation signals
Hand target games
The “stop” at a distance
The follow – “He has to go through”
Every now and then the spatial conditions are unfavorable. In order to get out of the situation unscathed, your dog should be aware of signals that tell it to continue walking unconditionally. This prevents unnecessary tugging of lines and an arms race.
The “Let’s Go”
“Walking on a loose line”
Focus running with looktarget
Alternative behavior through rewards
Good training can be so elegant!
With cleverly placed rewards, you guide the dog elegantly into a desired alternative behavior.
If you have practiced this regularly, then your dog will even anticipate the alternative behavior after a while, because he expects his reward there.
And we have already provided friendly framework conditions again.
These games build alternative behavior through a smart reward:
Search target – the search for food (signal “search times in the grass” or similar)
“Come with me” – Counting the 10 treats game (see training plan “The 10 treats game”)
Lurking games, top or flop, doggy zen
The hand target games
Reward sequences and tricks
The route is the goal
Living with stunned dogs is exhausting and training takes a lot of time. Optimal framework conditions must be constantly renegotiated.
We cannot control other people and animals, so you will always experience situations that do not run optimally. Write them down on your balance sheet.
Learn to read your dog in his expressive behavior and trust him. Your dog knows best what he can cope with and what he cannot do.
Meet your dog with patience and love and enjoy every success in everyday life.
His trust in you is the greatest gift.