Briiana, a new reader, asks:
So you’ve mentioned distraction techniques a few times now. Would you tell us what they are/what you mean when you mention them?
Sure! A large part of the problem has been me, actually. I see a dog coming, and I tense up, because I’m afraid of Ms. Pup’s reaction to the dog. She notices me tensing up and figures there’s something to be tense about. I also have a bad habit of tightening up the leash, which is counterproductive; the more restricted she feels, the more she’ll fight against it. I have to learn to relax and acdt casual.
If she just notices another dog, that’s okay, but if she reacts to it, tries to interact with it, or otherwise loses focus, I’m to give her a leash correction with a harsh “no”. These don’t hurt (I’ve tried them on my own arm), but they do get the dog’s attention. Putting the dog in a sit-stay if necessary can also help, although if we can casually walk by another dog, that’s preferable. Taking my time and making sure she gets things right, and not progressing until she’s gone through her sit-stay or up-stay properly is really important, because if she thinks she can get away with something, she will. Interestingly, she seems to respond positively to the added discipline and structure.
We’re also restricting her play with other dogs, and having her wear a Gentle Leader every day. The former is supposed to cut down on her automatic association of other dogs = play, and the latter helps me feel and control where her head is moving. Where the head/nose goes, the body tends to follow.
Making sure that our obedience and responses are solid on other commands makes a lot of difference for dog distraction technique too. If she’s responding well to one type of obedience, she’ll respond well to others as well.
This is some of what we’re doing. I hope it explains a bit.