The environment and what is around can both positively or negatively affect your dog

There is one thing that ALL good trainers have in common. We are TOTALLY aware of EVERYTHING around us.

The environment and what is around can both positively or negatively affect your dog

We may be helping the dog in front of us but we are TOTALLY aware of what is behind us, around us, the sounds, the movement....the possible and probable.

Windy day ?

Your dog was aware of the 20 dogs on your it is aware of 100 in the area and cannot pin point their distance as well as before. This can make some dogs on edge. The information is distracting.

Most trainers dislike wind.

Car parked ?

There could be a cat under it, a dog about to be let out of the back seat or boot area. Is there a driver in the front about to drive it likely to be a very noisy car ?

Children in a front yard playing ?

Are they about to run out the gate ? Does one have a scooter about to leave ? Are they quiet or are they excited ?

Dog behind a gate ?

Is it older ? Is it there to alert its humans ? Is the gate secure or is there a section of the fence it could easily jump?

Dog on lead being walked ?

Is the walker aware of their own dogs behaviour ? Is the dog straining on the lead (this can lead to a reaction for some dogs). Is this dog giving yours a heavy stare or just a glance ?

At a local field....

Is there another dog or more than one ? Is someone throwing a ball nearby and oblivious to how close it can get to your dog. Is a dog off lead running and in a hyper excited state ?
Is one dog barking incessantly ? on earth can this help your dog ?

Awareness, awareness of environment, possible issues and most importantly how your dog reacts.

Many times I am told behaviour has come "out of the blue". In the vast majority of cases it hasn't come out of the blue......all signs were already there. Just not picked up on.

If you can tune into the environment and watch your dog you WILL learn valuable information.

Is the wind too much ? Does it negatively impact your walk every time it is windy ? That is information you can use. Walk when it is calmer.

Is your dog ball obsessed ? The dogs at the field have a ball 30 metres away from that why your dog has changed their behaviour ?

Does your dog suddenly dislike large white dogs ? Are you aware that the dog that barks the most on your walk is the large white dog on the corner by your house....the same corner where loud cars speed past ?

This takes a while to perfect but you can absolutely start to tune in more by stopping a few times on your walk and listening to the environment around you.

That is a great start.

Can you hear that loud motorcycle down the block heading your way? can now prepare your dog that doesn't like motorbikes (with focus on you, encouraging sniffing to relax or pull out a treat/toy to focus on or sniff out).

Did a mower just start a few doors in front of you ? Cross the road and encourage calmness and reward looking at the mower from a distance instead of forcing your dog to walk right past the object it dislikes.

All of this helps you make better decisions, but much more than that you will begin to see and hear things that affect your dog that you would have never noticed before.

You will KNOW that your dogs tail is bristling because you are coming up a parked car that a cat has just ran under, you can cross the road to avoid an issue......or get focus on you as you pass.

You will KNOW that the hesitancy in walking past a certain house is because there is a dog on their path that stares heavily at yours...again you can help your dog through that now you are aware.......BEFORE an issues occurs.

Start to listen. Start to look for possible issues rather than be forced to be reactive. I promise you it will change everything.

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2 comment

Great post! Much of the burden of managing a reactive dog isn't really a burden at all, but just good common sense. Being aware of your environment makes you safer, more appreciative, and calmer yourself. I hate seeing neighbors walking their dogs while they are on the phone. During the walk, you should be WITH your dog, not just at the other end of a leash. Why even have a dog if you need some other amusement to relieve the drudgery of walking them?

As the owner of a highly reactive dog, I can so relate to this! Such excellent advice.