Bark & Swagger dog parents are stylish, and there’s nothing more fashionable than having a well-behaved dog! This week’s Tuesdays with Justin looks at a really helpful tool to have in our dog training at home arsenal: redirection. When our dogs are doing anything we don’t want, knowing how to properly redirect them is key…and works well, with practice. So, grab your favorite beverage, get comfortable and dig into it.
And, don’t forget our weekly giveaway. Each week a lucky winner will receive a copy of Justin Silver & David Donnenfeld’s new book, The Language of Dogs, chock full of great training advice, tips, tools to use, stories and more. Details on how to enter below.
Tuesdays with Justin
(by Justin Silver with Dave Donnenfeld)
The Redirection Connection
Redirection in dog speak is most commonly associated with aggression. When dogs get into fights and are in the red zone, they may unwittingly “redirect” their aggression onto a person. For our purposes, we’re talking about changing course and repurposing a dog’s drive to perform a certain behavior.
We first utilized redirection in week two when we “redirected” our dog’s doorbell antics onto the activity of going to their spot, sitting and waiting to be introduced.
Whether your dog terrorizes the mail carrier, attacks a running vacuum cleaner, wants to tussle with every skateboard in the neighborhood or goes berserk when the bath faucet starts running, the fix is in the moment and in the art of redirection. Even the most hair-trigger dogs can form new associations, and redirection holds the key.
A dog pinning on an approaching canine can be lured with a reward, directed to a destination spot and taught to sit. Remember, no panicky bribes here. Owners need to be just as cool as Coca-Cola from a glass bottle before propositioning their dog as follows: “Would you prefer to bark your lungs out, or would you like to play a game called, “Here comes my cellphone-obsessed neighbor and her outspoken Yorkie.” In this game, the dog gets to engage you and its fertile mind by executing a few chosen commands. And if all goes to plan, a few treats and affection may follow.
The actual redirection occurs just before the dog begins its knee-jerk reaction. Be present, listen with your eyes and learn to spot your dog’s warm-up routine before it goes off the rails. The moment the ears go up, the casual gaze turns into a stare, the body stiffens, the tail vibrates, the ears pin…every dog has a few tells and identifying these is crucial, because this is the moment the game begins.
Inches and Angles
Find the right distance from a triggering stimulus. Your dog should be aware that its nemesis is nearby, but far enough away to remain quasi sane. Success or failure hinges on you determining this distance. Obligatory warning: Always high-tail your dog out of situations where aggression is a possibility.
In the case of a whirring vacuum cleaner, turn it off and allow them to approach or admire from afar. Once the dog loses interest, take them what you surmise is a good distance and fire up the Hoover (Dyson’s are whisper quiet). Immediately try to redirect the dog’s attention onto you. If successful, offer up a reward. If it doesn’t work, move a little further away, give your dog a moment to regroup and try again. As competence is gained, have the dog sit and stay a few moments before rewarding.
It Really Is You
Dave and I worked with a dog named Alba that was terrified of dolls. Yes, dolls (our client’s daughter had a collection that dated back to childhood). With her permission, we took a couple of Raggedy Ann’s outside and had to get a good 75’ away before Alba could focus on us. Her owner watched from the inside, nearly covering her eyes in terror at the prospect of her dog’s reaction. As we moved closer to the dolls, Alba became very reactive and her attention was clearly divided. Then, Dave yelled for Alba’s owner to move away from the window. Now out of sight, Alba’s fear of dolls dissipated like a deflating bike tire. The rest of the session was devoted to helping our client be less reactive around dolls. Needless to say, Alba was patient and understanding.
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Enter to win a copy of Justin & Dave’s new book, The Language of Dogs, a great dog training at home manual that’s easy to read and chock full of practical training tips that work. I reviewed it in an earlier post here.
To enter, just join the SwagTeam! If you’re already part of the Bark & Swagger family, you’re eligible! The giveaway begins Tuesday, May 12 at 7am EST and ends Sunday, May 17 at 11:59pm EST. Each week, we’ll announce a new winner and start the giveaway again.
Week 3’s winner is Yoli J. Congratulations, Yoli!
To get more info, great tips and fun pictures, visit Justin on: