This step by step guide to desensitizing a dog to approaching/socialising with other dogs. A simple collar and training leash and collar.
ü Large open field where you are unlikely to meet other dogs (only at first).
ü A friend who has an unresponsive dog.
ü A long training leash (so there is never any pressure on the leash).
ü Small treat rewards that can also act as a re director.
What to do!
- Ø Begin by getting other dog & handler to walk onto field approx 50 yards away and wait.
- Ø Start walking towards the dog with a loose leash praising for no reaction.
- Ø As soon as dog reacts this is his “base line”, turn and walk away.
- Ø Redirect dogs focus and walk to approx 1 foot of baseline, reward turn and walk away.
- Ø Repeat this procedure gradually decreasing distance between you and other dog. N.B this could take a few sessions, please don’t rush as it’s essential that your dog remains calm.
- Ø Once you are at the stage of getting approx. 5 feet away do not let dog lunge instead ask for a sit and reward.
- Ø Then you can release from the sit and walk past the other dog about 5 feet and again ask for a sit and reward.
- Ø If at this stage both dogs are happy you can allow them to meet. If he becomes excited or overpowering simply turn and walk away and go back a stage and repeat.
When following this program if the dog fails at a section don’t be disheartened, simply go back a stage repeat, and end the session. Never push to fast as this will undo any work you have done. Always work below baseline and always remove before a reaction, in cases like this a dogs primary reinforcer is the removal of what causes the reaction, your food reward is a secondary reinforcer.
Never use leash corrections, instead let the leash run its length whilst you turn around and walk, use kissy noises to get him to follow you, always reward when he is parallel with you.
Once you can do it with one dog add in others and make it different, one dog walking one staying still.
This requires you to do it again & again for it to be effective.