Reactive dog setups are an art and a science. It's important to revisit your worksheets from the start of this course. You may need to update them as well Things change, as we well know!
When considering a setup, you want to be sure that have worked through this course and are feeling confident in handling your dog. If you feel like you're behind or you are not feeling terribly confident, don't bother with a setup just yet. Let's strengthen the foundation.
Preparing for a setup:
Know your dog's data inside and out. (Canine 360º^)
- Which environments are most challenging for your dog?
- What are your dog's triggers? (List from easiest to most difficult)
- What is your dog's currency? (Have a variety available)
Choose a dog who balances your dog out well, and whose human is compliant. Start with the easiest trigger and work your way up. If you have an explosive dog, choose a very calm, slow dog. Choosing a dog that your dog will likely not react to is actually a PERFECT first setup. You want to get comfortable giving direction to the other human while handling your dog. Don't throw yourself in the deep end on the first day of swimming class.
If your dog is human-reactive, choose a human who is compliant. Start with the easiest trigger
and work your way up.
Note: You won't be "working your way up" in one session - this will be over a series of setups over time. Don't rush to the finish line!
Choose your environment wisely. Empty parking lots, industrial lots, hydro fields, a neutral backyard, a training hall, these are all great places to use as there is more control over who is around when you are doing a setup. You need space, and something both decoys can hide behind to take a break. Avoid high-traffic areas.
Consider the forecast, the elements and the dangers in the environment. It's a good idea to do a scan before starting. Bring plenty of water for yourself and your dog, a stuffed, frozen
Kong for breaks, and a treat pouch full of fabulous food (+ extra!).
Tip: Communication is easier on a wireless earbud via cell phone.