If your dog is already jazzed before you get out the door and you can't seem to make any headway after a few weeks in this program, reach out to me in the Community and let's talk about this. This can be indicative of chronic stress and a need to work closely with me and your Veterinarian as a team.
There are a few reasons for this:
- the food is too low-value in your dog's opinion - try something tastier, less chewy/crunch/dense.
- the trigger is too close - move away!
- the trigger is too intense - move away or block it somehow.
- your dog is chronically stressed and this environment is too much. Head home for recovery and catch me in the Community.
OUCH! Let's consider your dog's stress level, first and foremost. You might be too close to the trigger or the trigger is too intense. If not, and your dog just has a hard mouth, try putting the food in your fist and just opening your hand near the thumb/pointer finger a little so that your dog has to use their tongue to get in in there. I call this the "Kong Hand" because it looks and acts like a Kong with food stuffed in it!
You can also consider using a wet treat in a squeeze tube or syringe - wet dog food, canned tripe, etc. Lots of good ideas out there!
Absolutely. Remember that you're not using food as a reward here - you're using it as an associative tool.
If your dog will take the food and you're at a safe distance from the trigger, go for it.
If they're in full-blown reactive mode and won't take the food, don't force it! Just tuck it away and go into management/avoidance mode. No harm done.
Sometimes we're just stuck. It's really crummy but hopefully it doesn't last long.
Keep your dog and the public safe by ensuring you have a good grip on the leash and you are strong in your stance and won't be pulled over.
Put yourself between the trigger and the dog if you can.
Shovel food until you can get out of there. If you can't or your dog won't take it, just hang tight, speak calmly and in a reassuring tone, and then you'll get away and focus on recovery.
Advocate for your dog - prevent the trigger from accessing your dog. If it's a person, say "give us space" or "don't come closer". If it's a dog, tell the person "my dog is highly contagious - call your dog NOW!"
Remember not to punish even if your dog is losing it. Just breathe. Stay focused on keeping them safe. "My dog is not giving me a hard time. My dog is having a hard time." Repeat this to yourself.
You will come out of this with a racing heart but as long as everyone is safe, you're golden. It's a setback but you can overcome it.