Okay, so far you’ve been avoiding triggers whenever possible, and every time they happen notice a trigger. shovelling snackies into your dog’s gob, as we say back home.
It’s really easy for us to stay in management-mode or the Land of Avoidance. It’s more peaceful and less stressful in some ways, isn’t it?
My hope is that your dog’s general stress levels are coming down as a result of this “Cortisol Vacation”, making them far more resilient to stressors, able to learn and retain information and training, as well.
Let’s start sneaking around, finding those triggers at safe distances, of course! Every walk is an opportunity to find a trigger, create an awesome association, and put all that you’ve learned into play.
A few reminders:
- Distance is your friend! You want to be at a safe distance where your dog doesn’t feel threatened so that they can learn and retain.
- Trigger-stacking is very real! If you overdo it, you might find that by the fourth or fifth exposure, your dog is uber-stressed. Short and sweet is best, followed by a nap, some play, or some chewing.
Keep working on your disengagement cue – “find it” and your “u-turn” 2-3x per walk when there are no distractions. Remember that when we train a new behaviour, it’s not going to work in “the real world” with distractions for a little while.
Watch for that moment when your dog spots a trigger and automatically reorients to you for food! That’s solid gold! When it happens, go nuts! Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. But…don’t assume that this is a permanent fixture now – it might be a one-off because they’re feeling good and the trigger was far enough away. Keep working on it, knowing that you’re doing something right!