Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recap: Training

Back in August, we started reactive dog classes with Mushroom. This upcoming weekend will be our final class. I can't believe how quickly time has passed! We've also seen a lot of improvement.

Yay, improvement. I can barely hold in my excitement.

When we started the class, Mushroom would whine, bark, and jump whenever we saw another dog on our walks. We would then have to duck behind a building or a car and wait for a few minutes until she calmed down.

Some of the main concepts of our reactive dog class were to introduce the dogs slowly and allow them each a comfort zone by using barriers. We would reward the dog for looking calmly at another dog, with the eventual goal of teaching a "look" command where the reactive dog would look at another dog and back at the human.

I wouldn't say that Mushroom's reactivity is gone, but over the past few weeks, her reaction to seeing another dog has diminished to a quiet, frustrated whine at worst. Several times in class, she was able to look at a dog and then look back at me.

We know that training isn't over once a class finishes, and we have to continue practicing calm behavior with Mushroom. As the class winds down, we're looking at several options going forward: Do we try to find more challenging public spaces to practice in? Do we enroll her in a "normal" group training class? Do we do something else entirely that I haven't thought of?

Ideally, we'd want Badger to participate too

For those of you with reactive dogs, what have you done to maintain good behavior after the class finishes?

P.S. If you think you might have a reactive dog, check out this great post by Love & a Six-Foot Leash!


  1. I definitely recommend finding another class to attend. I think it is good to keep up the momentum you've built from this class and take it into another one. But maybe try to pick a very small class so you aren't pushing Mushroom's limits too much.

    1. We (the humans) are checking a class out tomorrow, and I'll definitely be sure to ask about class size.

  2. Good job! I would do definitely try to find public places to practice. That way it isn't so exciting each time he sees another dog. And he knows the rules apply outside of class too. Good luck1

  3. Great work with Mushroom! I find a combination of classes and work in "real life" situations to be help a lot -- that way Zoe never knows when she'll be called on to work. I hope you guys only continue to make more progress! :)