What’s The Difference Between Leash Reactivity And Leash Aggression?

What’s The Difference Between Leash Reactivity And Leash Aggression?

There’s been a lot of confusion between this two terms: leash reactivity and leash aggression. I’ve even read very strange and confusing explanations of these two labels. 

Let’s start with leash reactivity

Why’s is my dog reactive towards other dogs only on leash?

This a a very common problem, especially in big cities.  The outcome is usually your dog barking, lunging or attacking other dogs or humans when they are on leash. Sometimes dogs can redirect and bite it’s own handler when this happens. 

Most of the times very social dogs want to meet other dogs while they are walking on the leash. They have friendly intentions and they just want to say hi to other dogs. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Maybe the other dog has kennel cough, or doesn’t have the vaccines yet,or is an aggressive dog, or the owner just doesn’t want to stop. Maybe your is dog too crazy and the other dog or person doesn’t want to interact. 

When this happens dog parents tend to pull on the leash to keep their pup away from other dog/s out of respect.They restrain their dogs maintaining constant tension on the leash. When you do this consistently every day your dog slowly starts becoming more frustrated. You start noticing more excitement, some friendly barking, kind of wanting to say hi and you don’t think much of it.  Eventually this starts escalating and your dog start loosing it more and more. Suddenly one day your dog explodes and starts growling, lunging and showing teeth when he sees another dog. What started being friendly, it turned into frustration and ended up being aggression.

So what’s the difference between Leash Reactivity and leash Aggression?

The difference between leash reactivity and leash aggression it’s just a matter of intensity. Leash reactivity is just your dog pulling on the leash out of excitement trying to say hi to another dog. There could be barking, franticness and a lot of pulling, but your dog’s intentions are friendly. When you continue this behavior on leash your dog starts getting frustrated. Leash aggression is when that frustration starts penting up throughout time and it turns into aggression. At this point if you let your dog go it can turn to be a bite or a fight depending on the other dog’s response.  

Why does this happen?

This happens because the leash becomes the source of frustration and the leash pressure becomes the trigger. 

The problem here is never the dog. The problem is the human. There’s no leash without a human. So it’s either because of the constant tension on the leash provided by the human, or the human pulling or yanking at the wrong time with the leash. 

Leash aggression is always caused by the lack of leash communication skills between you and your pup. Wether you created the problem or you already adopted your pup with this problem, it was created by a human at some point.

Why is my dog biting me when he sees another dog?

This is called redirection. Some dogs with leash aggression when they are hold back and they don’t have an outlet of their aggression they redirect their frustration into whatever is closer to them. Sometimes is you, sometimes is another dog that is next to them and sometimes is another human. 

Do I need to use a prong collar or an electric collar to fix it?

No you don’t. You can, but there are different ways to solve this problem without having to use a prong collar, an e-collar or corrections. 

How do I know it’s leash aggression and not just aggression?

When your dog is social at doggy day care or can meet other dogs off leash, but is reactive only on leash, then it’s leash aggression. If your dog is always or sometimes aggressive with other dogs off leash, then it’s not leash aggression. Your dog needs to be socialized. Thats a different problem. Having said that, your dog can have both problems Leash aggression and poor socialization skills.

Will my dog grow out of it?

NO, if you don’t do anything about it, it will get worse.

Can you fix leash reactivity or leash aggression?

Yes! Absolutely. With proper training and good leash communication skills this can be fixed. Sometimes pretty fast without using corrections, prong collars or e collars. The first step is to make sure you can walk your dog with no tension on the leash on a regular basis.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023

How NOT To Enter A Dog Park With Your Dog 

How NOT To Enter A Dog Park With Your Dog 

Are Dog Parks Ok?

Dog parks or runs can be very beneficial for your dog if you know what you are doing. If you want to read more about dog parks click this link to learn more about it: Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

 I’ve heard numerous well known trainers talking badly about parks and not recommending going any near them. This is usually because they are not specialized in Family Dog Training. They are usually specialized in agility, high obedience training, dog sports or working dogs.

How NOT to enter a dog park?

More often than not, well intentioned dog parents and dog trainers enter the park by asking their dog to sit, then wait and 10 seconds later they release their dog. Some more advanced obedience dogs they do this even without the leash. Wether you do this on leash or off leash is not relevant.

So what’s wrong with this? Isn’t this advanced obedience training?

Yes, but this is the wrong place to do this. Why? Because when you do obedience training you’re penting up your dog’s drive with a “command” or “cue” and your dog is waiting for a release. By the time you release, all that pent up energy and anticipation is like a balloon under water. So you are basically sending a torpedo to the park. Which means that your dog is most likely in the wrong state of mind. In other words your dog is on high excitement, high-arousal, high-drive mode, high dopamine etc. This mindset might work very well for performance and obedience. The problem is that at this sate they can miss a lot of social cues from other dogs and people. They also loose awareness of their environment, since they are mainly focused on a task or on you. Your obedience training can actually make it worse.

 If you are a very good trainer, your dog might listen to you, but at some point your dog is either going to get into trouble or attract trouble. And this is why Dog Trainers hate parks, because obedience doesn’t work well in parks. What works is a controlled state of mind on your dog where your dog slowly develops great dog social skills.

An even worse way to enter a dog park is restraining your dog on a leash, while your dog is pulling like a maniac and then unclipping the leash. If obedience (cue and release) is sending a torpedo, doing this is sending a nuclear missile. It’s most likely not going to end up well. 

So how do you enter a Dog Park?

The best way to enter a dog park is by calming your dog down.  Your dog should be with no tension on the leash and in a calm state of mind. This doesn’t mean your dog cannot run or play with other dogs. What this means is that your dog is in a state of mind where he or she can pick up on dog social cues and adjust to every dog. 

The more they practice self control and awareness, they better coping skills they get. This has to do with behavioral dog training not with obedience or advanced obedience training. Family dog training is 90% of the time behavioral training (state of mind), while obedience or advanced training is Classical or Operant Conditioning Training which is based on consequence (reward or punishment)

 Best well behaved dogs I’ve met are not from dog trainers, They are from dog owners that tap into this intuitively. They are not highly trained dogs that attract attention on instagram. They are well behaved happy dogs that no one notices or cares because they are just doing their thing. You will find most of this dogs in dog parks not on instagram accounts. 

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023

What Is “Extinction” In Dog Training?

What Is “Extinction” In Dog Training?

What is Extinction In Dog Training?

Extinction in dog training refers to the process of discontinuing a certain behavior by removing the reward or reinforcement that the dog receives for that behavior. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as by ignoring the behavior or by providing an incompatible behavior. 

What’s an example of extinction?

For example, if a dog barks excessively, the owner may choose to ignore the barking behavior instead of giving the dog attention or treats. This will eventually lead to the dog barking less, as the behavior is no longer reinforced by the owner’s attention. Similarly, if a dog jumps on people, the owner may teach the dog to sit instead of jump, and reward the dog when it sits. This will lead to the dog jumping less, as the behavior is no longer reinforced by the owner’s attention.

Another example is when a dog is barking for food, the owner may choose to not feed the dog until it stops barking. This will eventually lead to the dog barking less, as the behavior is no longer reinforced by the food.

Does it work?

Not always, but It’s important to note that extinction can be a slow process and it may take time for the dog to understand that the behavior is no longer being reinforced. Additionally, during the extinction process, the behavior may temporarily increase before it decreases, a phenomenon known as the “extinction burst.”

What’s the science behind extinction in dog Training?

In dog training, extinction refers to the process of decreasing or stopping a behavior by no longer reinforcing it. The science behind extinction in dog training is based on the principle of operant conditioning, which states that behaviors can be increased or decreased based on their consequences (rewards or punishments). When a behavior is no longer reinforced, it will eventually decrease in frequency and may eventually stop altogether, this is known as the extinction of a behavior.

What you need to know

Extinction is a tool in dog training, allowing owners to discontinue unwanted behaviors by removing the rewards or reinforcements that the dog receives for that behavior. One of the most important key takeaways is to be more mindful about what behaviors you’re reinforcing and rewarding without being aware of. Ex: a  lot of dog parents give a lot of affection and love when their dogs jump on them. Most of the time they are not even aware of it. Affection, love and engagement are all reinforces that are encouraging that behavior. Then they complain about their dogs jumping on them or on guests. 

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023

3 Mistakes That Will Lead To Leash Reactivity or Leash Aggression

3 Mistakes That Will Lead To Leash Reactivity or Leash Aggression

“Heeling” is different than Leash communication skills

It’s a very common mistake to think that if you teach your dog to “heel” your dog won’t have leash-reactivity or leash-aggression. This is not true.

For over 10 years I’ve trained hundreds of dogs with leash reactivity or leash aggression. Many of them had perfect “heeling” skills. How’s that possible? True “heeling” skills are off-leash skills and even if you use a leash for safety the whole purpose of “heeling” is to teach your dog to be next to you at all times without using the leash. So where’s the problem then? The problem is exactly that, that you never learn how to communicate effectively with the leash in a gentle manner. 

On top of this, If you live in a big city asking your dog to “heel” all the time not only is unrealistic, but is not healthy. Dogs should be able to walk calmly on leash with no tension experiencing their environment and without having to be on heeling position. 

Leash reactivity/aggression is always created by humans:

It takes one or two mistake on your part when you use the leash the wrong way for your dog to start developing leash reactivity. 

Here’s an example of what usually happens: You are training your dog heeling position in a calm environment with very little distractions and all of a sudden something out of the ordinary shows up. It could be a truck, a wild animal, a loud noise. Your dog starts loosing it and now you start puling on the leash to keep your dog safe. If you don’t have good leash communication skills chances are you’re going to make one of this 3 mistakes mistakes. 

At this point things can turn south pretty fast, even if your dog keeps improving on “heeling”.

3 mistakes that will create leash reactivity or leash aggression:

  1. Maintaining tension on the leash. If you keep restraining your dog without knowing how to release tension on the leash, your dog is going to get more umped up and more reactive. You need to teach your dog not to lean into pressure. Most importantly you need to train yourself how to do this. Rule #1 on leash skills is to communicate with tension-release. You always reward the release and reward for pulling. 
  2. Pulling backwards. The most common reaction when a dog is pulling is to pull  directly backwards. When you do this what you’re going to get is opposite resistance. Which means that your dog will pull harder and will probably get to stand in two legs. At this point you’ve lost your dog. This is a red flag that your doing it wrong. If you need to pull, always pull to the side, never pull backwards. 
  3. Using corrections and yanking your dog as a punishment for bad behavior after the fact. If your dog is already pulling and going crazy, this is only going to make things worse. True behavior modification is never achieved by correcting behavior after the fact with punishment. Suppressing behavior or emotional responses from your dog is going to lead to other problems. It’s also not the best way to build a solid relationship. Behavior modification is not about correcting behavior, is about not letting behavior to happen in first place.

When using the leash make sure you avoid  the above mentioned mistakes. 

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2022

How Much Breed Affects Your Dog? What Do You Need To know?

How Much Breed Affects Your Dog? What Do You Need To know?

Breed is an important trade that comes with your dog.

Why is breed so important?

Breeds were created and developed by humans for dogs to perform a specific activity or a job. 

One of the traits humans favored in most breeds is High-Drive and High-intensity performance. 

Working type dogs or hunting breeds are more prone to have more intense and challenging behaviors, which will require more skills on your part to tame them.

You don’t want your border collie herding cars, bikes, kids or squirrels in your city or town. You don’t want your Pitbull or any bully breeds putting up fights with other dogs. You don’t want your husky pulling you as if you were a sled. You don’t want your bulldog biting and not letting go. Or your terrier going on “tracking mode” looking for rats or who knows what. The list goes on 

Having said that, It’s perfectly possible to succesfully have any breed as a family dog. No matter what breed you have to ask yourself a much more important question:

Do you want a family dog or a working dog?

If your answer is I want a family dog keep reading.

90% of the problems people have with family dogs have to do with skills related to calming your dog down not teaching your dogs on high-performance obedience and commands.

Most family dogs need to learn calm activities like going for a walk, greeting without jumping, playing off leash without getting in trouble, not destroying your backyard or furniture, no to bark excessively, not to pull on leash, laying down calmly in your house, social skills and things like that. 

The first thing you want to do with a family dog is to “tame” the breed. Unless you want to win tournaments on agility or dog sports, you don’t want to encourage high-drive skills on your dog. Especially working type breeds. 

#1 Mistake when training any breed as family dogs

A family dog, no matter what breed, should be trained to be a family dog not a working dog. This means more self control skills and more socialization with both humans and dogs. 

A very common mistake is to encourage dog’s breeds with the thinking that they need to“fulfill” their breed needs. Breed was created by humans not by nature. It was meant to fulfill humans needs not Dog’s needs. so they have nothing to fulfill.

Another common mistake is to train a family dog on high intensity mode (“boot camp”)  for a month or two thinking that once they are trained they are going to relax in your house. 

This is like training a Navy seal on intense skills and once you’re done with the training asking to watch seven hours a day of TV. If you do that expect the Navy SEAL to go insane and destroy your house.

The more you fulfill their breed needs the more problems you’ll have and the more you’ll have to micromanage. 

The one skill that no one teaches 

Family dogs need to acquire the skill to do nothing. Yes you heard right, doing nothing is a skill and a very important one that comes with nature not with the breed.  Did you know that Lions sleep 18 hours a day! Yes you heard right and that’s a high-Drive type animal. Don’t get me started with cows.

I come from the mountains where dogs are outside off-leash all the time. Their backyard is the mountains and guess what they do most of the time? They’re laying down doing nothing. They are not depressed ant they do not need to be entertained all the time with Netflix. Calm energy is still energy and a very powerful one. Contemplation is not boredom and relaxation is the cure to anxiety. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do activities and have fun with your dog. You should. What I’m saying is that your dog should have the skill to do nothing and you should too. Doing nothing is a skill that comes with nature. Most humans not only lost this skill,  but even worse they project the lack of it it on their dogs.

Concluson.

No matter what breed you have, you need to have clarity on what kind of training and what kind of skills you want your dog to have. Training a family dog is a very specific way of training that is often overlooked or misunderstood.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2022

Why Does My Puppy Has The “Zoomies”? Or The “Witch” Hours?

Why Does My Puppy Has The “Zoomies”? Or The “Witch” Hours?

The “Zoomies” is when a puppy hits a time during the day or night and starts running around back and forth like a possessed maniac. 

This is a common puppy behavior. It usually starts as an expression of play and joy. Most often than not, it turns out to be an outlet of pent-up energy that ends up in a completely out of control behavior.

So why do they have the “out of control” “Zoomies”? Should you exercise more your puppy? 

Restless and “out of control” behavior is caused because of the lack of sleep and structure, not because of the lack of exercise. 

It’s a very common mistake to think that unruly behavior, restlessness or the “Zoomies” is because your puppy needs more exercise. As a matter of fact puppies do not need a lot of exercise, but they do need a lot of sleep and structure, just like babies. 

Have in mind that puppies, like babies, are growing and developing. This takes a lot of energy out of them and that’s why they need a lot of sleep and rest. 

Should I let him have the Zoomies? – “He really turns into a little devil.”

Leaving your puppy have the zoomies unchecked can lead into injuries for both humans and puppies. It can also start unwanted behaviors that will carry on as an adult dogs. Examples of these are overexcitement, unruly behavior, excessive barking, anxiety, not listening and sometimes even aggression. 

There are two key elements to manage the “zoomies”

  1. Having a consistent schedule and making sure your puppy gets all the sleep he needs. Having  a “safe area” such as a crate, an ex-pen, or some kind of confined area where they can sleep with no interruptions, is key in order for them to get the rest they need.
  1. Providing structure to a puppy with clarity. 

But what does structure mean? 

Structure means to provide guidance, boundaries and limits during their play time or activities. Just like their mothers do. 

Whats important to understand is that It’s not the endless play or exercise that’s going to tire your puppy out. Quite the opposite, this will make your puppy restless, feisty and cranky. Puppies when they play the reach a point where they start getting feisty and frustrated. They stop listening and they become relentless. This is a red flag. The more you continue this activity, play or exercise the more restless and unruly your puppy will become. 

On the other hand, providing structure by asking your puppy to play-stop- play; teaching your puppy to calm down in the middle of the play; and setting up clear boundaries in a calm and gentle manner will put your puppy at ease. This is precisely the meaning of structure. It’s usually the lack of clarity and consistency that creates anxiety and restlessness in your puppy. 

Try and put a bunch of kids that weren’t tought any boundaries and have no self-control in a basketball court with no rules. Then see what happens. It will not end up well. 

If there’s no rules, there’s no game. If there’s no game, there’s no fun. 

Providing plenty of sleep/down time and providing structure to your puppy, not only will diminish the amount of  “Zoomies”, but it will also keep the “Zoomies” at an intensity level where it’s just a healthy outlet of play and joy, instead of an unhealthy outlet for craziness and chaos. 

                             © Pawmos Dog Training LLC   |   All Rights Reserved  November 2022