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

Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

Are Dog Parks a good idea?

In my opinion the answer is YES, but like with most things it comes with some trade offs and responsibilities. I disagree with trainers that discourage people from using dog parks instead of training people on how to use them.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of the park you need to consider 3 things: 

  1. To raise and to have a well behave dog
  2. To have a solid recall 
  3. To look out for aggressive dogs or owners that are not paying attention to avoid trouble. 

What are the benefits?

Dog Parks or dog Runs are a great opportunity to let your dog off leash, socialize with other dogs and run for a bit if that’s what they need. Dogs usually love going to open outdoor spaces for a change and be around their own peers.

 If you live in a city, It’s also a great opportunity to be outdoors and get some fresh air. A lot of dog parks  are also beautiful. If you love nature it’s a great way to re-connect or disconnect from our daily routines. 

I truly believe that the benefits of Dog Parks and Dog Runs outweighs the drawbacks by far. In many cities and towns it’s a privilege to have spaces for dogs where they can socialize and run safely off leash. We should keep advocating for dogs with this kind of wins. 

I also think that is been a huge win from the dog community efforts. We should embrace it not criticize it. 

Why do dog parks have a bad rep?

I’ve  heard a lot of trainers and read many blogs not recommending Dog Parks because it’s going to ruin your dog’s training. I personally don’t make decisions out of fear. I think you’re much better off giving exposure and teaching coping skills to your dog than avoiding and making their world smaller out of fear. 

The other argument against dog runs is that things can happen in parks. Although this is true,  crime also happen in cities or towns. That doesn’t mean we need to run to the hills and live in the mountains out of fear. 

Why some dog trainers hate Parks?

This is usually because they are not specialized in Behavior or Family Dog Training. They try to impose their obedience training routines to their dog in the park. They get frustrated because other dogs jeopardize their training. This is fundamentally the wrong place to do this.

Most trainers do obedience training by putting their dogs on high arousal, high dopamine or high motivation mode. This dogs are usually focused on a task and/or on the trainer not on the other dogs. This tasks are usually commands like: “wait” (pent up energy) and release : “get it”(release of the pent up energy). Basically you’re putting your dog in the wrong state of mind and with a tunnel vision focused on you not on the environment around them. This can cause several potential problems: 

1 Your dog will miss social cues from other dogs. 

2.Your dog will get frustrated with other dogs for getting in the way of his obedience. 

3. If your dog is highly trained to the level of ignoring distractions, then other dogs will get frustrated with your dog for ignoring them. 

So, what kind of training should I do in dog parks?

A park is where you should focus your training first on behavior and social skills not on obedience. Social skills, self control and boundaries is what’s  going to give true freedom to your dog. When your dog has good social skills you’ll be able to let your dog off leash out of trust not out of your ability to micromanage every step out of the way.  

What’s the real issue?

The big gap between a well behaved dog and a dog with advanced obedience skills is greatly misunderstood. Behavior skills are based on self control. Obedience skllls are based on impulse control and high arousal training (high dopamine). A lot of dog trainers are confusing people with this, because they don’t know what they don’t know.

If you keep putting your dog on high drive obedience training in a dog park at some point your dog is going to get into trouble or attract trouble. This can feel very good and empowering for the human, but it’s not giving the dog the opportunity to cope and learn how to behave in the environment they’re in. This is basically the difference between behavioral training and obedience training.  Behavior Training is focused on the state of mind of your dog not on high performance. I’m not saying you should not do any obedience training in the park, but the main focus should be on behavioral training not on obedience training.  

In conclusion

I’ve been going for over 15 years to dog parks in different countries and it’s been a great source of joy and happiness for me and for my dogs. My dog’s training have not been ruined by other dogs. As a matter of fact its’ a great place to practice advanced ‘Recall’, dog socialization and build self confidence if you put some effort into it. 

I have hundreds of case studies where Dog parks and dog runs had helped dogs in many different ways.

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

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

What’s The Science Behind Dog Training? Part 2

What’s The Science Behind Dog Training? Part 2

Operant Conditioning 

Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which an individual’s behavior is modified by the consequences that follow it. The behavior itself is referred to as the operant, and the consequences that follow it are either reinforcing or punishing. Reinforcing consequences increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated in the future, while punishing consequences decrease the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated.

Operant Conditioning With Dogs 

Operant conditioning is a type of learning in which a dog learns to associate a particular behavior with a particular consequence. In the case of dogs, operant conditioning can be used to teach the animal to perform a specific behavior in response to a particular stimulus, such as a command from its owner.

This method of learning employs rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence (whether negative or positive) for that behavior.“If you do this : “sit”, you get this: “reward” or if you do this : ¨unwanted behavior¨ you get this: ¨punishment¨.

How does it happen with dogs?

One of the most famous examples of operant conditioning in dogs is the “sit” command. When the dog sits on command, it is typically rewarded with a treat or praise from its owner. Over time, the dog learns that sitting on command is a behavior that is rewarded, and it will be more likely to perform the behavior in the future. This is called Positive Reinforcement, but there are three other ways or quadrants in operant conditioning:  Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, and Negative Punishment

Science can be confusing?

Let’s bring some clarity. Science works with definitions. There are four quadrants of operant conditioning: Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, and Negative Punishment. The scientific meaning of positive and negative are different of what you might think. Positive and negative in scientific terms has nothing to do with good or bad. Positive means you’re adding something and negative means you’re removing something. Reinforcement means you want to increase the likelihood of a behavior to be repeated and Punishment means you want to decrease he likelihood of a behavior not to be repeated. Let’s break it down:

  1. Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior is followed by a pleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is more likely to be repeated in the future. In other words you’re adding a factor (Positive) to increase the likelihood of a desired behavior (Reinforcement). For example, a dog who receives a tasty treat for coming to you when called is more likely to come to you in the future because the food is the adding factor that will increase the likelihood of your dog coming to you (the desired behavior).
  2. Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior results in the removal of an unpleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is more likely to be repeated in the future.  In other words you’re removing a factor (negative) to increase the likelihood of a desired behavior (Reinforcement). For example, when working with a dog that is scared of other dogs. When another dog is near by, you wait until the dog offers a particular behavior (such as looking to you before allowing the dog to move away. Here, the behavior of looking at you after seeing another dog is being reinforced by taking away the scary situation of being too close to another dog.
  3. Positive punishment occurs when a behavior is followed by an unpleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is less likely to be repeated in the future.  In other words you’re adding a factor (Positive) to decrease the likelihood of an undesired behavior (Punishment). For example, if a dog is “zapped” with an e-collar (adding factor, Positive) for attacking another dog, the behavior of attacking another dog is less likely to be repeated in the future because the shock is an unpleasant consequence (Punishment)
  4. Negative punishment occurs when a behavior results in the removal of a pleasant consequence, and as a result, the behavior is less likely to be repeated in the future. In other words you’re removing a factor to decrease the likelihood of an undesired behavior. For example, a dog jumps on you and you remove yourself turning your back and ignoring your dog (Removing factor, Negative). As a result, your dog will be less likely to jump on you because the result is the loss of your attention which will decrease the likelihood of the undesired behavior (Punishment). 

What you need to know.

It’s important to note that operant conditioning is based on consequence regardless wether the consequence is good, bad, pleasant or unpleasant. The effectiveness of the punishment and reinforcement depends on the intensity, consistency and timing of the outcome. Also, it’s important to consider the ethical implications of using punishment, since it could lead to negative effects on a dog’s emotional and physical well-being. 

I personally use Positive Reinforcement to train dogs on obedience and to teach them new behaviors. I use Classical Conditioning and  Behavioral Training based on Emotional States of mind to modify and eliminate unwanted behaviors. Behavioral Modification Training is based on emotional responses and States of Mind not on consequence to manipulate behavior. To learn more about B.M.T (Behavioral Modification Training) click here: 

Why is B.F Skinner important in dog training?

Burrhus Frederic Skinner is referred to as the Father of operant conditioning, and his work is frequently cited in connection with this topic. His books initiated his lifelong study of operant conditioning and its application to human and animal behavior.

Here are 3 of his key Principles:

  1. Behavior that is positively reinforced will reoccur; intermittent reinforcement is particularly effective
  2. Information should be presented in small amounts so that responses can be reinforced (“shaping”)
  3. Reinforcements will generalize across similar stimuli (“stimulus generalization”) producing secondary conditioning

Overall, Skinner’s work on operant conditioning has helped to bring clarity on the mechanisms of learning and behavior, and has had a lasting impact on the field of behavioral and social psychology. 

In conclusion

In conclusion, operant conditioning is a type of learning in which an individual’s behavior is modified by the consequences that follow it. There are four quadrants of operant conditioning: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. Overall, operant conditioning is a powerful tool for training dogs and other animals. By associating specific behaviors with rewards, trainers can help animals learn to perform a wide range of tasks and behaviors.

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

What’s The Science Behind Dog Training? Part 1  

What’s The Science Behind Dog Training? Part 1  

Classical Conditioning With Dogs

Classical conditioning is a type of learning that happens unconsciously. It occurs when an animal associates a particular stimulus with a response.. When you learn through classical conditioning, an automatic conditioned response (salivating) is paired with a specific stimulus (a “bell ring” followed by a tasty treat”) This type of learning is commonly observed in dogs and other animals.

How does it happen with dogs?

In classical conditioning, a dog learns to associate a particular stimulus, such as a ringing bell, with a response, such as salivating. This association is made through repeated experiences where the stimulus and response occur together. For example, a dog might learn to salivate when it hears a bell ringing if every time the bell rings, the dog is given food. Over time, the dog will begin to associate the ringing of the bell with the expectation of food, and will start salivating at the sound of the bell even if no food is given.

Science can be confusing?

Science works with definitions, so sometimes it can be confusing. But once you learn the definitions you can start putting the pieces together. Let’s deep in with some terms so we can break it down into first principles:

There are several key terms that are important to understand when discussing classical conditioning in dogs. The unconditioned stimulus is the stimulus that naturally creates a response, such as food causing a dog to salivate. The unconditioned response is the natural response to the unconditioned stimulus, such as salivating when food is present. The conditioned stimulus is the stimulus that is initially neutral but becomes associated with the unconditioned stimulus through repeated experiences, such as the bell ringing. The conditioned response is the response that is learned through classical conditioning, such as salivating at the sound of the bell.

What you need to know. 

Classical conditioning can be a powerful tool for training dogs, as it allows trainers to associate a desired behavior with a particular stimulus. For example, a trainer might use classical conditioning to teach a dog to come when a specific whistle is blown. By repeatedly blowing the whistle and giving the dog a treat every time he/she comes, the dog will learn to associate the sound of the whistle with the expectation of a treat and will eventually come automatically when it hears the whistle.

Who is Pavlov?

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who is best known for his work on classical conditioning.

In Pavlov’s famous experiment, he trained a dog to associate the sound of a bell with the presentation of food. Initially, the dog would salivate at the sight of the food. However, after being trained, the dog would begin to salivate at the sound of the bell alone, even in the absence of food.

Why is Pavlov important in dog training? 

Pavlov’s work on classical conditioning has had a profound impact on the field of psychology, and is still widely studied today. It is a fundamental concept in the study of behavior and learning, and has been used to explain a wide range of phenomena, from simple reflexive responses to complex cognitive processes.

One of the key features of classical conditioning is that the response is automatic and involuntary. In Pavlov’s experiment, the dog’s salivation in response to the bell was not something that the dog had to think about – it was a reflexive response that occurred automatically.

Another important feature of classical conditioning is that the response can be transferred to other stimuli that are similar to the original stimulus. In Pavlov’s experiment, the dog’s salivation in response to the bell was not limited to the specific bell that was used in the original experiment – the dog would also salivate in response to other bells that were similar in tone and pitch.

Overall, Pavlov’s work on classical conditioning has helped to shed light on the mechanisms of learning and behavior, and has had a lasting impact on the field of psychology.

In conclusion

Overall, classical conditioning is an important concept in the study of dog behavior and is a useful tool for trainers. It allows dogs to learn new associations and behaviors through repeated experiences and can be a powerful tool for shaping or modify a dog’s behavior.

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