Three steps to Behavior Change

09/02/2022

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THREE STEPS TO BEHAVIOR CHANGE

Reactivity happens for a reason. It gives your dog something that they need in that moment.

Maybe their reactive behavior stopped a hand from touching them. Maybe it made another dog go away. Or maybe it kept a person from coming closer to them.

Sometimes, the reason for the behaviour is obvious and sometimes it’s not. But there is always a reason.

As you work towards changing your dog’s behavior, you need to understand what their reactive behaviour gives them and find an alternative way to meet that need. Is it space? Is it a sense of safety? How else can you give them that?

There are three fundamental steps to changing behaviour.

First, manage the environment as much as you can so your dog feels safe and can be successful. Sometimes you can prevent unwanted behaviour completely, simply by changing the environment so that your dog finds it easier to do what you’d like them to instead.

Second, learn to recognise changes in your dog’s body language that indicate they are getting stressed. You can then support or encourage them to do behaviors that are alternative to reacting.

Third, reinforce and always support your dog when they are successful. This will make sure the new behaviors are more desirable to your dog than overreacting. The more success they have, the more likely they will choose these behaviours in the future.

Remember to follow these three steps and you and your dog will be on the right track.

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