When: 10/09/2019 1:00pm to 10/09/2019 2:30pm
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On our walk today, my dog Smudge got startled by a bicycle that appeared from behind us, only a few feet away. Smudge barked and lunged as the bicyclist sped past. This wasn’t my proudest moment but it was a great indication that I need to do more training. Smudge already has learned that a dog approaching us from the front or the side is a cue for him to bump my fist with his nose, which I immediately follow with a marker (“yes”) and a reinforcer (meatloaf). He used to respond to approaching dogs with emotionally-charged behaviors (e.g., barking lunging). Now, most times, he recognizes this context change as a reinforcement opportunity – a chance to receive food, play & praise. His attitude is more likely to be upbeat rather than upset. So my next step is to set aside time to extend the cue for his “replacement behavior” to include stealthy bicyclists. Please join me if you’d like to learn the steps necessary to teach your dog to reinterpret upsetting or arousing context changes as good news, a process known as DRI (differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior). After all, your “reactive” dog is already noticing the many sights, sounds and smells around him -- rather than hoping he’ll eventually ignore them, we can opt to use his sensitivity as a key component in the training.