For those who are on the journey of helping your reactive dogs, please remember that occasional regression is a normal part of the process! Behavior change is rarely (if ever) linear. Reactive dogs are no exception!
Instead of feeling defeated by your occasional off days, I urge you to DOCUMENT them! Reactive dog owners can really benefit by taking great notes about their dogs’ behavior. Here are some of the things I recommend that you jot down when your dog seems to have some regression in their training:
- Time of day
- Other environmental context
- Who was with the dog?
- What tools or treats were you using?
- What did your dog eat that day?
- Is your dog on any medications? If so, are you in the process of changing the dosage?
- Was your dog showing any signs of sickness or bodily sensitivity that day?
- Was there anything unusual about the schedule that day?
- Which trigger or triggers were involved?
- Was the number of triggers encountered any different from usual?
- How far from the trigger were you when your dog reacted?
- How were YOU feeling that day? Distracted, stressed, frustrated?
- Any other unusual events that may have increased your dog’s sensitivity?
Your trainer (and sometimes your veterinarian!) will be SO appreciative of these kinds of notes as they help you with your reactive dog. Often after documenting these factors, owners will notice a pattern and can better prevent the reactive episodes in the future!