Once again, a great piece of writing and advice from our friends at The Good Dog Training and Rehabilitation.
The Good Dog Tip: Too low, too slow.
I know this sounds a bit simplistic, but when it comes to dealing with reactivity issues in your dog, I see two super common issues with owners: they move too slow to correct, and when they do correct they’re often at too low of an intensity for it to be effective.
These two work hand in hand against you. The longer you wait to address the higher your correction intensity needs to be. And if you correct too low – even early – it will allow your dog to escalate and will end up working just like moving too slow.
Of course there’s always more we need to look at – using space effectively, staying calm, creating the right state of mind before you hit the sidewalk, and utilizing an entire approach of foundational training both in the house and outside are a few big ones. But in sessions with clients these two (being too low and too slow) are the ones I see most commonly that trip folks up.
The trick is to be more proactive, going after the very first, itsy-bitsy hint of the reaction, rather than waiting to see if your dog is going to escalate. (Yes, he is!) And when you do correct, make sure that you get a state change from your dog. This means you actually watch to see your dog’s state of mind (indicated by his body/ears/forward motion relaxing) rather than just correcting at a level you think is valuable. The level that is valuable for your dog (and the time with which you have to react) changes in every situation, depending on the environment, space you have, and the other dog or dogs behavior. The only one who knows what level is valuable (and who will show you through his reaction) in every situation is your dog, so watch him like a hawk when you correct.
If you can sort out the too low, too slow game you’ll be way ahead of the curve, and likely see tremendously different reactions in your dog.