It all starts with a little spark. A strike of a match and a tiny flame is born. So small but left to itself it can quickly spread far and wide and consume everything in it’s path. Do you remember Smokey the Bear’s famous saying “Only you can prevent forest fires!”? How exactly do you prevent forest fires? There are only two ways to preventing a fire. The first is don’t play with matches but the second is catching the spark before it turns into a fire because once you have a fire it grows faster than you can put it out.
It’s seems like it’s hard to walk your dog down the street these days without running into a reactive dog or having your dog react. Sometimes you see it coming and sometimes you don’t. There’s a dog coming toward you and the ears go up, your dog makes eye contact, the forehead wrinkles, the chest puffs out, and a little growl becomes a big dramatic freakout session full of lunging, leash pulling and aggressive barking in about 15 seconds. So many warning signs in such a short amount of time. Prevention is all in the timing, learning to read your dog and knowing the signs so you can recognize the first spark. The ears go up and the reactivity sparks! Catch it there. Correct at the first sign that your dog has any interest in the other dog whatsoever. The key to preventing reactivity is simply catching it early and not allowing it to escalate.
Most people would not know when I walk down the street that my dog personal dog is leash reactive yet she doesn’t react. Why? It’s because I catch her at first spark! Fires are not allowed on my walk. It’s a simple thing it just takes practice. Figure out what the signs are for your dog and work on your timing (remember you don’t have long before the escalation). Patience, practice and perseverance. 😉