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Here’s What They’re Saying
Bindi the Australian Shepherd
I have a reactive Australian Shepherd. Bindi used to loose her mind barking and lunging at guests inside my home and at everything and anyone when we would go for walks, car rides, groomer or vet appointments. Bindi used to run and and jump on new people and then get intimidated and start barking at them. It was really scary having people over because she was so unpredictable.
Before I enrolled her in Revive K9 training, Bindi already knew sit, down, go lay down, go outside, and go pee pee; but those were not enough to control her reactive behavior. We avoided taking her on walks and socialization with other people or dogs outside of our home for 5 years because we had no idea how to control her reactive behavior.
Revive K9 developed a training program specific to my dog’s goals and worked with me until Bindi and I had the skills to cope with her reactivity.
We worked with Catey and Maria and they taught Bindi the “place” command for inside the house when guests come over. They recommended we get her a raised dog bed and have it located in a central part of the house where she can still observe everyone and everything in the house. It’s a nice safe place for my dog to go when she is feeling overstimulated.
Her place is a safe spot where no one is going to mess with her. It gives her the time to calm down and get used to all the new energy in the room. She will even stay on her place and allow me to answer the door and greet house guests. It’s also nice to have her wait there and put her harness and prong collar on before we go for a walk.
We can also use “place” anywhere outside the home, like a park bench or spot on the ground. Bindi has to stay in place until the release command “free” is given. We use this same concept with fetch, and the toy being thrown is her reward (instead of a treat). Bindi really loves this option.
They also taught her how to “heel” on walks. We had the option to do a prong collar or an e-collar: the prong collar was enough for her to start to pick up on it, so we didn’t have to use the e-collar. Giving her a job to do has helped a lot with distractions (barking and lunging at other people walking their dogs, doing yard work, or children playing).
Over time, Bindi has learned that nothing bad is going to happen to her as long as she is with me or my husband. If she does start to bark, I make her sit in the uncomfortable and feel the energy until she understands that everything is okay and nothing is going to harm her, and then we resume our walk.
The group classes have also been really helpful so far. Bindi still has some work to do when it comes to socializing with other dogs, but I have a lot of faith that she will only get better. Bindi continues to surprise me every day with her ability to learn new things and overcome her negative behaviors.
One big thing that I learned during the whole process is that you not only have to train your dog, but you have to train yourself to know how to give the commands, how and when to reward positive behavior, how and when to correct negative behavior, and know which ones are appropriate to use in various situations. Dogs owners have a lot to learn throughout this process, but it is so worth it to be able to anticipate how to handle your dog in stressful or reactive situations.
Now, I can finally have guests over and go for walks and appointments without feeling embarrassed of my reactive dog. Bindi and I are still a work in progress, but now I am equipped with the skills and confident in myself and my dog to be able to handle all of the situations we have spent the last 5 years avoiding.
If you have a reactive dog, Catey and the whole Revive K9 crew can help. Hiring a behavior specialist was the best decision I ever made for my reactive dog.
- Tiffani and Bindi