Today I'm answering whats.that.rattle's question about what to do when your reactive dog reacts and the situation was entirely unavoidable.
First off, I want to say that we forgive ourselves, because we are human and it is not our job to read other people's energy or body language. We are allowed to be human beings who sometimes make mistakes.
Afterwards, we walk away from the situation as quickly as possible, even if it means walking away from our pets for a bit so they won't be exposed to any possible triggers. Also, give them some down time as they'll be more likely to react whilst there is still cortisol in their system.
📍 Welcome to Ask Ali with multi award-winning dog trainer, Ali Smith, answering real dog questions from real dog parents. What's that rattle asked in the chat? Suggestions for when a dog has a reactive episode out in public. And there's no easy escape Recently happened and I just stood still holding tight as the dog barked tips.
How did, how does dog and I recover? Unfortunately, sometimes that is the best you can do. And if there is genuinely no getting out of things and you have been like backed into a corner, in essence, make the best of it. Make sure a bite doesn't happen. Walk away and I do mean walk away in a literal sense.
I want you to leave the park . I want you to go home and I want you to go in for some good decompression activities because if you can help your dog come down because what's happened in that instance is not only has your dog proven themselves right with their reactivity, that, they should be reactive and the other dog was going to kill them and everything was gonna go wrong.
So what they did was the right thing and reinforced that to themselves. But their cortisol has spiked. So cor isol for anyone that doesn't know is a stress hormone essentially. And it's what happens when we when animals and humans get pushed into a fight or flight response. And it basically means that we will then be more aware of everything that's going on around us for the next.
However long it takes for that cortisol to come down. And cortisol can last for like up to a week if we allow it to. And every time that something comes along that stresses your dog out more, we'll bring that cortisol back up. So what I want you to do instead when you come home is focused on de-stressing activities.
You might be avoiding walks for a next day or two. You will probably be in an instance where. , you're gonna be focusing on licky mats, sniffing activities, chewing anything that's gonna help bring your dog down because yeah, they, at this point, they just need to relieve that stress. You might wanna book a secure field or play in your garden if you've got enough space to do but yeah avoiding for a couple of days is your best, your single best bet. And then when you re-approach, re-approach with a slightly larger bubble, To clarify here, I refer to a dog's threshold as a personal space bubble because I figure it, I find it helps with visualization purposes Everyone has a personal space bubble rate.
So like we all felt it really strongly during Covid when somebody came within that 10 foot that they weren't meant to come in. You went, oh, hold on, leave me alone. Don't wanna get infected. Same for your reactive dog, right? But they're not focusing on covid, they're focusing on threat. And what's happened will have expanded that bubble a bit.
And you are just gonna have to work it down again slowly with counter conditioning desensitization . Yeah. Causes all last a shockingly long time. It's. It's really sad, we've just gotta manage it once that happens. And if there's not a get, like if there's no escape, it's a case of just managing the after effects and then restarting.
Because unfortunately, training is never a linear journey. And please, the other thing, do not punish yourself for that because these things happen. That's life and you've done everything you can. Okay. I really hope that helps.
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