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Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, A Novice With Moxie, Rodrigo, Petsmart

As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Cesar Millan.  I’ve taken some flack from others for my admiration, but I’m excited to know that I’m not alone in my admiration and I figure, to each their own.

I know that I said that I wouldn’t allow Cesar Millan train my dogs, but I have to admit to being at my wits end with Rodrigo, because for a few minutes, I actually considered getting a shock collar for our dog (but I know that I would be training him to fear, turning is reactivity to aggression).  Cesar Millan is a better option for us.

I saw a program where Cesar Millan was able to help a reactive dog and it was astounding.  I bet he can help us too.

Rodrigo is Leash Reactive

I used to say that Rodrigo was leash aggressive, but that’s not true.  He’s leash reactive.  When he’s on the leash, he’s super excited and happy and any sudden input (cyclist, jogger, another dog, skateboarder) can be too much.  Our biggest challenge is with cyclists.  All the other inputs can be handled, but the cyclists seems to trump most of my efforts to keep Rodrigo’s focus on me.

When a cyclists comes, I can feel Rodrigo getting excited, he’s keep his eye on the cyclist (either constantly looking back or with a laser like focus ahead).  As the cyclists gets closer, Rodrigo sits, crouches down, and then lunges at the cyclists while barking and growling.

If Rodrigo was loose, he would run up to the cyclist to introduce himself happily (he’s done this several times), but the cyclists don’t know this and it’s impossible to convince them otherwise when Rodrigo is showing them is “I’m a crazy dog!!!” face.

Frustration Doesn’t Help

I’ve had a tough time keeping my confidence and as time goes by (as in years), I got to a point that before we left the house, I was praying silently for no cyclists and I was getting tense thinking of what the walk would be like.

So every single walk was a carbon copy of the last unless J was with us.

I used to get snide comments and dirty looks from the cyclists (can’t much blame them).  Today, I don’t even notice, because I’m so focused on Rodrigo.

Time for a Change

I have to be able to walk our dogs without fearing Rodrigo’s behavior.  So the first thing I did was stopped sabotaging our walks with my negativity.  I left my iPod behind so that I could focus on the dogs and our walk.  And I spent my time observing Rodrigo’s behavior and analyzing what I could have done better or differently after one of Rodrigo’s “incidents.”

And I asked J for help.  Since he has such success walking Rodrigo, he sometimes joins us on walks and observes my behavior (yep, you read that right) and gives me feedback on what he observes.

The Tsch Sound

And last week I started incorporating our Tsch sound to keep Rodrigo’s focus and to express behavior that I want to see in Rodrigo and it’s made a great difference.  It doesn’t hurt or scare Rodrigo, but it does interrupt his focus and brings it back to me when others are on the trail.

It’s also helped to keep changing directions and this encourages Rigo to focus more on me than on what’s happening around us.


So what are your thoughts?  How can I prevent my reactive dog from reacting?

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