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Dear Cesar Millan | How Do I Prevent My Reactive Dog from Reacting?

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?


  1. As a huge advocate for positive reinforcement and clicker training, I would suggest playing the “Look at That” game with Rodrigo. The goal is to keep him at a distance where he is noticing, but not lunging/barking at the cyclists (and believe me, I know this can be a challenge). Decide on a cue such as “Watch Me” or “Focus”, and click/reward when he is able to turn his head/make eye contact with you while a cyclist is in view.

    This Patricia McConnell booklet explains the basics of leash reactivity training using positive reinforcement:

    • Thank you. I’ll download it today!

    • Feisty Fido is a terrific book! I still re-read it to this day.

    • My Hank acted as though he had never been on a leash when we adopted him when he was about 2. We got a harness for him and kept him on a short leash. When a car was coming, I would make him sit and say “car”…after a while he did it automatically.

      • Thanks, Dorothy. We do have the sit down for when a cyclists is coming, but they pass by too closely. I was thinking of doing the same on a trail where there is a great distance, because he doesn’t seem to care about cyclists then – he notices and gets excited, but no lunging or barking.

    • I haven’t had the best of luck with using a clicker on our walks with Rodrigo, because too often I clicked too late and rewarded the lunging, making it worst, which is why I chose the Tsch+touch. It seems to be helping me communicate what I want and he’s understanding. But it is slow going.

  2. I cannot recommend enough the idea of contacting a professional behaviourist or trainer who specializes in positive reinforcement. My dog had/has a whole host of issues and our trainer changed our lives for the better and gave me the confident and knowledge to manage and work with her as a team. The bond between you and Rodrigo will be so crucial to your work together and, in my opinion, shock collars, only serve to divide rather than help you become partners.

    I can recommend a zillion sources of information but Sophia Yin, like McConnell above, has some fantastic foundation tips:

    Good luck! I know you and Rodrigo can overcome this but there are no easy fixes. I am so glad and proud of you for reaching out.

  3. I 100% agree with Lara Elizabeth. I am a huge believer in positive reinforcement and clicker training; that is the ONLY type of training I will do with my dogs.

    Buster can be reactive to larger dogs (especially white larger dogs after being attacked by a Yellow Lab). You already know what triggers Rodrigo’s reactivity, which is great, so you are halfway there! Also realizing that he is feeding off of your energy is a huge step. When cyclists are in the area when you are walking him, make sure to remain calm.

    I think a “Watch me!” command is perfect. When you see a cyclist, have him “Watch me!” that way you remain calm because he is watching you, and he just sits and happily watches you while associating getting treats and watching you with a cyclist in the area.

    Not only is his attention being redirected to you so you both can stay calm, but he’ll associate seeing a cyclist with watching you and getting treats. Eventually you’ll be able to be in the same vicinity without problems.

    This is my favorite book of all time (I’m actually ordering the paper copy today because I highlighted almost every line on my Kindle). She explains it sooo well and has explicit step-by-step directions for all different kinds of reactivity situations.

    This is another good one on the more general aspects of positive reinforcement

    Good luck!

  4. I second Lara Elizabeth’s, Kristine’s, and Alix’s advice. Clicking and treating is an amazing way to refocus your dog’s mind on you.

    My last dog Shadow had the same problem with other dogs on leash. She once dragged me out into the street in traffic to go after another dog (note: we did not have the problem if she was off leash but then she’d run for the hills).

    The hard thing for me was that Shadow was part hound. Even if there wasn’t another dog around, I couldn’t get her to pay attention to me because her nose shut off the rest of her brain.

    Clicking and treating in a quiet and calm atmosphere started rewiring her brain to pay attention to me. After time, her reactivity to other dogs was eliminated.

    I think Millan’s tsch noise works as an interrupter. But if Rodrigo is too stimulated by or focused on a bike he won’t hear it. And he’ll just be learning to ignore you.

    That’s why using behavioral science is so powerful. It really works. It is also the most effective depression treatment, showing its power even in working for humans.

    • It may be just our own experience, but I’ve found the Tsch+touch to be very helpful. When someone visits and all four of our dogs are barking excitedly, the sound and the gentle touch combined gets their focus back on me. I don’t have to add a command – they pick up from my energy that I want quiet – it blows me away that it works.

      What I’ve found with the clicker is that everything escalates so quickly that half the time I’m clicking on unwanted behavior and through the excitement of it all, Rodrigo rarely notices the clicker. But he notices the touch.

      I’ve just started using it, so we’ll see how it goes.

      • I’m with you. I love positive reinforcement and clickers are great, but I get the best results when I give a little “hey” sounds or snap my fingers to get my dog’s attention. Then I praise him for the right behavior.

        I also love the “watch me!” game/command on walks. As others have suggested, that would probably work for Rodrigo combined with the sound you are using.

  5. Agree with previous commenters about how to train with leash reactivity! Pyrrha is our leash reactive dog, and we’ve taken a class on reactivity that was extremely helpful to us. My first post on that is here:

    Essentially, reactivity is a really difficult issue with a very, very slow solution. It may take months to even see a small improvement. We’ve been following a classical conditioning (think Pavlov) protocol with Pyrrha on every walk, and I think it’s gradually helping her to create new neurological associations with her fear (other dogs on leash). The presence of another confident non-reactive dog (our puppy Eden) has also been calming to her.

    I’m not sure that Cesar’s “tsch” noise would be helpful in a reactivity situation. Rather, I think it could actually serve to make the dog more anxious. The “tsch” noise doesn’t teach the dog anything; it just generates a startle reflex, so the dog isn’t actually learning anything from that interruption — and it could actually be doing more harm than good by amping up his anxiety.

    Good luck with Rodrigo! I look forward to reading more about this. Know you’re not alone! There are so many dogs who are reactive, and I’ve been thankful for the great community of bloggers who are writing about this difficult issue.

    • Thanks for sharing the post. I’ll check it out!

  6. Sounds like my Maya except her leash reaction and excitement is with other dogs. I’m amazed at how the tsch works for Rodrigo. It doesn’t work with Maya in that situation. She doesn’t hear, see, or notice anything other than that other dog. Changing directions is the only thing that’s helped so far. But this merely avoids the situation, it doesn’t help change her behavior. The clicker training the girls above are talking about sound helpful. But I’d have to teach myself to use the clicker just as much as I’d have to teach them. I train with positive reinforcement but am not at all used to using a clicker. Have you ever used click training?

    • I have used clicker training, but it’s not effective for me on walks, because I feel like I’m balancing too many things. I really like the Tsch + touch method with our dogs, because I use it all the time, both at home and outside the home and they’re familiar with it. It lets them know clearly that a behavior is unwanted and they stop.

      When it comes to using it while on a walk, it’s soo important to get Rodrigo at the right moment and that’s what’s tough on sunny days, but I’m getting better at it.

    • Dawn, I have the same problem with Beamer. He reacts to dogs. He just wants to greet and play so much he will bark/growl really high and lunge. I don’t think the dogs even know if he’s being friendly or not, let alone their owners. Once he focuses on the dog not even bacon touching his nose gets his attention away.

      You are right about learning the clicker yourself along with the dog. I am always forgetting to click or even bring it along.

      It’s gonna be a long process…

      • Oh, it is so embarrassing when Maya reacts. She barks because she is so happy, but it is a really mean-sounding bark. With her lunging and barking, I can tell some people think I’m struggling to control a vicious dog. Luckily, many are aware of Labrador personalities and realize she is only happy, but not everyone. BTW Julie, I got your email and responded. Thanks :0)

  7. +1 for Feisty Fido!

    My Jarly (100+ lb shepherd/mastiff/lab mix) developed TERRIBLE leash reactivity – I’d also suggest that you find a good positive trainer – I found a facility that offered a 6-week Feisty Fido class – class was limited to 5 dogs, and it was intense.

    A year and a half ago, I couldn’t have him in the same room – heck, even in SIGHT of another dog, and forget about bicycles, school buses, garbage trucks, UPS guy . . . you get the idea.

    Now, while he’s not “cured”, I’ve had him successfully complete two off-leash obedience classes (one that was accidentally overbooked and, instead of the 8 dogs it was supposed to have, there were 15 dogs!), we have playtime with the other dogs after our current class, he’s been approached by strange, off-leash dogs on our walks, and we’re even seeing some success with mat training when the UPS truck makes a stop in front of our house.

    Definitely do your homework and find someone with experience to work with – it’s so worth it!

  8. My official disillusionment with Cesar Millan came when I tried to use what I saw on his show to get Isis to walk past bicycles without barking and lunging. I bumped her with my leg and tried to keep walking as the bicycle went by and she redirected her bark/bite on my thigh, leaving a huge bruise.

    When I hired a positive reinforcement trainer, she told me I had to stop before I could go. If I couldn’t walk Isis without her barking and lunging at something, I should stop walking her.

    What??? The number one lesson from The Dog Whisperer was to walk walk walk her as much as possible. Walking a dog was supposed to cure everything!

    But no, I learned how to use a clicker, a Halti and a harness, and rewarded Isis for looking calmly at a bicycle as far away as she needed to be without barking and lunging. I see in your other post that you worked with Shannon Finch. She’s wonderful! Her method works!

    • Due to the cold weather, the dark evenings, time constraints and doggie house-guests, Ruby has not been getting as many walks lately and you know what? She is fine! We play more in the house, but if I’ve seen any change in behavior she seems a little more calm. I stopped forcing myself to take her on long, stressful walks every day and we are both happier for it.

    • I’m not graceful enough to use my feet and hands so I’ve never tried the maneuver I used to see with Cesar Millan. But I have found the Tsch+touch to be helpful – I saw it on his program, but I learned how to effectively use it from our trainer. It’s been effective is so many ways with our dogs and I’ve seen Rodrigo pick up on it on our walks. I’m hoping that by the time the warmer weather rolls around, we’ll have a new system that we can both count on.

  9. Mmmm…clicker training is most definitely a new thing for me (yes, for the Puppy Training Classroom) and I think it’s about time that changes. I get the idea that it’s primarily to distract the dog in training’s immediate focus from one thing to what he needs to be focusing on, but I’ll dig into detail…

    Very interesting, and I’m most definitely grabbing my copy of Feisty Fido when I lift my paws up from here… Thanks for the suggestion!

    Good luck with Rido’s reactivity, Kimberly!

    • Did you mean to say that the clicker is to distract the dog, or were you referring to the “tsch” sound? The intended purpose of the clicker is not to distract the dog, it is meant as a bridge between the desired behavior and the reward, and as a promise to the dog that “you did well and you are getting a treat.” It creates a consistent, positive association.

      • Actually I did refer to the clicker but I thought it served the same purpose as the “tsh” sound…

        Thanks for clearing that up! I’ll definitely do some more digging to grasp this concept in further detail. Sounds like the perfect topic to cover in an article for me 😉

  10. Oh, my buddy Rodrigo takes to cyclists like I take to other dogs on a walk! We have started training the “Look!” command, where I have to look at Ma. We do it even in the house, so it will become just another thing I do. We use it on walks, before I reach my threshold (proximity to other dog), and then we use it as we pass by the other dog. We are at a 50-50 success rate however that is WAY better than where we started. We are also using Dr. Sophia Yin’s foundation training where we walk and then turn 90 degrees, etc…so I have to pay attention to Ma.

    We are all about positive training like you. I think we all have to find what works best for each of us, but it is so great to be able to share tips and ideas! I am now interested in that Feisty Fido book…I had never heard of it.

    Thanks for sharing this post on our WOOF group page, Kimberly!

  11. I have used Tsch -touch, but find with Jack and Maggie, the clicker works better. I think different dogs respond to different stimuli. I will tell you my sister who has a high strung weimie uses a shock collar. They hunt with the dog and it’s part of the hunt training. I get why they use it and now it’s to the point where they don’t even have to shock her, just the collar being on creates better behavior. I don’t think it hurts that much – it is more of an attention getting thing – no more then the little poke you give with the tsch – touch. But having said that, I’d never use one on my dogs…

  12. Scooby Doo our chihuahua is bike reactive. Before we adopted him he was the terror of the neighborhood. When he legally became ours , he became a legal liability. When we are on the trail, which is a bike trail,and a cyclist comes whizzing by he goes for it. Ma would leash him and take him to the trail at its busiest time for bikes and watch how he reacted with each one that went past. After about 20 minutes, ma started putting him into sit position and saying the word BIKE when they went past. This lasted a couple of days and each time ma would put him in sit and let the bike pass. Then it dawned on her that the fast moving bike to Scooby was prey. Then she decided to do something drastic. She made a homemade bike tether. She hooked Scooby up and started out riding slow. Everytime he tried to nip at her she would tell him NO. The next day they did it again except she went faster. He enjoyed running along the bike! She would do 3 or 4 blocks with him. Now when a bike passes him he has a low growl for them but his butt is wagging a mile a minute because he doesn’t fear the bike and enjoys it.

  13. This is great Kimberly – awesome that you’re finding what works for you. Each dog is so different but keeping the behavior from beginning is a great way to teach Rodrigo to start behaving differently. You can try a clicker or high value treat, even a focused turn right when you see that he’s going to react will make a difference for him.

    One thing I do have to say is that a recent study showed that prong/e-collars were not only the most effective at correcting unwanted behaviors but that they also caused the least amount of stress on the dog. Some people may wonder why – but I believe it’s because it’s the most natural communication to them. It’s non-emotional, it’s clear, it’s innately understood what it means. Some dogs are “soft,” meaning they cannot handle social pressure or correction – it’s commonly looked at as the dog being scared. It’s not. Can e-collars and prong collars hurt dogs? If used incorrectly, absolutely. When used correctly, they should do neither. Also, prong collars have a higher incidence of escalating aggression than e-collars. It’s very rarely seen with e-collars in the real world. Both are incredibly effective, communicate with a dog in a natural way – provided the handler is not emotional – and when used correctly do not hurt or scare dogs.

    I’m happy to discuss this with anyone interested in learning more, even if they’re not the tools for them. Good luck with Rodrigo!

    • Thank you! So what exactly is an e-collar?

      • An e-collar is a “nice” thing to call a shock collar.

        I read something recently about the effect of the anticipation of pain or discomfort in dogs, and can’t find it right at the moment, but this article talks about the same idea in humans and is what I loathe about e-collars.

        I could never bring myself to use one. I’ve touched an electric fence by accident before and while not exactly painful, it is a horribly unpleasant sensation.

      • Cesar has a collar that will give better control of dogs during walking or whenever – it has two horizontal sections instead of the one in most collars. This gives control of the neck at the top and bottom. It does not hurt the dog like an electronic collar. Worth looking at.
        Oh, I can’t use one of Cesar’s collars as my little fella is to small, so the Tsch is working well with him.

  14. Sounds like you’re on the right track. I have been watching Cesar for years. I love his “tsch” sound and it’s something that I have used since I got my first dog when I was 19. I definitely believe in using that sound, along with an assertive energy. It’s all trial and error – my foster Sophie was a very reactive dog and I just had to be firm with her, and let her know I was in charge, while refocusing her energy. It takes a lot of time and patience – keep up the good work!

  15. My bias: I am not a fan of Cesar (I was before we had a dog, and then realized the error of my ways – if you want a great dog training show to watch, check out Dogtown!).

    I have a leash reactive dog and an anxious about everything dog! We only use positive reinforcement, and use clicker training principles (my husband is a psychologist and agrees that this is really the only method that makes sense, it’s science!). I agree that I’m not coordinated to bring the clicker on walks, with our second dog we actually have a word we use instead of a click (“yes” or “good” are popular choices), which I don’t think works as well as the click (I can’t be as fast!) but it’s more portable. We use the “touch” or “watch” commands that have been clicker trained in other situations, to distract our reactive dog on walks. The key is to start redirecting his attention before he gets super amped up over the approaching dog, if I am too late it won’t work. I can have him touch my hand or look at me to redirect him and have tasty treats on hand and if I do a good enough job with my timing we can walk nicely past a dog. With our anxious dog I’m trying to teach her to look at another dog and then get a treat from me. We also had to experiment with treats with her because the world is so scary for her she needs a really exciting treat to make it worthwhile, so she gets peanutbutter on a spoon!

    Good luck! Our biggest downfall is we get lazy and just want to do the walk and will put up with things we shouldn’t. Now that we have our puppy we are actually trying to go back to square one with our older dog because she was learning bad habits and it’s exhausting, I wish we had stuck with it better before!

  16. I find it interesting that so far a fair amount of comments to this post point towards positive training. Sort of indicates that group of your very engaged readers that care deeply for the subject of training have mostly landed on the consensus that positive training is the way to go.

    Do I use positive training? Yes, I do. 😉

    • It’s very encouraging to see more and more people opting for positive methods. I do believe that training both on a personal and broad scale is a process of evolution.

  17. Well, I’m a great believer in the BAT type of training. The one problem with that is that one needs to set stuff up, which means an area one can control and at least one volunteer.

  18. After reading through all the comments….if making the tsh sound and touch gets his attention, even for a moment, then use it. I LOVE clicker training and use it all the time with my dogs to teach new behaviors and refresh previously taught ones. With that said, I don’t take it on walks or carry it around…just for the fact that I feel like I can’t get it at the right time. Using the clicker to reward a quiet behavior is a lot harder than using it to reward a command or action. Biddy will sometimes do this when we are on a walk especially at the park…..she will pull up and stop, hair up, refusing to move forward. Usually something is new or surprised her. I use my voice, touch on her ears and try to keep moving rather than stop…this helps me get separation faster. Then in use a lot of verbal praise and occasionally treats. Remember…this behavior did not suddenly come about, it developed over time. You are most likely not going to fix it in a week or two. Practice practice practice…listen to yourself….you said when J is with you he doesn’t do it as much….your dog is sensing your anxiety…just keep working at it is my best advice. Your dog needs to know from you what to expect and you have to be consistent with it. Dogs don’t take 6 week classes and get better, they get better because humans practice with them and they have a chance to learn or change a behavior….even the slightest improvement should be rewarded and celebrated….and just give it time and practice….and confidence. (Easier said than done, i know)

    • Thank you, Kathryn – you said it perfectly when you shared that it’s harder to reward quiet. That’s where I have trouble with using the clicker on walks. But I can let him know what I need with a sound and touch, a slight tug of the leash, and a firm yet calm “nope.”

      We just need to get the practice in.

      What’s funny is that I used to LOVE days like this week – rainy, cold. It meant no cyclists on the trail, we could go for a peaceful walk. Now I’m frustrated, because it’s another day that we don’t get to practice. I can at least work on my own energy that I’m adding to the situation.

      Thank you.

  19. Hi! I’m a fan of Cesar, and I’ve met him twice. He is a very kind human being, such a gentleman. He really gets a bad rap. I did want to point out, that he is NOT a dog trainer. He gets the dog after the humans have already “tried everything”. He rehabilitates super-aggressive or otherwise behaviorially-challenged, “powerful” dogs, and in most cases he trains the human dog owner how to handle the powerful dog. In rare cases, he suggests that the dog stays with him permanently, and he will even let the family adopt one of his more docile dogs, sort of like a dog-swap type of thing.

    Cesar isn’t doing dog “training”. People talk about using clickers and treats, positive training, etc. and he TOTALLY advocates that and agrees with it!! What he specializes in is something different than that. It is for dogs for whom all hope has been given up and the family is ready to throw in the towel and give up on the dog.

    Like I said, I have met him twice, and he is really a great person. I was supposed to meet him a 3rd time next week at his show in Connecticut, (I bought “Meet and Greet” tickets again) but the show has been postponed until next fall.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this, Kathy – I’m such a huge huge fan of his. I secretly hope he reads this post and gives me some tips.

      • Hi Kimberly, the Tsch sound works because it is mildly aversive. It is similar to the sound made by compressed air escaping, which many dogs don’t like. There are theories as to why this should be the case, some animals make this noise as a warning for example. If you want to train with aversives then that won’t be a problem for you.

        However, many people nowadays want to train without aversives, and the clicker is a great event marker to enable this. It’s only power lies in its association with a reward. If you find the clicker difficult, that’s because it takes a little practice. It really is worth persisting though. :) Pippa

        • Thank you, Pippa

          I’ll have to look into that, because I’ve never heard that the Tsch sound is seen as negative or adversive dog training. I feel uncomfortable with the idea that this is what I’m doing with our dogs, because they’re loved and I have always been a proponent of positive based dog training. Our dogs don’t fear us or shy away from us when we use this, which I would expect. Yep, this needs more homework.

          Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

          • Loud or sudden noises scare Ruby – when I watch her body language it’s just undeniable. Not every dog is this way. I’ve even heard of dogs being frightened by the clicker! If I really need to interrupt something Ruby is doing, such as chewing on something dangerous or chasing the cat, I will clap loudly – it does alarm her and I really try to avoid it in most cases. The Relaxation Protocol have some tasks that involve clapping, and that has been helping to desensitize her to the sound.

  20. I saw the tweet, and thought oh no, someone I follow is a CM fan haha. OK, I’ll try to not bust your chops. I wanted to comment, because my young German Shepherd has far worse issues with this kind of trigger. Including skateboards, motorcycles, bikes, and kids even. I’m lucky that the person I got him from is a very good positive trainer, and helped me through this issue with some advice that I put to work. It’s changing the association of the trigger. First I marked with “yes!” the instant he noticed a trigger, that would then after cause him to whip his head to me, anticipating, and I would mark and reward with a ball on rope (his favorite reinforcer, food he wont’ take if over aroused) and tugging. Did that for awhile, then started asking for sits, downs, other simple behaviors when he alerted on a trigger. He went from raving lunatic seeing a bike from blocks away, to now we can go down to a beach boardwalk, with all manner of bikes zooming by. It’s remarkable. It’s important to not let the unwanted behavior be rehearsed over and over. And to not put them in a situation where it’s going to put them over threshold. So I had to stick to around the house for awhile, and see just a few bikes.

    What this is, is building upon reinforceable behaviors, and desensitizing the dog to the trigger while getting focus back on you. I’d urge you to get a wonderful book called Control Unleashed the Puppy Program. Leslie McDevitt. Lots of games and exercises in there to teach self control with arousal. I honestly and wholeheartedly believe this is a far superior route to Cesar’s “Way”. That won’t change how a dog feels, inside, towards these triggers. It’s merely addressing the behavior by having the dog stuff it down. It’s not TEACHING what you want, it’s forcing them to act on the outside how you want, if that makes sense. I also look at it from a dog’s point of view. They see this trigger that gets them so excited they can’t think, then their human uses negative words, possibly physical corrections, and it’s going to add more stress to the situation. I think it erodes trust. Believe me, I felt at the end of my rope, and had moments of frustration. It didn’t help, it hindered. Now I feel our relationship has blossomed and it’s such a relief knowing I can deal with coming across these triggers that we see every day. The power of positive training!

    • Thank you! That makes perfect sense – thank you for taking the time you explain so clearly. I completely understand. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll download it tonight.

  21. yes, it’s been forever! Love to come back and see a post like this. What’s extra cool is when you begin to address this type of issue and start studying your dog’s cues and signals, you get the added benefit of learning even more about your dog! The observations gathered on your walks apply to daily life with your furry family member only furthering the improvement of your relationship!


    • What’s funny is that Rodrigo has improved so much and it took hardly any effort on our part. Every day, we sees bicycles on the Centennial Trail – he still gets excited, but he just watches them. Then returns to me to continue our game of fetch. He’s very smart. What I really love is that our puppies aren’t learning bad habits, because of my lack of training skills.


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