Written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
When we say don’t sit your dog we say it because when we do that our dogs employ avoidance or instinct is to survive threats and forbear aggression.
This applies when we ask a dog to sit in the presence of a trigger and in turn this can reduce the sense of ability to stay safe, ensure you let your dog choose to stand whenever a trigger is present as this helps your dog feel safe.
We can desensitise to the triggers, but we first need to identify what the dogs specific trigger is and distance from the trigger the dog can get before they feel unsafe and out fo their comfort zone.
Once we have established the trigger we can then work on helping our dogs cope and ensure they feel safe and don’t employ avoidance or escape behaviours and display aggression.
There are many methods to ensure the trigger doesn’t promote a response and make our dogs feel safe by applying an appropriate behaviour modification plan. But by sitting the dog down in front of the trigger can cause immense stress and could make the trigger worse.
When working with Dogs we can break it down and begin to identify what is a trigger for a Dog. A bike, a car, another Dog or a human.
When we visually see these triggers we then have a duty of care to help the Dog. There are many skills which can be employed to help.
▪️We can build distance
▪️We can change direction
▪️We can cross the road
▪️Retreat down another path or a field
▪️We can move onto a verge and scatter feed
▪️We can talk to the Dog
▪️We can keep moving
Lots of humans are afraid of lots of things one common one is Spiders. If we forced a human to interact with a Spider or locked them in a room with a Spider this would be inhumane. Why do this to a Dog?
We can also employ these skills before seeing a trigger. Using quiet roads and fields.
✅Dog checks in, give a treat.
✅Dog looks on cue of their name, give a treat
✅Nice quiet area, scatter feed
✅Keep talking to the Dog
✅Take opportunity to do known cued behaviours such as weaving around bollards or going around a tree. A sit or a down when the Dog is relaxed.
✅If you've seen a trigger and built distance if the Dog disengages and chooses to sit then this is great but it isn't forced by us. If they choose to down then great. But we should never force them.
If a Dog feels forced into a scary situation of course they are going to react. By continuing to move the trigger is going to disappear alot faster and the stress of the trigger too.
If it is unavoidable to pass a trigger either cross the road or shout to the person to wait then when the road is free or traffic use the road to build your distance. Engage with the Dog and make them feel safe.
Don't wait and let them feel trapped and afraid by being forced to sit waiting for the trigger to push them over threshold in which they are set up to fail
Credit to Canine Expert for the image 🐾