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Sensitive Souls - Transferable Skills

Our goal is to help each dog and owner team reach their full potential and for that reason our lessons are designed to teach transferable skills. Transferable skills are skills and abilities that help dogs manage in different areas of their lives. Skills for the dogs include:

  • Problem solving

  • Listening

  • Discrimination

  • Redirecting focus and attention

  • Proprioception

We like to build these skills via a variety of games and activities, that both dogs and owners enjoy. It is our experience that when dogs develop these skills, confidence increases and behaviours such as sound sensitivity or lead reactivity begin to decrease.

It is important to remember that training and behaviour modification is not designed to remove unhelpful behaviour responses completely. Under certain circumstances a previously learned response can always emerge. Rather, the practice and continual reinforcement of new behaviour and new response, means that you can call the new behaviour up or cue it. With more options available, dogs can even become creative and choose brand new, more helpful behavioural responses for themselves. The sentence above is in bold type because it is easy to forget that a previously learned response can always emerge. For example, you feel you are making great progress with your dog's lead walking behaviour, it has been weeks since he has barked at another dog, but then it happens again. You begin to doubt your new skills and even begin to doubt your dog, but all that has happened is that something in the situation, the circumstances, cued your dog's old behaviour of barking. If this happens to you, take some time to consider all the factors that may have triggered the old behaviour such as:

  • scent - we struggle to appreciate the world of scent in which our dogs live

  • sight - not all dogs see as well as we do

  • sound - dogs can hear things we cannot

  • time of day

  • weather

  • time of year - many dogs associate darker evenings with fireworks

  • lead/collar/harness

  • clothing - hats, glasses, umbrellas, canes, may all affect a dog's response

  • movement pattern, breed, colour, age of other dog

See if you can change or avoid any of the above, or use your own skills to cue a different response in this type of environment. Also consider underlying events that might be having an effect on your dog's behavioural response such as:

  • Diet or hunger

  • Fatigue

  • Health issues or pain

  • Previous life experiences - especially if you have adopted your dog

Keeping a diary - written or video, can help you identify patterns in your dog's behaviour and work to change them. Professional coaching can help you learn how to help your dog. Finding the right coach needs some careful research and you may find this blog helpful

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