Using a Step-by-Step Plan for Change

The first step will be to begin reducing your dog’s undesirable behaviours. It’s important to learn and apply the Back to Basics Principles behind The STOP WAIT LISTEN Rule. You can start work straight away on an individualised plan and take things at a pace most suitable for you and your circumstances.

For the more specific, less generalised issues, even the smallest ones, there are usually many steps involved to change a behaviour and you will need help to guide you on what should happen in each step and you can practice some exercises with your dog. You will need to learn how to use patience and take as much time as needed in order to gain your dog’s trust, therefore creating positive associations with whatever you are wanting to achieve and/or change.

You can be taught how to recognise signs of any negative reactions, from you or your dog, and how to stop these from escalating before you move on to the next step. It is counter-productive to try and achieve anything while your dog is under stress or displaying any inappropriate behaviour. If you keep on pushing, your dog will learn nothing from the experience except how stressful it is for them, this then becomes a negative association and you will have the same stress levels each and every time you try the same activity.

Please Remember: In rare cases when situations trigger extreme aggression or any other extreme negative reaction in your dog, positive reinforcement will NOT work and your dog needs to learn that their behaviour will always be met with a strong one-time correction, a block or a redirection from you. Once you are able to change the pattern of extreme behaviour, only then can you introduce positive reinforcement. Caution must be taken when working with a dog with any major behavioural or health concerns.

In my experience most dog owners assume they don’t have the time to work on helping their dog overcome their difficulties, yet sometimes it may take less time than you think. It may take ten minutes, half an hour, two hours or many repetitions over weeks or months to change a behaviour. Eventually though, your dog will learn to see you as the voice of authority who they can trust and as someone who is going to help them feel more relaxed about the things which used to feel stressful for them.

Your chosen professional will start you off on the process for change and teach you the necessary skills to build your confidence to work with the issues as you are able to. For the more serious or urgent issues it is best for you to observe how they deal with your dog’s behaviour to begin with before you feel comfortable, or safe, dealing with things yourself.


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