How Long Does it Take for My Dog to Transform from Reactive to Calm?

How Long Does it Take for My Dog to Transform from Reactive to Calm?

The time it takes to calm a reactive dog depends on many factors so there is not a definitive answer.  Fearful and over reactive behavior will not go away on its own. The dog will not grow out of it. Left untreated, both the frequency and the intensity of the problems will increase. Reactivity is one of the hardest behaviors to deal with, but have you ever wondered why that is? You may never have even thought about reactivity before you got your dog, but now when your dog starts reacting, you find yourself reacting too!

You may get stressed at the very thought of going for a walk. Of course, it is not your dog’s fault. They are acting in response to an emotion – that might be fear, anxiety or frustration – and, when they react, that can make them feel better in the moment so they keep doing it. But we can teach them a better way to respond that also feels good.  Over time they can start to ignore what once caused a meltdown or maybe even enjoy meeting other dogs or new people. In order to make this shift, we need to create a calmer space for our dogs. They can’t learn when they are stressed. This is what our Reactive Training Program is designed to accomplish.

What are your dog’s triggers?

This program will give you all the support you need.. You will develop the right skills to teach calm and accommodate your dog’s reactivity! You’ll learn easy, fun and practical ways to keep your dog’s focus when there are distractions, how to manage situations where things are less than ideal, and how to bounce back when everything has gone belly up!

There are eight core areas that are addressed to ensure you tackle reactivity and develop the relationship of your dreams. In each session you will build core skills and progress through milestones until you have mastered each area. By the time you complete our program you will have clear step-by-step instructions to help you navigate problem behaviors with ease!

The core elements include:

  • Understanding – Learn what is behind your dog’s over-reactivity and why the impact is so great for you. Understanding creates compassion for you both.
  • Observing – Tune your observations skills and learn to interpret your dog’s communication.
  • Reset – Press the reset button for you and your dog so that you can begin to build a new future.
  • Building Confidence – Fear and insecurity in dogs can manifest to over reactive behaviors. Confidence building is a great way to instill courage in fearful canines.
  • Essential Skills – Learn the core skills that will help you and your dog make progress by starting training at a distance from triggers.
  • Growing Your Relationship – Having a happy and healthy relationship with your dog will have a huge impact on your training success.
  • Advancing Your Skills – Build on the skills you have developed with controlled exposure to real triggers..
  • Ready for the Real World – Take your training on the road to real environments.

Our eight week, one-on-one program is supported by videos and handouts that address these core elements.  It is designed by global leaders in the field of reactivity and is being taught world-wide with repeatable and successful results.  I have studied under world-class mentors and applied this training to Davy, my dog.  We have an awesome partnership today. I am passionate about helping others in my area with reactive dogs like Davy.   

Our Reactive Dog Training Program is a wonderful gift for you and your dog.  It builds confidence, calms anxiety, and provides support for your both.  It will help you establish an unbreakable bond with your furry companion.  Contact us for a fear-free, positive training experience that concentrates on your objectives and delivers the results you want.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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The Benefits of Teaching Your Dog a Nose to Hand Target.

The Benefits of Teaching Your Dog a Nose to Hand Target.

This is a simple, fun behavior where your dog bops their nose to the palm of your hand and is useful keeping your dog engaged with you around distractions. You can guide them to a specific location or teach them a new behavior. For example, if I want to move Davy, my German Shepherd, away from the front door – I go to the desired location and ask him to touch my hand. This activity can be used to move your pet off the sofa to another place or on the sofa for a cuddle. It takes a little training with treats to instill a solid hand touch.

To start, present your hand toward your dog and wait for them to investigate. If they are disinterested, smear some food on your hand than mark (say “Yes”) as soon as their nose makes contact with your hand and give them a treat. Repeat this a few times before making it more difficult by holding your hand further away. When your dog is doing really well and stepping in to make contact, you can roll their reward away from you so that they can come running back to you for the next repetition. Dogs love this fun game of dash and it helps to add more momentum to their nose touch. It’s also a confidence building exercise.

Anytime you teach your dog a new skill, it supports your bonding process. It’s simple, easy, fun, and can be a stepping stone to future skills and tricks like spin, down, and recall. Every good activity your dog learns can be used to replace or prevent undesirable behaviors.

If you have a fearful or reactive dog, hand targeting is a great way to distract them in the presence of a trigger before they get too excited. With practice, it is an easy way to regain your dog’s attention.

It can be a great management tool to move your dog closer to you to a better position for grooming and nail trimming. This will give you the chance to add duration to a hand target which may also be beneficial during veterinary exams. Most importantly, it can help to teach a reliable recall. It’s easier for your dog to perform a speedy, reliable recall when he already knows the skill of hand targeting.

Once you and your dog get the hang of this, you’ll find plenty of moments where it comes in handy! Happy Training.

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DID YOU KNOW? Christmas Dog Comfort Guide

DID YOU KNOW? Christmas Dog Comfort Guide

We welcome family and friends over the holidays. It’s a time of gratitude and celebration that may include joyful gatherings, good food, pleasant conversations, and fun. Sadly, for many pets, the holidays mean stress, fear, and anxiety. Strangers come and go, it’s noisy, the house is filled with different decorations, and the quiet routine is disturbed. As good pet owners, we can prepare our pets for the holiday season by having a plan.

MANAGEMENT: This can be as simple as blocking the window view, keeping food out of your dog’s reach, preventing door dashing with a baby gate, setting up a safe spot for your dog in a quiet place. If your family has friends over and you can see your dog is getting anxious from the noise and distubance of their usual routine, consider moving your dog away from the gathering. An X pen, crate, closed door, and using a muzzle are ways to help your dog feel secure and safe when they are habituated to them.

The benefits of good management are under-rated. Managing a situation rather than trying to change your dog’s behavior is sometimes the easiest answer to a behavior problem for both you and your dog.

DITCH THE BOWL: One of the best activities you can do to calm your dog is feeding your dog without using a bowl. You can distribute food in different places, at different levels, and on different surfaces; allowing your dog the opportunity to sniff, search, and chew. You can use containers, towels, cups, and boxes or chairs to put food at different heights. You can vary the surface with metal, towels, mats, and carpets. Your dog will have a blast spending ten to fifteen minutes pursuing an epicurean delight.

You can offer different treats and watch your dog show you their true preferences. This is a natural activity that is soothing, provides mental stimulation, and includes scent work–all rewarding activities for a dog! It’s a good power-up when the unfolding day includes company, a vet visit, fireworks, storms, and other trigger moments that create fear, anxiety, and stress.

This is good for dogs of all ages. It doesn’t require any special training and can be a creative DIY project with awesome results. It’s fun, enriching, and relaxing.

CALMING SIGNALS: How do you know if your dog is calm or stressed? There are certain indicators a dog will display when they are anxious. These are called “calming signals.”

Examples of Calming Signals:

  • Big Yawn
  • Blinking
  • Lowering the tail
  • Sneezing
  • Lip Licking
  • Shake off
  • Paw lift
  • Stretching
  • Look Away
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing
  • Scratching
  • When you observe these signals, your dog is telling you that they are uncomfortable with either where they are or what is going on. This is a time for you to manage their environment by moving them to a quieter place.

SAFE SPOT: Many dogs are not comfortable with other people, a lot of noise or children. This can may make a holiday gathering stressful for them. It is better for an anxious dog to have a safe space away from the action. While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, there are a number of ways of making a comfortable place for a dog that is not a fan of noisy gatherings. Get your pet used to a calming environment beforehand. Dogs need a sanctuary to seek refuge from the hubbub of household activity when they are stressed. Here is a list of topics for creating a safe place:

  • Location: Set up a quiet location that is furthest from the festivities for your dog.
  • Containment Options: If your dog normally sleeps in a crate, you will want to move the crate to a quiet room so that your dog can rest in a familiar spot. If your dog does not use a crate, be sure to dog proof the area where you set up the safe spot. You can keep your dog contained with an X Pen or a baby gate. This option is to support your dog and keep them feeling secure.
  • Calming Music: Try leaving on the AC, a fan, Dog TV, or soothing music that can help mask the sounds of the festivities. There are hundreds of classical, reggae, jazz stations that have a calming effects for dogs. Special music, like Through a Dog’s Ear, is made specifically to relax your dog.
  • Comforting Items: Leave a worn shirt or blanket with your dog as your scent can be very comforting.
  • ADAPTIL (Pheromone Spray): Science has found a way to mimic a mother’s calming pheromone in the form of ADAPTIL. Just as puppies are quiet while nursing, this pheromone calms adult dogs in the same way.
buttercup christmas CROPPED
Wrapping Up the Old and Ringing in the New

Wrapping Up the Old and Ringing in the New

Thank you for spending 2021 with us. We hope this year was a good year for you and that you approach 2022 with excitement and wonder about what lies ahead. I am happy to report that 2021 picked up momentum as the year unfolded. Our loyal clients returned, new clients are booking requests at a steady pace, we have added a new service (reactive dog training), and we are thrilled to continue to do what we love.

A lot of considerations come with running a small business. Are we doing our job better than anyone else? Is my staff happy and adequately trained? Are they being paid a decent wage? Am I being responsible with expenses? Am I delegating too much or not enough? I analyze every aspect of running a business: staffing, training, financials, scheduling, invoicing, and make adjustments to keep operations running smoothly. I used to believe I would reach a point where things would hum along. Did I miss it, is it just around the corner, will I know it when I am there?

What I do know, is that I am exactly where I need to be. Through my experience with Davy, my GSD, I discovered an area in our community that wasn’t being served – reactive dog training. These dogs have struggles and so do their owners. Working with reactivity is different than training for basic skills. It wasn’t until I studied reactive dog training for Davy that I realized how valuable this training would be for others who have reactive dogs like him.

My four-year Fear Free Elite training and subsequent studies from world leaders in the field of reactivity have honed my skills to offer a special, game changing eight-week program. From my initial results this year, I know this program can help both ends of the leash and build an unbreakable bond in your partnership.

I love learning, teaching, and being an entrepreneur. I enjoy working with pets and my team, and have a strong curiosity to learn and do more. My vision is to intertwine training with my pet-sitting and dog-walking services when applicable to do so. I have two areas of training: 1) walk and train and 2) reactive dog training. The first deals with what we encounter when walking dogs including, standing still while being leashed, not jumping up on us, walking calmly on a loose leash, and mastering the art of drop it/leave it/trade up. Reactive dog training is a highly specialized field for this community of pets and pet parents. In all of our training we use Fear Free methods to ensure a pleasurable experience for all involved. Contact us to inquire about our next session.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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We Speak Dog and Cat

We Speak Dog and Cat

There is a trend in my industry for pet sitters who used to care for dogs and cats to streamline their services to cats only. Why is this happening? There are some advantages: easier scheduling, indoor visits, not as physically demanding as walking a dog, weather has less of an impact, most visits can be made in the late morning and early afternoon giving the pet sitter more down time. It’s tempting to consider, but I can’t see choosing one over the other. We love both and our training and client testimonials reflect that.

We are just as comfortable caring for either and our Fear Free approach puts both species at ease. We observe temperament and body language and use a quiet and gradual approach with each pet we visit. We love it when a shy cat or a fearful dog relaxes and accepts us.

We know where cats hide, how much food and water they consume, and if the litter box is being used appropriately. Our keen observations, noted in our visit reports, put pet owners at ease. When a kitty is ready for enrichment, we are happy to oblige with toys, wands, fetch, laser lights, and more.

There are many professional pet sitters, like us, who are skilled in lovingly caring for both cats and dogs in a calm manner that keeps them safe, secure, and relaxed. Over the years we have received many testimonials from cat clients who are delighted to come home to happy and relaxed cats – for first time. Some are incredulous that we have gotten their cat to leave the closet for a treat or some playtime. We win them over because we understand them and use a considerate approach to earn their trust.

Contact us for a fear-free, positive experience with your pet (dog or cat) next time they need proper care. We would love to establish a relationship with you and your furry companion.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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Creating Harmony for Dogs, Cats, and Holiday Guests

Creating Harmony for Dogs, Cats, and Holiday Guests

We welcome family and friends over the holidays. It’s a time of gratitude and celebration that may include joyful gatherings, good food, pleasant conversations, and fun. Sadly, for many pets, the holidays mean stress, fear, and anxiety. Strangers come and go, it’s noisy, the house is filled with different decorations, and the quiet routine is disturbed. Pets can’t find a place to settle and they don’t sleep as well. These are some triggers that make this season of the year challenging for pets.

You can help your pets stay calm by setting up a safe space for them (crate, room, x pen) where they feel secure and can get away from the activity. This quiet spot can be adorned with their favorite toys or chews, sprayed with Adaptil (dogs) or Feliway (cats), and calming music from the radio. Set this up in advance. Cats need a litter box, water, food, scratching post, and something familiar.

Ask your visitors to respect your pet and not to overwhelm them with unwanted attention or inappropriate food. You can set aside some of their usual treats for a pet lover to drop on the floor by your pet instead of offering it by hand.

Watch your pet’s body language to make sure they are comfortable. If they look away, shake off, yawn, pant, or act tense – encourage them to go to their safe spot. Oh, and most pets aren’t crazy about wearing a costume.

If your pet is a food thief, keep the serving areas out of his reach. Some dangerous holiday items are uncooked bones, chocolate, bread dough, sticks of butter, macadamia nuts/grapes and raisins, avocados, alcohol/cannabis/human medications, and sugar-free products containing xylitol (gum, some peanut butter). If you are traveling with your pet, make sure you are aware of where your pet is and keep them away from rodent control poisons and anti-freeze.

Watch the entryways. If your dog or cat is a door dasher, take steps to block this from happening. It’s a good idea to have a name tag secured to your dog’s collar.

If you use mistletoe or holiday tinsel, please keep these away from your cat.

Your pets are used to a quiet routine and aren’t used to strangers. It’s important to support them so your gatherings aren’t a source of stress. The signs of anxiety are so subtle, they can easily go unnoticed and your holiday ruined..

Be smart, be safe, and create wonderful holiday memories for your guests and all the members of your family.

Anyways, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving from Crocketts Critter Care

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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