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.

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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Help! I can’t walk my dog. What can I do?

Help! I can’t walk my dog. What can I do?

“Exercise restriction” may be recommended by a veterinarian for a number of reasons. A dog may be resting a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), receiving heart worm treatment, or recovering from an injury or surgery. I have encountered each of these scenarios in the last year, and the dogs ranged from normally active adolescents to slowing down seniors. What do we do with their pent-up energy and ensuing boredom? Fortunately, there are several activities that provide mental stimulation during this forced downtime.

Environmental enrichment: Increase their indoor level of low-impact activities. The right level of mental stimulation, and plenty of opportunities to be more dog will result in a dog that can cope better.

Ditch the bowl: Instead, feed your dog using food puzzles, snuffle mats, treat-filled Kongs, lickimats. You can scatter food and treats in different locations around the house or hide treats in a towel, a muffin tin, or a tube. Watch your dog explore the different options.

Mental stimulation: hunting, chewing, licking, mind and scent work, tricks and games are great low-impact activities for your dog.
Play can often meet our dog’s needs: Hidden Treasure – dogs have a remarkable sense of smell. Place a few small boxes or containers out on the floor and add a treat underneath one of them. Encourage your dog to sniff and find the treat. Praise them and reward them with the discovered treat. A snuffle mat, food puzzles, and lickimats all satisfy a dog’s need to hunt. Try puzzles with different skill levels to challenge your dog more. But don’t make it so hard that your dog gets frustrated.

Hide-and-seek is fun for children to play too. When your dog isn’t watching, pick the perfect spot to hide, call your dog, and celebrate their accomplishment with a yummy treat when they find you. This is a good way to practice recall.
Which hand game – this is the beginning of learning nose work. Place a treat in one hand, hold both hands out towards your dog in a fist and encourage them to pick the hand with the treat. Be sure your dog takes the treat nicely from your hand. If he is mouthy, it’s an opportunity to teach them manners.

Put your toys away is one of my favorites. Dogs like this one too. Start by having your dog pick up a toy near where they’re normally stored. Have your dog “drop it” while standing over the toy box. Once they get the hang of this, they can clean up after themselves. Patience and praise are a good recipe to support their progress.

Car rides/stroller walks may help soothe a dog’s confinement while they are on a limited exercise regime. Take them out for a spin. You can stop by a quiet spot for a picnic. Bring something novel along in a box and open it slowly with excitement (a feather, something with a lavender smell, a new treat) to add to the ambience. Sit for a spell and enjoy some quality time together.

Slow petting, similar to a gentle massage or a light scratching, is a sensory way to calm a dog down. Avoid areas where your dog doesn’t like to be touched. Some dogs don’t like the top of their head, muzzle, or ears touched.

Set your dog up for success. Enrichment activities must be safe and fun. Adjust the level of difficulty of puzzles and games gradually so your dog doesn’t get frustrated. Supervise the aggressive chewers so they don’t ingest any object pieces. Games and play are wonderful ways for your dog to pass the time when his normal activity routine is paused. Engaging with your dog is good for both of you. Enjoy the experience. When your dog is ready to resume normal activities, you will have a list of experiences to return to when it is wet, cold, hot or windy. Have fun.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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