Create Your Dog’s Security Zone Today

nbndogs3It’s absolutely imperative you read this blog until the end if you have ever struggled with:

  • Loose-leash walking
  • Recall
  • Reactivity to people, other dogs, noises
  • Chasing and zoomies
  • Lack of focus
  • or just general, lack of relationship.

The behaviours Naughty But Nice dogs show are typically the result of a cocktail of two things. Whether they are reactive to people, other dogs, noises or get easily overaroused or like to chase, these two things are often at the basis of their behaviour:

  • HIGH AROUSAL - Arousal involves a very complex interaction between the brain (specifically an area called the reticular activating system) and other areas (for example, those involved in hormone production). This affects how likely your dog is to respond to you and its environment, but, in addition to this, arousal affects how positive and negative events are processed and the resulting emotion. Therefore, the same event (for example, a dog barking) may result in a completely different emotional (and behavioural) response, depending on arousal level. Further to this, high arousal is a component of fear and overexcitement - NBN dogs often do both really well!
  • Further to this, NBN dogs are often very CREATIVE! They choose to do things that, to us, seem really inappropriate when they are worried or overexcited:

“I’m worried by that large dog over there… hmmm I know! I’m going to go do zoomies around him!”

“I love when mum does agility with me.. hmmm I know! I’m going to nip her rear!”

“That car is moving.. hmm I know! I’ll chase it!”

Now, of course, your dog isn’t really thinking any of those things. They are feeling an emotion (overarousal, fear, anxiety, frustration) and they pick a behaviour (quite often randomly!) to cope with that emotion they are feeling. Some humans open a bottle of wine after a stressful day - dogs might instead do the above! They are coping strategies.

Now here is the cool thing, we can actually make our dog’s feel both calm and confident about their surroundings AND teach them a better way to cope when they do experience those emotions of overexcitement and overarousal. It’s called proximity zone, and we show you how to start developing it with two simple games in the following video:

It teaches massive focus on you and makes teaching things like a recall and loose-leash walking a really easy concept to sell to your dog because they love being with YOU!

We share with you two games in the video. The one that I want you to start playing right away is proximity vortex. This is one of the many games we use to build this proximity zone and it’s super simple:

  1. All you need is high value rewards for your dog and low value rewards for your dog;
  2. Throw out the low value reward and send your dog to go get it;
  3. Once they have eaten the low value reward, they are going to run back to you looking for more. At that point, reward them with the higher value reward;
  4. Repeat and repeat (it’s a lot of fun!)

It really is that simple but, as I said, check out the video on how to play it here:

This teaches your dog a super important concept:nbndogs4

The world out there is great and nothing to worry about BUT being close to me is the really special place. That’s the place you really should want to hang out and feel safe!

You can start to look at this as a security fence around you and your dog that goes everywhere with you. You have the confidence that your dog wants to be with you and they have the confidence of the proximity zone protecting them.

This is one of the most powerful things you will teach your dog - I promise - and it’s immensely powerful for Naughty But Nice dogs.

In the next blog, I’m going to delve into why some dogs see everything as just super, while others worry about any slight change or anything new or slightly strange.

Until next time, have fun with the two games and get building your proximity zone:

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Positively Expert: absoluteDogs

Tom is a veterinarian, clinical behaviourist and companion and sports dog trainer, providing a unique perspective on all things dog.


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