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Training Through The Trigger Part 1: Life is unpredictable.

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

After doing quite a bit of training recently, and working my dog through some triggers (fireworks).. I've been reminiscing on a seminar I went to last winter..

Hosted by a Veterinary Behaviorist.

The takeaway from that 8 hour lecture:

  • Never tell a dog no (It breaks trust and hurts their feelings)

  • Always give treats (even while a dog is barking at you, it teaches them that they get rewards when they stop barking...??🤦)

  • Avoid triggers for your dog (if the mail man comes at noon each day, be sure to go home on your lunch break and kennel the dog before he gets there)

I'm not kidding.....

Sorry, but none of this is sound advice in my eyes. Giving rewards for bad behavior and insulating your dog in a protective bubble from their problems does nothing to help them.

This technique can actually reinforce fear -based behaviors.

Do you avoid everything that upsets you?

Well, you might... But does it ever get resolved?

Or do you have to actively avoid that trigger for the rest of your life...?

Constantly on the lookout, preparing for worst case scenario? In a consistent state of anxiety..?


NEWSFLASH: Life is unpredictable, and following this mindset, ultimately leads to:

  • More chaos

  • More triggers

  • More emotional trauma

  • And more unwanted behaviors because of poor coping skills

The trick?


Develop coping skills and face the fear head on.

After all, most ill behaviors presented by dogs are based out of FEAR. (Read that post here).


Your dog doesn't like mailman?

Sit on the stoop every Saturday and wait for him to come. Dog by your side, on a leash.

Correct or inhibit the bad behavior (reaction).

Give rewards for good behavior (NO reaction).

This is actually a form of mindfulness (yes, it works for dogs too)!

It's not rocket science. Quit babying your dog's feelings in protection of your own.

It's okay to say no. It's okay for dogs to learn other coping skills.

It's okay to expose them to something 'scary' and coach them through their emotional reaction to certain stimuli.

They need leadership and guidance.

Not pitty.

As one of my favorite trainers says, and I quote:

"Love them by leading them."

-Sean O'Shay

Read Part 2 HERE.


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