This is a brief note about Parsnip’s training. She has a tendency to lunge at small dogs, larger dogs, sometimes joggers and crowds of kids. I am learning a new way to manage this behavior. Instead of trying to stop the unwanted behavior, I am substituting a behavior that is acceptable for one that is not. When we see a dog on the street, we move to the opposite side of the street and engage in a ritual. I tell her to “leave it” then “come” then “sit.” I then reward her several times until the other dog has passed our field of vision.
I find that substituting this new behavior is largely helpful 75% or more of the time.
I have found out from the dog trainer that this is the preferred approach except for one mistake. I should be pausing the dog with her back toward the stimulus rather than facing it.
This reminds me of my own need to change unwanted behaviors. It is easier to introduce a substitute behavior than it is to stop an unwanted behavior “cold turkey.”