Zen Dog's Vancouver Reactive Dog Training

Reconnect with your worked up and stressed out dog.

When a dog reacts to triggers in their world, they mentally check out. As the person holding the leash, you might feel invisible at the moment your dog needs your reassurance the most. All the attempts you have made to distract and create distance during an episode are often ineffective (at best) and, in many cases, likely to make the behavioural problem worse. That disconnect you feel is often a frightening and isolating experience.

Dog reactivity is often a dog’s desperate attempt to create and control space from a perceived threat. It often is rooted in fear and a lack of confidence. In some dogs, reactivity can stem from an impulsive frustration to get to something, while the leash holds them back.

Life With A Reactive Dog in Vancouver

Sharing life with a reactive dog makes daily activities a real struggle. The simple act of walking down the street or welcoming a guest into the home can be a challenge. Enjoying a beach walk, having a coffee with a friend at Starbucks or going for a trail run are an impossible feat if there is the constant worry of a reactive episode with your dog.

Traditional obedience classes, harsh and punitive corrections or trying to distract with treats do not address the emotions behind the reactive brain, nor do they give sustainable tools that will modify behaviour for the long term. Instead a more focused and thoughtful approach is needed to create new pathways and compassionate understanding for the struggling dog – and space to learn.

Your dog needs YOU to be an educated and purposeful leader to build confidence and connection. The work is not easy but the tools are  accessible to begin the process and make those walks and daily routines less stressful and more progressive.

What Reactive Dog Training Looks Like

Through the Growl program we have created for our reactive dog clients, we will help you shift that isolating narrative so your dog looks to YOU for guidance and direction when they feel unsure or frustrated. We dive deep into the factors that contribute to your dog’s mental health and teach you how to educate, manage, counter-condition and desensitize your dog in their challenging urban world. The Growl course guides you through tailored protocols and exercises that calm and re-connect.

Our Growl course tackles the difficult subjects of fear, reactivity and frustration at your dog’s level, recognizing and working with your physical capabilities and previous dog experience. Through personal coaching sessions we explore factors that contribute to your dog’s mental health and cause an “over-response” to those unique triggers. Through Growl you will learn how to use marker training, real-life management, counter-conditioning and desensitization techniques, calming exercises and tailored protocols to calm and reconnect with your aroused dog.

Be ready for a good work out!

How The Growl Program Works

Growl begins with a Zoom session where we help you understand your dog’s behaviour within the context of reactivity. We create a specialized training plan built on desensitization and counterconditioning protocols that targets your dog’s issues. Lifestyle changes (including diet, management, exercise and enrichment) also are explored in this mental wellness session. The session ends with foundation exercises for you to practice before our first in-person session.

We then move to three one-hour training sessions held in the environment you need us most. In each hourly session we show you how to create connection with your dog and still meet the intended function behind that reactivity but with more socially appropriate behaviours. For these in-person sessions, we recommend the sessions be spaced two weeks apart so there is time to practice, reflect and refine if necessary.

Throughout the process we encourage questions through phone and email so we can adjust exercises where necessary. Many of our clients send video clips (thanks to the cell phone!) of their training sessions for more detailed feedback and guidance where needed, keeping things on track when questions arise.

Our Dog Training Experience

At Zen Dog Canine Training, working with reactive and over-aroused dogs is where we excel. We personally live with high drive, “big-feelings” dogs and we understand how that canine brain works. We like to think of working with the reactive dog like a jigsaw puzzle, each picture is unique to each dog/handler team. What will work well for one dog and person, might not be suitable for the next dog and so our process draws from a wealth of experience and tools we have acquired over the 25 years of working with dogs.

Reactive Dog Training Services in Vancouver 

Our extensive Growl program guides you through tailored protocols and exercises that calm and re-connect.