White terrier mix dog standing in a green field with a red collar on

Mat Work with Guests Entering Home – Territorial

Behavioral Concern: People entering the house. Tin Tin exhibited highly reactive behaviors, like barking and lunging, in association with people entering the home. These behavioral responses were most intense with men.

Step 1: Setting goals and expectations. Tin Tin will always have a tendency to be protective of his home. The goal was not to eradicate this impulse, but to minimize the intensity of these behaviors to the point that he is better able to connect and communicate with his owner in these scenarios.

Step 2: Implement Management Strategies:

  1. Use harness and leash when guests come over.
  2. Ask guests to ignore Tin Tin.
  3. Keep Tin Tin in bedroom with double barrier and chewy when training is not possible.

Step 3: Establish Base Training. Tin Tin worked on skill sets outlined in the first three weeks of this training module. This included training check-ins with controlled distractions, as well as mat work with duration, distraction and distance. These exercises created a strong reinforcement history for being calm and engaged.

Step 4: Integrate Unfamiliar People into Base Training Setups. Unfamiliar people were integrated into setups. The goal was to create conditions in which Tin Tin was capable of acknowledging the trigger without reacting. To set the stage for success we started training outside Tin Tin’s home environment, in a space where he had no history of practicing reactive behavior and we trained with women, prior to training with men. In each setup we conducted four sets, with one minutes breaks.

A successful session was measured by an increase in focus, engagement and relaxed body language over the course of the four sets.

Step 5: Integrating Training into Real World Scenarios. Once Tin Tin was responding well to set ups outside his home environment, we started practicing the  training in his home where the behavior was most necessary. At this point we were also able to train with men, with a significant level of success.

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