A Reactive Dog Teaches Social Distancing

By Ruth Polk

What my family called “reactivity” was really training in social distancing. Someone’s coming? Turn around, walk away, down a driveway, or up the steps. Would they’ve figured out these tricks? Of course not!

They respond effectively because I’ve been patiently training, day-by-day, year-by-year.

We’ve practiced all types of scenarios: There’s a mail carrier, quick, what will you do?

If they got us away, I rewarded them with good behavior. If they were daydreaming, I barked and pulled hard on the leash. It takes a lot of reinforcement for them to learn new behaviors.

Good thing we started preparing years ago.

“Seeing the changes brought on by the pandemic through Pettigrew’s eyes has helped me keep it in perspective.” – the writer

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