Gotcha/Desensitization

GOTCHA: Is a command which gets a dog accustomed to having his collar touched or even grabbed.

WHY?

This seems like a silly exercise to do with your dog, but in reality, it’s very important. 20% of dog bites occur from children and adults grabbing a dog’s collar. If you think about it, dogs usually get their collars grabbed when they have done something “bad”. So it doesn’t take our friends long to make the connection between getting their collar touched and something unpleasant happening to them. As a result, dogs learn to defend themselves when they see a hand coming towards them. So let’s teach our dogs that it is a good thing to have their collar grabbed, let’s not punish them unnecessarily, and let’s eliminate 20% of dog bites!

Another important reason to work on this exercise through- out the 8 weeks, is to teach dogs that when they are off leash & you reach out to get them, that they welcome your out-reached arm & don’t take off in another direction into a dangerous situation.

Dogs are not born knowing how to act in and out of our homes. They need to have a leader – YOU, who through demonstration, reward and patience, teaches what they should & shouldn’t do. By doing so, it creates peace within their pack … your family. REMEMBER, these rules need to be fair and consistent.

Naturally, we humans tend to take for granted that all dogs should know that it’s normal to have their collars touched; however, from the dog’s point of view, it may be a different story. The goal of this exercise is to teach your dog that touching his collar is a good thing!

STEP 1:

Have your dog in front of you, begin in squatting position, with a treat in one hand and your other hand free. You are going to do three things @ once. Give the command “Buddy, gotcha!” as you slowly touch his collar (or collar area on his neck) and simultaneously place a treat into his mouth. As long as they do not seem phased by this, pour on the praise immediately! If they do seem scared or bothered, stop and ask the instructor for guidance.

It is important to do this slowly the first week or so; especially with shelter dogs or dogs that have been grabbed unkindly in the past. We don’t want to scare them.

STEP 2:

During the week, you should slowly stand up each day, so that you are beginning the exercise from standing up.

TIP:

Use a happy voice when giving this command. IT is a happy behavior that you want to elicit.

WHAT DO I DO IF …?

Your dog seems scared or bothered, stop and ask the instructor for guidance.

** The word “grab” is NOT used to infer a violent or abusive act. It is defined as a quick hand movement.

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