Parallel Paws: 

A Force-Free Walking Club For Reactive Dogs


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Be Proactive, Not Reactive!


Parallel Paws walking club is the alternative to a dog park or off-leash hike for you and your reactive dog! 

We are a force-free walking club for people working with their reactive dogs that need consistent practice walking calmly next to other dogs/triggers in a "safe on-leash environment."  

 We are located on the North Shore and meet twice a month for a parallel walk.  We will also have qualified "guest speakers" working in the field of force-free dog training that will attend various sessions to further our education and understanding of dog reactivity. We kindly request a donation of $10.00 for every walk you attend to pay for the guest speakers attending and all extra funds will be donated directly to the local rescue Vancouver Adoptables. To learn more about this fantasttic rescue organization located right here on the North Shore, please visit their site: https://www.vancouveradoptables.com


We ask that all members have followed a behaviour modification plan put in place by a certified force-free trainer before attending any of the walking sessions.  For people who have not worked with a force-free trainer we highly recommend booking private sessions with www.Bravodog.ca. Once you have the basic skills and foundation for your reactive pup,  this walking club can be a huge benefit to you and your reactive dog. 

Grab those treat pouches, fill them up and come join us for a parallel walk! 


Please be aware that we will not be practicing direct greetings during our walking sessions, direct greetings or play time is not the goal of this group but you can definitely use the group as a resource for meeting others that may want to practice direct greetings.


We do not support the use of choke, prong or shock collars when handling dogs and require all members to follow a force-free approach. We also do not use angry yelling or leash corrections when working with our dogs! We prefer to teach our dogs what we would like them to do instead and ask that everyone do the same so that all of the dogs attending are having the most postive and stress-free experience possible.

All dogs attending must be properly fitted in a secure harness that they can not back out of . We recommend the “Freedom No-Pull harness” for walking reactive dogs which can be purchased through us. 


Our Community Mission:

The constant concern for safety while walking our reactive dogs is partly due to a lack of awareness from the general public surrounding dog reactivity and something that ALL dog guardians could benefit from practicing such as SPACE and CONSENT. With this group we hope to bridge that gap between the reactive and the "not reactive" dog world so that we can help create a more safe and respectful dog community. In doing so we also aim to encourage our local community on the North Shore to follow in our paw prints and use a force-free evidence-based approach when handling their furry companions.


Who needs a dog park when you have a walking club?! #ReactiveDogsUnite


For any inquiries please email [email protected]

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Reactive Dogs Are Good Dogs!   


The pictures above are of  my dog Chalie during various Parallel Paws walking sessions. He can be extremely dog-reactive but when set up for success, he does an amazing job at being calm around other dogs and actually has fun and enjoys himself! The happy relaxed smiling face you see is the face of a dog that has been taught using positive reinforcement and has successfully learned that barking and lunging is not the only option for him when coming across another dog. 


This didn't happen over night but real behaviour change when done properly takes time, patience and consistency. We have to remember that dogs are sentient beings with emotions and when they are reacting negatively they are not trying to cause us embarassment or show their dominance, they are actually just doing all they know how to do when confronted with something that makes them feel uncomfortable, To put it simply, they are struggling! They are expressing their fear, discomfort or anxiety and instead of yelling or "correcting" that expression we need to show our dogs that they are safe and have alternatives to that reactive behaviour.  Dogs are not robots or objects that can be "fixed" with a yank of a chain, the zap of shock or a painful pinch from a prong collar.


Inorder to help reactive dogs change and better cope with the outside world, there are many effective methods we can use instead of outdated methods that rely on fear, force and intimidation.   

We first need to prevent the behaviour from continuing on a regular basis since the more our dogs are able to practice this behaviour, the more it is reinforced and then becomes a never ending cycle.  If our dogs are constantly reacting they are under constant stress and are then unable to learn.


We can help prevent the behaviour by simply being wise about where, what time of day and for how long we are walking our dogs. 

We then need to teach our reactive dogs an alternative behaviour to reacting. This means giving them something else to do that conflicts with barking and lungung such as a "watch me" or a "touch" cue or even a game of "find it" where they are busy sniffing the ground.

The last thing we need to do which should be our long term goal is to work towards changing their emotional response when seeing triggers like other dogs or strangers from a negative emotional response to hopefully a positive one. 

We do this by pairing good things with the scary triggers, When your dog sees a trigger instead of causing pain or fear you present a yummy special treat and over time the "scary strangers" or "scary dogs" become the predictor of good things happening and are no longer seen as "scary" or something to react to. 

***To see a visual of what I have described, please click this link for an informational illustration by Lili Chin from Doggie Drawings:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lilita/12783363623/sizes/l/  

Why not choose a more effective and humane method that teaches your dog to think instead of just zapping them with a shock that does nothing to address the root cause of their reactivity?!


Positive reinforcement has actually made training fun and not something that my dog fears or I dread doing. When you work with your dog instead of against them it is incredible what you can accomplish, the bond you build and the progression you can make. Charlie and I are living proof!

 


Please read this excerpt from the Pet Professional Guild warning against the use of shock collars in dog training and instead presents evidence-based information on positive reinforcement as the most humane and effective method:


"To this end, PPG’s official position is that the use of electronic stimulation, “shock” or “e-collars” to train and/or modify the behavior of pet animals is completely unnecessary for effective behavior modification and has no place in ethical animal training. Such practices are also inherently damaging to the animal, as we will outline below.

Renowned veterinary behaviorist and PPG Special Council member, Dr. Karen Overall, states that shock collars “violate the principles of three of five freedoms that define adequate welfare for animals: Freedom from pain, injury, and disease, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress.”

 The freedoms Overall refers to are Roger Brambell’s Five Freedoms, which have been a standard for assessing animal welfare since 1965.

Countless evidence indicates that, rather than speeding up the learning process, electronic stimulation devices slow it down, place great stress on the animal, can result in both short-term and long-term psychological damage, and lead to fearful, anxious and/or aggressive behavior.

Several countries, including Wales, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, the province of Quebec in Canada, and the states of New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia in Australia, have already banned electronic stimulation devices.

It is the PPG’s position that desensitization and counterconditioning is the only ethical and effective paradigm in which to treat aggression in pet animals. Desensitization refers to the presentation of a stimulus that elicits little or no response from the dog, for example, the presence of other dogs at a certain distance, then gradually increasing the intensity of the stimulus to build up the dog’s tolerance. 

Counterconditioning is a technique for eliminating a response to a particular stimulus, such as barking at passersby, and training a new response that is incompatible with the old one."



***To read the full article please go to: https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/An-Open-Letter-Regarding-Shock-Collar-Training