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Swayze the Samoyed needed help.

He was very reactive on walks, and when he saw another dog - even at a distance - he would bark and lunge and lose control, trying to get to the strange dog. His owner, Patrick, wanted Swayze to be a safe travel buddy and a calm walker, so he and his girlfriend could safely walk him.

We started with lots of focus exercises, helping Swayze learn that looking back at his owners when asked (checking in), would be rewarded. We made it a fun game to check back in and then worked on polite walking skills - combining walking with checking back in.

Then we added seeing strange dogs at a distance, and before Swayze could react, we asked him to check in - and he did (and was rewarded with a treat). Soon he realized that looking at a strange dog, and then checking back in with his owner could get him a treat, and it became a game.

So we moved closer to the dogs. We went to the Glasgow dog park, and stood in the parking lot, close to where dogs were running, barking, and playing. Swayze looked at them for a while, without reacting, and then checked in with his owner with a look that said, “See what I just did?” Patrick laughed and gave him a treat, which relaxed Swayze even more. He turned and watched the dogs for a while, and then checked back in again, and got a treat.

The treats and the “check-in” game helped Swayze realize that strange dogs are not a threat and are not stressful. They are actually kind of fun to look at when they pass by. Swayze has a great smile, and looks so pleased with himself when he gets reinforced for being a “good boy.”

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