Dogs who struggle the most with reactivity (like a lot of Yorkies and some of the other small breeds!) sometimes seem to have a strong genetic inclination for lots of intense barking and hyper alerting on everything!
As owners and handlers of these kinds of mentally aroused dogs, we have to be very skillful and consistent with making sure that we always correct all forms of ‘loading’ (the precursor to the reactivity) so that we can teach our dogs how to develop a calm mindset rather than allowing their genetic tendencies to take over and pattern them into barking and growling tornados! (Picture the Tasmanian devil cartoon here 😂)
When we see a dog ’loading’ on the sounds of someone coming into the house we’ll see his upright alert ears focused on the door sounds, his eyes fixating in the direction of the door, his uptight shivers of concerns, and we’ll hear the beginnings of tense grumbles and growls. All of these indications are a way of the dog telling us that if we don’t take charge of the situation by correcting his intense mindset then he’s going to lose his marbles and become wildly reactive. So, we need to correct the dog’s mindset at the earliest signs of loading and not wait until the dog has become reactive- that’s like closing the barn door after the horse has run out… it’s simply too late! And if we are very proficient and consistent in correcting all forms of ‘loading’ then we can begin to cultivate a much calmer, handler focused and most importantly a more comfortable dog.