K9 In Training - Opposition Reflex
Opposition Reflex is an over looked issue:
As a professional I see this issue so much through out the day. If I am placing an entire section to this you may want to pay attention.
That’s right, dogs have an “opposition reflex” that causes them to push against pressure. Traditional buckle collars and harnesses can actually encourage a dog to pull forward because they press against the throat and chest. (And with collars, all that pressure is right on the trachea, which can be injured as a result, eek!)
In the dog training world, “Opposition Reflex” is a term used to describe why a puppy first resists the tension of the leash by stopping or pulling away. When tension is applied, a dog’s predatory instinct of fight, freeze or flight kicks in. Many people don’t realize dogs have this reflex or they believe a dog stops or pulls out of spite or challenge. It was discovered by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) and is discussed in many books since, including a 1996 book by Jean Donaldson, “The Culture Clash”AMAZON BOOKS .
To see opposition reflex in action, just put a leash on your cat. That’s opposition reflex! The more “wild” or the more predators an animal has, the stronger the reflex will be. Thankfully, dog’s have been domesticated and puppies are fast learners. Through conditioning, patience and trust, this reflex diminishes.
People make the mistake initially when getting a new puppy by placing it on the ground and following it around. Once the puppy can tolerate the collar and leash, the owner then allows the puppy to pull in the direction they want. As the puppy grows and gains more pulling strength, most owners make the mistake of putting these harnesses (that you see on sled dogs), along with a tightly held leash or retractable leash, allowing opposition reflex and the pulling behavior to really kick into gear.
Opposition reflex plays a role initially and throughout their lives, but there are other reason dogs continue to pull on lead:
Opposition Reflex can also increase aggression. When you see your dog getting excited and aggressive pulling and keeping the tight wil only increase the aggression in to an overload and make the dog want to go after them even more. Leash pulling can be counter conditioned at any age by hiring your local reward / science based – dog trainer. The earlier you get started, the better.
- the owner has condition them to lead the way
- They’re greatly being rewarded for pulling
- Dogs have been conditioned the harder they pull, the more distance, smells and exercise they get, even if it means choking themselves in the process,
- The owners never taught them, in a language they understand, how to walk on a loose leash.
Any example of the Opposition Reflex Theory, (ORT) is when a dog jumps on you.
Most people well do one of do thing: Both are wrong,
The Push-and-Step Back:When your/a dog "jumps-up" on you do not do this it entices (through ORT) for them to play chase and jump again.
- One--they push the dog down and back, then they step backwards
- Two--they throw the knee to the dog's chest.
Step into them and make the dog step backwards.
Throwing the Knee:
You should not kick your dog--so why would you knee them. They dog could start turning defensive and nip at the knees.