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Opposition Reflex

Opposition Reflex

Opposition Reflex is a dogs inherent reaction to pressure, when pressure is applied to the leash to make the dog come toward you, instinctively the dog reacts by pulling in an opposite direction.

Some like to suggest that is the dog looking to achieve balance in life whereas I was taught in Animal Behaviour Science that a dog that is trapped will pull against the trap to avoid becoming prey, either way the same rules apply.

When OR effects our training positively.

Restrained Recalls are known to build a lot of drive in dogs through frustration, this frustration is often intensified by Opposition Reflex (the helper holding the dog back).

Dumbbell retrieves or what some people call Apport Drive or Go Out Drive are also increased by placing the DB out in front of a dog that wants to retrieve it, you hold the dog back by the collar, some even pullback and give the command and let the dog go.

Back tying a dog and stimulating the dog with prey or food will increase drive thought Opposition reflex induced frustration.

Bitework and many other elements benefit from Opposition reflex so we don’t want to eliminate it at all.

When OR effects our training negatively

Leash Pulling dogs can be a real pain to walk, they are learning that their owner uses the leash to prevent them accessing fun so when the leash comes off they take off.

When we try and use our body to move a dog or to pull the dog by the collar to a location, the dog resists and makes this hard to achieve.

The problem I see most commonly with large, driven dogs is that they are dog aggressive. In 99.9% of the cases the dog is a chronic leash puller and the resistance on the leash has caused the dog to become frustrated and aggression followed.

the owners of these didnt of course intend this to be the outcome, so when their dog was a pup they allowed the pup to pull on leash because it was not a real problem, but as we know pups grow into dogs and this is when it does become a problem.

Kow that to increase drive we restrain, restraict and pull back on a dogs harness, collar or body, the same action people use to stop aggression, so you can see why iot does not work.

A dog that walks on a loose leash is: –

  • Managing his or her emotions
  • Practicing impulse control
  • Making rational choices.

A dog that is pulling on the leash is:

  • Rehearsing a bad habit
  • Self reinforcing the bad habit
  • Emotional
  • Frustrated
  • Conflicted
  • without fight option

There are those with puppies that vow to address this problem when their dog grows up a little and develops more maturity and others think their dog will grow out of these behaviours, those people have no evidence that this is true, in fact it is just wishful thinking.

This is one of THE most important steps to get right when raising a puppy. Spend the next few months making sure your across this.