Helping Dogs Conquer Their Fears with Training, Part IIFriday, February 19th, 2016, 3:07 am
We told you in our last blog that we can totally change a dog’s perception of the thing they fear with a little creativity, a lot of patience, and some food!
At The Connected Canine Dog Training Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley, we are experts at getting to the root of doggy behavioral and training issues and will help your pup become the dream dog they are meant to be.
Let’s take our dog Penny as an example. Penny spent the first 6 months of her life isolated in a backyard. That lack of early socialization and exposure to everyday things means that sometimes we come across strange things that seem to frighten her.
A couple of months ago, we decided it was time to teach Penny to go with us on bike rides. She loves to run and we thought she would have a great time. Turns out Penny “doesn’t like” being close to bicycles. We never noticed before since she is fine with bikes riding past us when we’re out walking. But when we asked her to get up close to our bike, she acted like it was a big, scary monster trying to eat her.
Now, this isn’t a huge deal and we could have said, never mind, Penny “doesn’t like” bikes so we’ll just take her jogging instead. But this is actually a great opportunity to work Penny through a fear, increase her confidence, and make her world bigger in the process.
We started out with some food and a clicker and started clicking and treating her for moving towards the bike, even if she was still 10 or 15 feet away. She was much more curious when we brought the bike out on the second day and by the end of that short session she was almost touching it with her nose. The next day she was super excited to see the bike and came running over to touch it with her nose so it was time to move onto the next step.
We used treats to lure Penny alongside the bike a few times and then started moving it - just an inch at a time at first. That was a tough one for Penny, but by making it such a small movement she was able to overcome her fear and, by the end of that session, she was walking alongside the bike for a couple of steps. Over the next week or two, we will slowly increase that distance and then start speeding things up.
Before you know it, the bike will have gone from being a scary monster to being one of Penny’s favorite things. The key is to keep each training session short (just a few minutes) and not to try to move too fast.
Break it down into tiny little steps so the dog can enjoy frequent successes.
We’ll be posting a video of the process soon so you can see exactly how we worked Penny through this fear.
So, are there things that your dog doesn’t like that are making his world smaller than it should be? If so, try out some of these tips and see if you can help him to accept, or even like, those things. If you’re not sure how to get started or get stuck in the process, give us a call. We’d love to help!
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