Training Helps Dogs Face Their FearsTuesday, January 26th, 2016, 11:52 pm
"My Dog Doesn't Like Men Who Wear Brown Shoes With Black Pants"
At The Connected Canine Dog Training Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley, we spend a lot of time talking to people about their dogs, and asking questions to figure out what’s going on and how training might help to solve their problems.
During those conversations, people often tell us about the things their dog “doesn’t like.” It usually sounds something like this “Well, he really doesn’t like men in hats or uniforms or children” or “She really doesn’t like bicycles or skateboards” or “He doesn’t like to go for walks in the dark or on busy streets” or “She doesn’t like it when we use the vacuum cleaner, blender, dishwasher, insert name of tool or appliance here” or “He just doesn’t like to ride in the car.”
As we talk further, we find out that the dog who doesn’t like certain appliances has to be put away in another room while the chores get done. The dog that doesn’t like kids or the UPS guy only gets walked at night so they don’t have to worry about running into an issue. The dog that doesn’t like to go out in the dark doesn’t get to go for walks at all in the winter months since his owners get home from work after dark. And the dog that doesn’t like to ride in the car never really gets out of his immediate neighborhood except for vet visits.
In other words, these dogs’ worlds are smaller than they should be. They are missing out on some of the best things in our dogs’ lives because of things they “don’t like.”
How Training Can Help Your Dog Face Move Past Fear
Let’s take a look at what’s really going on here. Dogs don’t just decide that they “don’t like” the car or kids or the vacuum cleaner for no reason. What is underneath all of these things is fear. Sometimes a dog who is afraid of something will try to run away from it, but sometimes fear comes out in different ways.
Don't Reinforce Your Dog's Bad Behavior
The dog who is afraid of the vacuum cleaner or men in hats might bark or lunge at them in an effort to make them go away. And it usually works! So that behavior gets stronger and stronger and the dogs’ world gets smaller and smaller.
The good news is that, just like people, dogs can get over their fears and doing so helps them to develop greater confidence and a sense of security in all areas of their lives. And it doesn’t even really matter how their fear originally developed. It could be that an adult rescue dog had a horrible experience that led to that fear. But we work with lots of dogs who have been with their owners since 8 weeks of age and have never been abused or mistreated that still develop fears.
It doesn’t matter whether the fear is based in reality or completely irrational, they can still get over it and the process is always the same and it doesn’t have to take a long time.
Having a good basic training foundation means a dog who knows how to walk nicely on a leash, sit, down, and place) makes the process easier since we can control the dog’s movements while slowly introducing the thing that makes them fearful.
Add in a little creativity, a lot of patience, and some food and we can totally change a dog’s perception of the thing they fear. Contact The Connected Canine of San Fernando Valley to see how can help your pup get over his or her fears and make them into the well-behaved dog you always knew he had the potential to be.
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