Saturday, February 17, 2018

Fearful Dogs





Trainer Tip:  Fearful Dogs.
How to help give your dog confidence.

Dealing with a fearful dog can be a very difficult problem.  Dogs can and do overcome their fears with help.  First off, if you do not have the patience and time, a fearful dog may not be the right choice for you and your family.  Overcoming fear is very difficult and will generally take several months, but it is possible.

No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact.
This is important.  A dog that is fearful will be very intimidated and scared of someone who reaches out to touch them, makes direct eye contact, or even talks to them.  The first step in helping a fearful dog is to have any new people coming in to follow this rule.  It is also helpful to be aware of your body position.  Sometime even facing your body towards a fearful dog can be too much for them.  Instead try to side-face the dog or sit with your back to the dog to help make them feel more comfortable.

Take it slow, but move with purpose.
Overcoming fear will take time, so take it slow.  Make your movements around a fearful dog slow and calm, but move with purpose.  Being hesitant around a fearful dog will make them more uneasy.  Be calm but confident.

Use high value rewards.
A very fearful dog may not take food yet, but don't give up.  Use high value rewards such as stinky soft treats or real meat like turkey, chicken, or lunch meat.  It the dog is comfortable with one particular person, use that person to help them get more comfortable around things they are afraid of.

No baby talk.
When children are afraid we tend to use "baby talk" around them.  Saying things like, "Its ok...you're ok."  This is NOT something you should do with a dog.  Baby talking a fearful dog will actually tell them to stay in their fearful state.  Instead remain calm and silent until the dog does something that is facing their fear, such as moving towards or taking food near the object or person they are frightened of.  When this happens praise the dog with a calm "Good girl" or "Good boy."

Food & water.
If a dog is fearful of a particular family member, have that person be the one to always feed and water the dog (and walk them if possible).  I even encourage that person to mix a little something in their food, like a small amount of lunch meat.  Use your bare hand to mix the food so that the person's scent is also in the food.  This will help the dog start to overcome their fear of that person.



Other helpful blog articles:
Proper Leadership
Walking a scared or timid dog
4th of July Safety Tips
Trainer Tips:  Getting your dog used to touch
Trainer Tips:  Lavender Oil


Other articles that might help:
9 calming aids for fearful dogs








Monday, February 12, 2018

Down






Sit, Down, & Up:

We use the Food Lure technique to first teach these commands.  Some of these things may have already been learned, that’s great.  You can use the dog’s current knowledge of each cue and progress further to adding hand signals.  Each command should have its own word and hand signal.

Teaching a dog to "Lay Down."
For both the "Sit" and "Down" commands, we use a food lure.  For Down, start the dog in a Sit position and reward for this.  Then slowly move your baited hand (hand with a food reward already in it) from the dog's nose to the ground, pause for a second, then pull forward and out.  Make sure you move very slowly keeping the dog's nose "attached" to the food reward.  The reason we pause for a second when you hit the ground is that about 50% of dogs will actually slide backwards to lay down instead of moving forward.  Be sure to move from the dog's nose downward but staying close to the dog's chest.  Pause here and wait to see if your dog slides backwards.  If not, slowly pull the food along the ground forward.  Wait until your dog's body touches the ground then immediately say, "Down...Good!" and give the reward.  Repeat this until your dog is doing well and seems to have a good handle on the Down command, then you may start adding the word before the action.


Other helpful Blog articles:
Anti Jump Training
Helpful Ways to Exercise your Puppy
Training Stay




Monday, February 5, 2018

Come w/ Distractions



One of the things I recommend practicing with your dog as often as possible is Come when Called.  Building up a reliable recall with your dog is one of the most important things you can teach.  Doing so will help keep your dog safe and keep your mind at ease.

As with any command or cue to teach your dog, start the command at its simplest.  See the links below to get the videos and details on how to start teaching a Come when called.  Once your dog has the basics down and is reliable 90% of the time in your home or back yard, it's time to start practicing it out in the world with minimal or no distractions. Once your dog is doing well at this and responding 90% or more of the time, start adding small distractions.  Remember to set your dog up for success.  If the distraction you have tried adding is a little too much for your dog to ignore, try something they can more easily move away from.  As the dog gets better with small distractions, start making the distractions more difficult.  Remember to always move forward at your dog's pace.  If the dog is making a lot of mistakes or unable to ignore the distraction you have tried, take the training back a step and make it easier until the dog can succeed.


Other helpful Blog articles:

Come when Called Step One
Come when Called Step Two
Come when Called Off Leash