Saturday, February 12, 2011

Overcoming fears in Fearful Dogs

Dogs have fears for several reasons, that is a whole article to itself and we've covered it in the article link to the right called 'Fearful Dogs' we also made a Lens at Squidoo for more general tips on 'Confidence Building for Fearful Dogs'. Be sure to check them out too.

Here I hope to talk about ways to overcome those fears you'll find in fearful dogs. There are several ways to do so. I think the most popular method is by using the clicker and treats. So I am going to cover some basics on using a clicker and some treats to help your dog overcome some fears.

The first thing you need to do, is make sure to 'charge' the clicker. Be sure your dog knows what that click means. If your completely new to clicker training, be sure to check out 'Clicking With Your Dog' along with 'Click for Joy!' I can not recommend those two books enough. They are great for anybody interested in clicker training.

If you don't yet have a clicker, their are many out there to choose from. My favorite to use is the StarMark Clicker. However you can use iClicks too. I'm not a huge fan of them simply because they are so quiet. If you have a sensitive dog or a fearful dog, those might be the way to go though. These also come with a wrist coil to keep them hooked to your wrist for easy grabbing.

Now that you should have the needed equipment, lets continue. Once your dog knows what the clicker means, you will want to teach them to target. Targeting is simply touching their nose to a certain thing. You can use your hand, finger, a lid off a container, a pen or even a stick to teach this. If your not sure how to teach target, I again recommend 'Clicking With Your Dog' this book will teach you how to train target, along with several other things that will help your dog come out of his shell and gain confidence.

Once your dog knows how to target, you will be able to use it for several different things! Targeting is used in so many different training instances, it's a must teach! Now you can start getting things your dog is fearful of and at first just start in the same room with the object or person, or what ever he is afraid of. If it's another dog, then have somebody hold the other dog. Now you can practice targeting on the other side of the room, gradually targeting closer and closer to the feared object. You want to make this varied, sometimes be closer, other times move back. In doing so, your dog will pay less attention to moving closer to the object.

You might not get up to the object in the same lesson or the same day. If your dog is truly terrified, take a few days of just working in the same room with that object. Eventually you'll be able to work right up next to the feared object, getting your dog touching all around it. Your end goal is to teach the dog to touch his nose to the feared object. Rewarding heavily when he does! The first feared object will be the hardest to get your dog close to and to touching, but every object after that will get easier and easier. Before long your dog will be running over to previously feared object, touching his nose to it then looking at you going... 'Now where's my treat?'. You can use this procedure with just about everything your dog is afraid of, if it's a person, have them touch the person's hand.

If it's a dog they are fearful of, you'll take a different approach to teaching them how to overcome that fear. You still want to get them used to working in the same room as the other dog and working closer and closer, but not necessarily touching the other dog. Be sure the other dog is gentle and kind. You don't want to use an overly hyper dog the first time you do this. One that can ignore the fearful dog would be best. You want to get your dog up where he can feel safe sniffing the other dog with out the other dog scaring him off. Once your dog is able to meet several nice dogs, you can gradually start adding in a little more dogs who would like to play. Your goal here is to be able to let other dog go and both can play together. Don't use an overly playful dog on the first time either, if it's too much for the fearful dog, they will run and hide. Fearful dogs don't always know how to play at first and need time to learn how.

There are several more ways to go about overcoming fears in fearful dogs, I recommend checking into Help for Your Fearful Dog: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Dog Conquer His Fears. This book is easy to read and really does take you step by step in helping your dog overcome fears. Another book would be Scaredy Dog! Understanding & Rehabilitating Your Reactive Dog.

Those two books can help owners of fearful dogs tremendously! Some other books you can look into would be The Cautious Canine
and Help for Your Shy Dog: Turning Your Terrified Dog into a Terrific Pet.

Any one of those books will get you headed in the right direction with your dog. Pick on and read it, get started on your dog!

1 comment:

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