Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
24 October 1999

By [email protected]

I don't know how many people tell me they have a fearful dog at home, I have one myself. They have consulted trainers about how to deal with this problem and they are told to throw a choke collar on the dog and just make them do it. This is the last and most cruel thing that you could do to your dog. When a dog has a fear of new places or new people, they have to be introduced to it or them in the best way possible, and at their own speed. If you force the introduction you will freak out your dog. The best way to introduce your dog to fearful things is with food, really yummy treats.

The next thing you need to do is train, give that dog an education. In the safety of your home you need to teach sit, down, and stay for this particular problem. If your dog is fearful of strangers, which is the most common fear, then you need to keep treats with you all the time. When a friend comes to your house, have your dog sit stay at the door when they come in. If they are very fearful, have your friend just walk by the dog and sit on the couch. Release your dog, give treat and tons of praise. Allow the dog to come and meet the person at their own pace. Give your friend some treats and they can throw them to your dog, making a path leading to them. Friends or strangers should never look the dog in the eye or try to approach the dog.

You need to be inviting a lot of people over so you can practice. As soon as a new person comes in the house, give them some treats to give your dog when he is ready. By doing this you are teaching the dog that strangers mean treats, a good association.

Tips to remember:

Strangers are all people, except you, which the dog is afraid of.

Strangers should not pet the dog on head, always on chest.

Strangers hold food in open hand extended to dog.

Strangers should talk in high pitch voice.

Strangers should use dogs name and praise.

Changing posture from sitting to standing is very threatening to the dog, move slowly.

By having your dog do obedience in fearful situations, they are doing something familiar and keeping their mind off the fearful thing.

Take your time, this can take a long time.

Above all else be patient and kind, this is a real fear.

Sherri Regalbuto
Trainer and behaviorist

Sound Dogs
Educating your canine with positive reinforcement training.

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