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Help for Your Fearful Dog – Part 3

Once you’ve been able to work with your dog around his triggers and can get him to focus his attention on you easily with lots of treats and happy talk, its time to ask him to actually ‘do’ something such as Look at you, Sit, Touch, etc.

If you’ve had trouble keeping your dog’s attention on you, you are working too close to his triggers. Increase the distance and continue to work at a level where your dog stays calm and can focus his attention you.

Now, when your dog sees another dog (or whatever his triggers are), say his name, cue a ‘Watch Me’ or ‘Look’ and praise and reward with treats. Still use a high rate of food rewards, but now we are asking for a specific behavior. Your dog will start to learn – see a dog, look at you – instead of barking and lunging.

Watch for that magic moment when your dog sees another dog and automatically turns towards you before you say his name. That’s what you are working towards. Then you can start to praise your dog the moment he sees another dog and stays calm (you might only have a 2 second window to catch this calm behavior before your dog starts barking so be observant and quick with your praise). Your praise should cause your dog to look at you since he knows that praise predicts treats.

As your dog’s reaction improves, you can start to get closer to other dogs but do this very gradually. Check out www.fearfuldogs.com for additional information.

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