Help for Your Fearful Dog – Part 4

If you’ve been following the previous posts, you may feel like this is a lot of work. It is. But the more you practice, the more automatic and natural your interactions with your dog will become, as will his with you.

It’s important to practice certain things when you are out on walks when there are no other ‘triggers’ around. This will help provide a solid foundation for alternate behavior when other dogs or triggers do appear.

First, practice your dog’s name response and ‘watch me’ whenever you are out. You want this behaivor to be solid and automatic. This will make it more likely that this behavior will be easier to achieve when triggers do appear.

Next, practice turning in the other direction. This seems very basic but if you are out with your dog and a trigger appears, often your best option is to just turn and walk the other way. To do this, use an upbeat command such as “Let’s Go” or “This Way”. Just practice quick, easy, relaxed turns when there is nothing going on, adding this command and using a food lure at your dog’s nose to help him change direction. This will make changing direction easy and automatic for the both of you.

Finally, stay relaxed. Try to breath and not hold your breath. Keep your arms and body relaxed. If you tense up when you see one of your dog’s triggers, they will pick up on that and think there is something to be concerned about. This probably the hardest thing for an owner to do, but one of the most important.

Good luck!

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