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Help for Fearful Dogs
Do you have a scared, shy, timid or anxious dog? Below is a link that you might find useful to help your dog learn to become more confident. It is a great resource for information and support.
Training Your Dog To Be Social
The single most important thing you can teach your dog is how to be a social pet. By a social pet we mean one that is a pleasure to be around and doesn’t hinder you from doing anything or going any where with it.
Get the dog out in public. Especially with puppies and newly adopted dogs, the more things they experience now, the less of a problem it may become tomorrow. Don’t let your fears or hesitations influence the dog. Take the dog to places you want to go - the beach, the park, softball games, downtown. Go at the dog’s pace. If you see it becoming stressed or overwhelmed, back off a bit and continue tomorrow.
Establish acceptable manners. Probably the most effective position to teach is the SIT command. Have your pooch SIT for everything - a kiss, a treat, its dinner, a toy, etc. Encourage the dog to SIT as people approach or anytime it gets a little carried away with itself. Prevent the dog from jumping on approaching people by putting it into the SIT prior to contact.
Handle any problems instead of ignoring them. Be very realistic and honest with yourself. Don’t make excuses for your dog’s mis-behavior. Granted, he may have been friendly and well meaning as he lunged after the passing bike rider - but that’s no excuse to act out improper behavior. Understand the motives behind your dog’s naughty acts, but accept nothing but good. Enlist the guidance of a professional at the first sign trouble, rather than wait till it’s out of hand.
Become a social animal yourself. Surround yourself with other dog owners. Join a dog club, dog run, impromptu puppy playtimes at the park. Enroll in a group obedience or agility class, if for no other reason than the social aspects. You’ll soon find that people are very open and friendly when talking about their dogs. Use the dog as a great excuse to get off the couch and go for strolls through the neighborhood and other places.
Have fun with your dog and you’ll most likely have a fun dog!
Training and Exercising Your Dog Indoors
A tired dog is a wonderful dog. Most dog related problems are, inevitably, energy related. The more excess energy a dog has within its body, the body energy it will need to exert. Excess physical energy can sometimes even promote excess nervous energy. Always keep in mind that proper canine exercise should be, both, physical AND mental.
The ideal exercise for a dog would be hours of unfettered frolicking chasing a ball, going on a hike or basking in the sunshine. With the cold weather and short days quickly approaching us, this may not be possible. Here’s a few suggestions to help tire your dog when you’re stuck indoors.
Start making it a point, now, of making your dog SIT for everything it gets from you. Make ’em SIT for a treat, for a kiss, to get a pat on the head. Make ’em SIT-STAY (for a few moments) at meal times, between ball tosses, as you go from room to room or up and down stairs. Remember to keep it fun and upbeat – we’re doing this for exercise, not for controls.
Simply having your dog SIT and stay in the position for several minutes while you’re watching TV or surfing the internet can be wonderful physical and mental exercise. As you are sitting, place the pooch in a SIT between your legs facing out. Re-position the dog when it tries to lay down or go away. Start out having the dog SIT for 30 seconds and slowly build the time up to 10 minutes.
Any obedience can, and should be practiced throughout your home. Be spontaneous - suddenly command the dog to perform a command it knows. Keeping these practices very short and upbeat will keep the dog’s enthusiasm up.
Teach your dog a new trick. To teach “Shake” or “Paw” - have the dog sit in front of you. As you say “Paw”, pet the dog’s cheek, applying more and more pressure against its cheek. When the pressure causes the dog to lose some balance, a natural tendency will be for it to raise its paw. At first, a paw raised even a few inches should solicit a “Good Dog!” and a treat. Over time, you can build that few inches to “Wave” and “High Five” heights.
By combining the SIT and the DOWN positions one after the other, you can create “Puppy Push-ups”. Using a treat as a lure - start with a SIT and verbal praise then lure the dog DOWN (and praise). Now, (using the same treat) lure the dog back “UP” into the SIT (give the treat). As the dog gets the idea, you can increase the repetitions before giving the treat creating what will ultimately look as if the dog is doing push-ups.
Those of you with long hallways can use them for long static stays, “Come” command training and simple ball tosses. You have a flight of stairs? Toss balls and toys UP the stairs and let your dog chase them up the steps and carry them down back to you. Repeat until the dog tires of it. Those with single room apartments can try making mealtime exercise-time. Feed the dog its meal a handful at a time. Set these handfuls in different spots about the room. As the pooch is eating one handful, place the another somewhere else. You can create a search-type exercise this way.
Have plenty of chew toys, rawhides and bones available for the dog. Hollow rubber chew toys and sterilized marrow bones stuffed with such temptations as peanut butter, cheese, special treats, even bread can keep a dog gnawing away trying to extract the delicacies. Once the pooch tires of one temptation, add another to keep its attention.
If you happen to see your dog getting into a rut, laying around, nervous or edgy - DO SOMETHING WITH ’EM. If you have the dog you want - DON'T GET COMPLACENT - keep it vibrant and happy with plenty of worthwhile physical and mental exercise. Your dog’s exercise needs know no seasons. Have fun!
Our thanks to John McWiliams of Pawsitive Experience for his contributions to this page.
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