Given all the challenges facing dogs in regard to understanding humans, they do a remarkable job of it. Even without formal training most dogs figure out what their humans want them to do, when and how to do it. Imagine how much more a dog could understand if only we leveled the playing field for them and gave them more tools for understanding us.
If you are not familiar with the controversy regarding dominance based training techniques and why you should avoid trying to be the alpha dog, please review Dr. Sophia Yin’s information on the subject. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior also has their position statements available on the subject along with other important topics.
When you learn how to communicate with your dog using positive reinforcement you not only make it easier to live with your dog, you help the dog gain the skills and confidence it needs to function in a world of potentially scary things.
Any training class you attend with or for a fearful dog should use positive reinforcement. Aversive techniques could make your dog’s behavior worse. The whole idea behind learning to train your dog is to establish a common language that both of you understand and to let that communication solidify the relationship you have with your dog. Certainly you can get a dog to perform, or not perform certain behaviors by correcting or forcing them, but depending on how it is done, you may lose whatever trust your dog has in you.
Your dog may not be ready to participate in a training class but it may be a good place to start introducing your dog to the wide world, when it’s ready. You want a class run by a trainer who will make sure the other dogs and people in the room will not scare or bother your dog. Do not let anyone, a trainer or otherwise, do anything that upsets your dog. You may need to advocate for your dog even in training classes.
When you learn how to communicate with your dog using positive reinforcement you not only make it easier to live with your dog, you help the dog gain the skills and confidence it needs to function in a world of potentially scary things. Debbie’s online course is available to help you learn the most efficient and humane ways to train your dog.
Need more encouragement to use reward based training methods? Here’s one of many studies showing that animals learn new skills faster when rewarded for doing the right thing instead of being punished for doing the wrong thing.
For easier reading and more information about living and working with a fearful dog you can purchase a copy of A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog. For an even more complete understanding of how to help fearful dogs consider this online course.