It’s been awhile since I’ve given any updates on Nibbles, so here’s a quickie. Nibs is doing great! He’s still not 100% comfortable with people, and he likes to bark at them too much, but we continue to work on it, and he continues to improve.
This week the dogs made a new friend, a neighbor boy had started barking at the dogs, causing them to go nuts in return. I would simply call the dogs back to the house to end the game. One day I decided to grab my treat pouch and go up and encourage the boy to keep barking while I tossed treats to the dog, decreasing their barking, until the kid could bark and the dogs would just look at me.
The boy asked if he could play with the dogs and I let my border collie out of the yard to play frisbee with him, which both loved. The next day I had the boy come into the yard and showed him how to toss treats to the scared dogs, and reward Annie for doing tricks. Later that day the boy returned with some of his left over chicken pot pie to share with the dogs. Today we headed to the waterfront for more games and a good time was had by all.
When you use positive reinforcement for training dogs, especially dogs with any amount of fear of people, you do more than teach them tricks. The dog learns that by offering behaviors to people good things happen. This helps them reframe how they feel about being around people. In this case the human is learning about how to get behaviors from dogs without needing to say a thing.