I had a great time in Maine this past weekend offering presentations on living and working with fearful dogs. What was clear to me when I spoke to people was that the more you understand about the fundamentals of dog training, the better you’ll be at helping your scared dog.
One of the common mistakes that people make with their dogs is assuming that their dogs know and understand more than they do. If a dog happens to do the right thing as far as we’re concerned it’s a done deal, we stop training and rewarding the behavior and then are upset when the dog fails to perform it on cue.
As you are working with your dog it is probably safe to assume that you are not rewarding the behaviors you want soon or often enough. If you are not using a clicker or marker word you may be missing the boat entirely and your dog has no idea what the actual behavior is for which you are praising or treating them. It’s difficult enough for a fearful dog to think and concentration as is, why make it harder for them by being unclear about what you’re after?
I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is and spending five days at the APDT conference in California next week. For most of my life I’d been able to muddle my way through training my dogs, Sunny raised the bar for me. Since he has been so good about making the effort to learn and change I figure I’ll return the favor.
Be sure to visit www.fearfuldogs.com for more information about working with your scared dog.