Dog Training – Help The Scared Dog!
In the last blog I talked about how a dog becomes scared of things. This time let’s look at what you can do to help the scared dog, more importantly how to teach him that he need not be scared at all.
Depending on the level of fear that your dog is suffering from you may find some kind of herbal supplement useful whilst you teach him that he need not be scared. You can find a few types of harmless and plant based remedies right here.
The next thing to do is teach your dog that fear is not scary and you can do this by a process known as counter conditioning. In dog training terms conditioning means learning from the environment. Counter conditioning means leaving that learning behind, or simply undoing it in a way that benefits the dog.
Counter conditioning can be carried out by teaching the dog to associate something that he is scared of with something that he really likes. Here are some examples:
- The dog that is scared of passing cars gets to play tug on a rope toy every time a car goes by. Eventually the dog will look directly to you for his toy when he hears the car coming. The toy will soon replace the fear of the car in his mind.
- The dog that is scared of entering the house, maybe because a smoke alarm went off in the home, is given treats as he walks through the door. This approach is counter conditioning the dog’s fear by teaching the dog that going through the door of the home means lots of tasty food. After a few attempts and assuming the smoke alarm stays silent the dog will see the act of entering the home as a process which satisfies his taste buds.
- The dog that is scared of people learns to accept being around new people by a process of being ignored by strangers yet fed treats by his handler. The dog learns to look towards his handler when scared as opposed to looking towards the things that he is scared of. Eventually this dog, assuming that no well-meaning stranger crowds him during the process, will know that strangers only equal food from his handler.
If your dog is scared of something then it’s important to try and work out exactly what he can cope with and adapt your training to respect that. Start at a level within which he can act almost normally. For instance if your dog is scared of cars there is no point taking him along to a busy dual carriageway and waving his rope toy around. Start on a country lane and build up otherwise all you are doing is making the fear worse. This is an old dog training process called flooding and best avoided.
Now things are actually a lot more complex that I have explained here and I don’t suggest that you take this information alone and run with it for anything but the most basic fear. It’s a good idea if your dog is seriously scared to look at counter conditioning in more detail or find a qualified dog trainer to help.