Learning to like looming

I am trying to keep up with sharing the different things I am doing to help Nibbles learn to be comfortable with people. He’s a fairly solid little dog. He doesn’t have general anxiety or any phobias. It would seem that he is just lacking experience with people and the things people do with dogs, like put leashes on them and take them for walks or reach out to pet them or pick them up (the curse of small dogs). He’s had some experience so he’s not totally freaked out by humans, but not enough to immediately feel good about us.

Darting away or startling is a hard habit to break. For a dog like Nibs it’s practically a reflex. Heck, it may even BE a reflex. I want to give Nibs many opportunities to experience me reaching for him and NOT darting away. He can always move away if he chooses to, and sometimes he does. But he can also choose to move closer to me, and he does that too.

Most of the time when I am walking around the house Nibbles follows me and I ignore him. If I have to move in his direction I give him time to move away and turn my body slightly away from him so he doesn’t feel the need to flee. If I am sitting on the floor he will come up behind me and I can reach back and give his ears and chest a rub. I’d love to catch that on video.

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9 comments so far

  1. Sherron on

    Wow, thanks for this! I have a foster dog facing the same challenges. I will definitely give this a try.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Hope it helps Sherron. The preceding few posts have earlier work with Nibbles.

  2. Lizzie on

    Thanks for sharing these videos Debbie, very useful for owners like me who need to continue learning about how to help our fearful dogs feel better about being around people.

    After almost three years with Gracie she still shows little or no improvement around other people in or outside of the home. I have learnt however that even though she is a reactive dog, once the scary thing has gone, she does
    carry on, and behaves as if nothing has happened.
    I wish I could get a video of her behaviour when she encounters people, to show you. I’m sure that you would be able to educate me as to where I’m going wrong with her.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Lizzie you may not be doing anything wrong. Some dogs will NEVER like what scares them. We can teach them new skills for behavior when near a trigger and may be able to take the edge of their initial response, but at the end of the day, they are not going to invite them out for dinner. The most important thing is to do what keeps the dog feeling safe and limit in either duration or proximity, the exposure to a trigger.

  3. Mel on

    Extremely helpful Debbie. I will be trying this with Maggie. It is the hand movements you demonstrated that she reacts to most. When I do treat and retreat she is a bit tentative, but food motivated enough to work through it. It’s my hand movements she most fears. Thank you!

  4. […] Curious about looming and what Debbie Jacobs did to help her dog, Nibbles, become comfortable with it? I’ve attached the video here, but to read the whole story on Nibbles and looming, go to her post titled, “Learning to like looming.” […]

  5. cominghomerescue on

    Reblogged this on cominghomerescue and commented:
    Nice work with Nibbles!


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