Nibbles update

Nibbles the chi-x who was confiscated from a home breeder, along with approximately 25 other dogs, continues to feel more comfortable with me. Along with counter conditioning, desensitization and training, I am big fan of going for walks in the woods with dogs. They appear to love it, and once I determine that my relationship with a dog is positive and I am relevant to the dog, I prefer to have them off leash.

Nibbles is still not completely comfortable having a harness put on him but I decided that the short amount of time it took, and the level of his discomfort was low enough, that is was worth the trade-off: Don’t wear a harness and long line and don’t come for a walk or wear the harness and line and get to come. I am hoping that by pairing the harness with going on walks, which he enjoys, it will begin to change how he experiences the process of having it put on. The harness will come to predict good things.

I do actually shut up and talk more to myself than to the dogs than this video would lead you to believe. I also do not play the ‘I’m going to get you’ game with Nibbles, even though at one point I say it. I do play it with my own dogs who are not afraid to approach me and have fun with it. Habits are hard to break. I don’t want to have interactions with Nibbles which give him more opportunities to run away from me, he’s already very good at that! When it is possible for me to call Nibbles and have him sit and let me get a hold of his collar, I probably would play chase games with him. It often seems as though he is trying to get me to play that way with him now.

Nibbles has been joining us routinely on our woods walks during the past week. He’s a confident, spunky, little dog who is proving to be a good companion on the trail. Little dogs don’t get much cuter than this and did I mention that he needs a forever home?

6 comments so far

  1. Jen on

    What a great video!

    Nibbles looks perky and unsure, but like he’s beginning to give you the benefit of the doubt. The treats help, of course 😉 It’s nice to see him frolicking about, he deserves it!

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks Jen! He’ll be a fun little dog for someone into bringing out his silly side. He’s quite confident in many regards. He spent a bit longer than I’d like out of my sight today when he got on the scent of something, but he came back to me eventually and for all I know, was aware of where I was the entire time. He is able to tolerate a bigger dog being a bit of a jerk toward him and when I went to put his harness on him he actually wagged his tail and licked my face. He still wasn’t offering himself up for the process, but he was definitely much more comfortable with it.

  2. Clementine on

    I am curious how you will get from this stage to Nibble’s not backing away from touch. But you are way ahead of me. My pup still gets nervous when I offer treats, (even if I toss them) so I look forward to the day when I can use treats as a reinforcement. Walks however, are a joy for all of us!

    • fearfuldogs on

      I use targeting with him to get him used to seeing my hand moving toward him and my body bending over. I can reach up under his chin and get a hold of his collar sometimes and practice doing that. It ends with a treat and I let go of him. I have to choose my timing with him. I do stuff with him when I’m lying in bed and he jumps up and joins me, or when for one reason or another I can see that he is not inclined to run away. It’s a habit and probably has some aspects of a reflex to it, so when it happens I try not to repeat whatever I did, wherever I did, whenever I did, so as not to give him more opportunity to practice it. Today on our walk when I needed to I was able to get his collar and put a leash on him.

  3. Donna in VA on

    Have you tried leashing a possible runaway dog to another dog that you are confident will come back to you when called? That wouldn’t work in the woods obviously. I am curious if you have ever used this as an option and how it worked out.

    • fearfuldogs on

      No, never tried that. It’s a lot to put on a skilled dog, the pressure on their leash to drag another dog around. I have leashed two of my dogs together using a leash system that worked that way, but I didn’t like it.

      I prefer to work with dogs off leash as much as possible, taking safety into consideration. If a dog is either not inclined to stick with me, or with other dogs, I would keep them leashed or on a long line. We can work off leash in an enclosed area to get the ‘return to me’ behavior.

      So much of the work we do with any dog is based on our relationship with them. Leashes are back-ups as far as I’m concerned for when the dog is distracted by something in the environment that we haven’t trained around, be it other dogs in a class or cars driving past. My dogs get leashed when we walk past the neighbor’s house where feral cats are fed.

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