Getting To Yes With Your Dog

Dogs who grow up in a home have dozens of opportunities a day to approach people and be reinforced for it. This means it’s a good thing from the pup’s perspective. They might get a treat, a cuddle, a scratch or the chance to tug on your shoelaces. Dogs, like my dog Sunny who spend their first months or years kenneled with little positive human contact may have had no opportunity to practice the “move toward human” behavior. For dogs like Sunny, moving toward people is not only something they’re not used to doing–they’re being asked to jump off the high-diving board and they can’t swim, they are also afraid of people and so the pool appears full of sharks.

In order for me to achieve my goal of being able to walk with Sunny off-leash I needed to be able to get him back on leash at any time. Since approaching me was still scary for him early on, I taught him to “wait” which allowed me to approach him and clip on the leash. It was a compromise that worked for us until he did feel safe enough and was able to learn a recall.

I continue to reinforce Sunny for stopping and waiting for me, and any other behaviors I would like to see more of from my dogs. Don’t take behavior for granted, pay for it.

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5 comments so far

  1. Blair on

    YES! This is the biggest point I reinforce when my friends ask for my advice on correcting or enforcing a behavior (IE Don’t chase the cat). So many people remember to correct their dog when they are MISBEHAVING, but so few remember to reward their dog when they are behaving the way we want! I think positive reinforcement was key when I was helping my dog get over her fear of strangers.

  2. Paula on

    Ziva will take treats from my husband when I am here but will not sit in his lap or let him pat her. She is very fearful of people in general. She is better if I am home but not much. I am thinking of putting her on some naturalpathic something that the vet recommended. Either a collar or spray, liquid. We keep trying everything to get her to deal with other people. With me she is a love

    • DZ Dogs on

      Your pup’s name is Ziva too? How fun! 🙂
      My Ziva also has some fear issues, we’re working on her trusting us through training her both with and without her brother (our older boy). We’re teaching her some tricks to help build trust and confidence in herself, bringing her as many places as we can to help socialize her to new situations through exposure, and considering doing a doggy agility course. I think she’d be a natural at it.
      Good luck with your Ziva!

  3. Mel on

    I never even thought about teaching Maggie that first. I thought it would be too foreign a concept for her. Geez. Kicking myself. Going to definitely try that one.

  4. fearfuldogs on

    I used a leash to prompt the “wait” behavior. We worked on it while Sunny was on a longline. I put tension on the leash, walked up to him, treated him and released. He will now stop when he feels pressure on the leash.


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