Archive for the ‘fearful’ Tag

The Bad News About Fearful Dogs

drawing 3 children 2 covering eyes 1 covering mouthI am contacted regularly by people who have found themselves living with a fearful dog and looking for help. They are to a person, kind, compassionate, caring folks looking for answers. And I have them. But I routinely have to tell people things they do not want to hear.

When I mention that veterinarians and vet behaviorists can prescribe medications to help dogs who are anxious, something I do early in the conversation, some people are clearly upset. They paid me for information to help their dogs and I’m suggesting they consider putting the dog on drugs and they do not want to put their dog on drugs (few of us do and I am not saying they should, only making them aware of the option). Others will be relieved to find out there is something they can do tomorrow that could relieve their dog’s anxiety, the chronic startling or hyper vigilance, or the frozen immobility. They will be disappointed when I point out that though medications can be exactly what the doctor ordered for our dogs, there will still be training involved, and medications may need to be changed or dosages adjusted. There will be more effort required to get their dog to a happier place.

What worries me the most is that I know there are trainers who will tell people exactly what they want to hear. They will tell owners that they can fix their dog. What many owners don’t understand is that the way these trainers get rapid behavior change is because they are willing to do things to the dog that the dog doesn’t like. They will use pain, force or intimidation to get the dog to behave differently, and there’s nothing like pain, force, or threats of it, to get an animal to change its behavior. Sometimes it’s easy to identify that a trainer is scaring a dog. Trainers do not lack excuses for why this is required.

There are other trainers who will also use things that a dog doesn’t like or want to have happen to change their behavior but they either are sneakier in their explanations regarding how they are getting the dog to behave differently, more subtle in their use of coercion, or they don’t understand it themselves. They will label what they do with terms like; balanced, natural, functional, intuitive. They will talk about packs or how dogs get other dogs to change their behavior. They’ll call what they do adjusting, pushing or correcting.

That is the bad news about fearful dogs. The good news is that what I, and other trainers who understand how fear impacts behavior and how we can humanely and efficiently change it, have to say is exactly what owners need to hear.

-Keep your dog feeling safe. Do this however you need to. Talk to a vet or vet behaviorist about how you could best relieve your dog’s suffering.

-Make whatever you want the dog to feel good about become a reliable predictor of food or play.

-Find a trainer who knows how to train using lots of rewards to help your dog learn new skills that will help them feel more comfortable in the world they have to live in.

Look for educational seminars in your area about fearful dogs.

Because Why?

I don’t want to come across as someone who trolls the internet looking for other people’s websites, blog posts or videos to criticize. More often I try to ignore most of it. Sometimes it lands in my lap. The link to the video included in this post was shared with me by the manufacturers of a new product designed to eliminate anxiety in dogs. I understand why they’d send it to me and I’m always happy to learn about new products to help the population of dogs I care a lot about.

The first image in the commercial for a calming coat is of a trembling, scared chihuahua used as an example of the dogs the product can help. I understand why they’d do this, but I had to work to not start getting pissed off about it. Princeton is not just feeling camera shy, Princeton is scared. I get it. We all get it. While we’re getting it, and they’re getting footage, Princeton is scared. Why is it ok to scare a dog in order to sell a product? We don’t push old ladies down a  flight of stairs in order to film a commercial for a distress call product to use after they’ve fallen and can’t get up. We don’t sneeze on people to give them the flu so we can get shots of them for a nighttime flu-relief medicine. But for some reason it’s ok to put a dog in a situation that scares them so we can get the images we need, to sell something. Even if what is being sold is of value–people have been using wraps, ace bandages and tight T-shirts on dogs for years to help with anxiety–it only seems to lessen the disrespect for the victim (the real-life animal actor) slightly in my mind.

As the commercial continues a claim is made that the product works because it “simulates a mother dog holding its young.” Seriously? Have they ever seen a litter of puppies being held by their mother? I know that we live in a world in which one can say practically anything they want about dogs and be believed, but this is creepily Orwellian. The myths that dogs need pack leaders, feel shame after peeing on the rug, you should correct dogs by grabbing their muzzle because that’s what mothers do, have just been joined by “mother dogs hold their puppies.” In internet-speak my response is WTF?

I also take umbrage with the assertion that dogs who need daily medications or treatments will no longer need them if they wear the coat. Body wraps do not work for all dogs. If they do, fantastic. If they don’t, it’s better for a dog to remain on daily medications and treatments that are working. My comment (which has since been removed) on their youtube page did not question the efficacy of their product, but rather the claim as to why it worked. I mean come on, “hold its young.”

I asked them to provide me documentation regarding this assertion. I was told that it was tested and veterinarian-approved. OK, that’s great, I don’t want that test info or the names of the veterinarians who have approved it, I wanted to know where they got the information that young dogs are soothed by being held by their mothers. Bottom-line is that there is information out there that supports the use of compression for ramping down nervous systems. With a little homework they could have found it but instead resort to the all-too-common tactic of “making sh*t up about dogs.”

I notice that they didn’t use Princeton as an example of their product working its magic. Though he appears later in the commercial notice his tightly tucked tail, one of the easiest pieces of body language there is to judge how comfortable a dog is. Unless when being held by their mothers puppies also tuck their tails (I just made that sh*t up). The company sent me info about their product and my feedback to them has simply been met with repeated claims that research proves it works. My issue with their advertising is not that their product doesn’t work, but their claim regarding WHY it does.

People should stop thinking they can keep making sh*t  up about dogs and it’s ok.

*Thanks to a reader for pointing out that one of the dogs has an electronic collar on. Aversives are contraindicated for anxiety.

Shoring up the Foundation

targetWhen we ask a dog to do something in exchange for something they want it’s not about “no free lunches” or that dogs need to learn to work for what they want. Every organism on the planet, if they are going to be around for long already has this information. If they didn’t there would be no beaver dams, no mice caught by cats, no webs woven by spiders, no carcasses cached in trees by fisher cats, no acorns hidden away by squirrels. When we teach a dog to respond to a cue, rather then making them work for treats, or their food bowl, or an open door, we are making the world a more predictable place. The behavior of humans makes more sense to a dog when they are trained to respond to our cues.

When we use positive reinforcement to teach a dog behaviors we are infusing the whole process, all the pieces of it, from the appearance of the person to the performance of the dog, with “feel good.” We are the ones who label a particular behavior as “work” whereas for the dog it might just be sitting, fetching a ball, waiting or rounding up sheep. It’s something to do, and doing something is often better than doing nothing, especially when good outcomes are the result.

John asking Sunny to target his hand is not being used to lure Sunny closer, he had already shown he was quite happy to be that close. It was not to make him “work” for the treat. Asking Sunny to target his hand enriches the relationship between the two because the human’s behavior now has meaning instead of being a random, possibly threatening, gesture. It was a cue Sunny already had learned from me and performing behaviors to make treats happen is an enjoyable experience.

Build a vocabulary with a dog and you’ll be amazed at the conversations you can have with them.

Fostering Success

sheepGiving a dog an interim home while they are in the rescue system is a kind and generous act. Few who do it seem to realize how important the role they play is. It goes beyond providing a safe and comfortable place for a dog to reside while a permanent home is sought for them.

Though they are not pack animals, dogs are social animals. For social animals one of the most stressful events they can experience is the loss of their familiar social network, i.e., moving. Even if a dog appears to be happy and outgoing when they arrive in a foster home, we should assume that their level of stress is higher than it would be otherwise. Many dogs are able to cope with this and settle in with little trouble as they navigate their new surroundings and the expectations put on them by people and other dogs. But foster caregivers would be wise to consider how stress and relocation can impact a dog’s current and future behavior. Stress alone does not cause disease or inappropriate behavior, but it can contribute to the equation that produces it.

A dog who in their former life never put a tooth on a person or other dog, even though the opportunity existed, is less likely to do so in a new home than a dog with a history of biting, but add a healthy (unhealthy?) dose of stress and the odds that we’ll see this behavior increases. Within the shelter and rescue system people will look at a dog’s “bite history.” In many cases there are no opportunities for a dog to make an appeal once they have bitten a person or pet.

“But your honor he pulled on my ear and I have a raging infection in there!”

“She sat on me!”

“I was being threatened by another dog and the woman grabbed my collar.”

“I was eating that bone.”

“It was small, fluffy and ran right under my nose so I grabbed it.”

Foster caregivers have the responsibility to ensure that at the very minimum they do not add to the list of things that upset a dog, or provoke a behavioral response everyone will regret. One of the privileges I have is consulting with rescue groups pulling dogs out of shelters where many are euthanized. I see the important role that foster caregivers play. In some cases they literally save a dog’s life by providing a place for the dog to go when its time is up at an open-door shelter. This blog is one in a series which I will write addressing how foster caregivers can move a dog in transition away from the edge of the cliff, and avoid pushing them off, as they begin their journey to safety.

What It Takes

I had a call recently from a concerned owner with a service dog who was becoming more and more reactive to sounds and changes in her environment. The dog was described as “timid” even on arrival into the home of her new handler. I will not address the reality that someone trained and placed a dog to be a service dog in the community who was timid and wary from the get-go. I wasn’t joking when I told the owner that he was going to be his dog’s service human.

As the conversation progressed I learned that they were located in a town where I knew there was a good trainer. A trainer who understood how animals learn, who has studied and practiced teaching new behaviors to animals, who knew how to discern between her ability to teach a behavior and an animal’s ability to learn it. This latter point is important. As trainers it’s important for us to be able to see when our own skills are lacking and not immediately assume that an animal requires more aversive techniques to be trained. Or if we do decide that we need to move up the scale and punish a dog we consider which type of punishment we will use and how it might adversely impact an animal’s behavior. I trusted this trainer to be able to do that intelligently.

My faith in humanity is always buffed up a bit when I speak with people like this fellow. He had already demonstrated compassion toward his dog and was doing some of the things I would have recommended; jollying and playing with the dog when she was afraid (as opposed to punishing her or making her deal with what was scaring her). As we were wrapping up the conversation he told me that he would do anything to help his dog and if what one trainer told him didn’t work, he’d find another. And suddenly the conversation wasn’t almost over.

I understood what he meant, and in practice changing trainers may be the best thing to do especially if a trainer has recommended the use of punishment but in this case I knew that if what my colleague advised him to do wasn’t working, he should return to her to find out why. Often when a training technique doesn’t work it’s not because the technique itself is flawed, it’s the application of it or that the process requires more time. Trainers hear it almost daily, “I’ve tried everything and nothing works,” the implication being that someone’s dog is especially recalcitrant, stupid, or aggressive (and far too often the justification for the use of training equipment designed to hurt or scare a dog). In this day and age when we can all be experts in the trivia of practically everything thanks to the non-stop availability of television shows, it’s easy to think we actually know something.

Most of our dogs do not require the subtlety of surgeons when it comes to being able to be trained to be good pets. But add fear, anxiety or phobias to a dog’s make up and the skill required to help them increases. Doing something right becomes paramount because of the risks involved with doing it wrong. To assume that a technique a professional, force-free, trainer recommends isn’t working, or working fast enough and moving on to find the next magic bullet can be a mistake.

Being willing to do what it takes to help a dog is admirable. And on that list should be knowing whose advice you are taking.

Summertime

boy in chair surrounded by dogs he is training

The neighbor kid has enjoyed learning how to train dogs

For the past two summers I’ve been staying with my mum near Cape Cod. I know that having her youngest, and least fastidious daughter come and stay along with her four dogs is a challenge for her, but it’s a trade-off she’s had to make. Despite needing to spray the couch with Febreeze every day (Sunny’s preferred sleeping spot) I think she actually enjoys having them around. There’s no need to worry about whether she’s locked the doors at night. There’s not an icicle’s chance in hell that anyone would be able to so much as walk to the door, let alone actually open it without a chorus of barking. That chorus is another issue, but it’s getting easier for the dogs to end them when asked. Having a new home for the summer requires some adjustments for them as well.

Overall it’s been good. I have been able to see the skills they’ve developed and which need more work. There are more people coming and going and not only does that require more effort on my part to manage them it actually gives me the opportunity to practice the behaviors I want with them. Both Nibbles and Annie have learned to cut down on their initial barking and Nibbles has also learned that yapping and snapping after someone who gets up or walks by is not a good choice to make. I started by using lots of treats for recalls and sits and then added in a brief time-out (about 5 seconds alone in the bathroom) for infractions. Nibbles was a quick study but Annie has a more difficult time not voicing her opinion on things. Sunny is put in a place where he feels safe and where he cannot move toward people arriving.

A time-out is a form of punishment. We take away the dog’s opportunity for reinforcement (barking is very reinforcing for many dogs) by removing them from the situation and then returning them so they have the chance to behave the way we want them to for some other form of reinforcement, in our case it’s food. It can take a few trials for the dog to figure out why they are being walked off to the bathroom (or wherever you choose to put them) so don’t get frustrated or upset when you have to repeat the process. With Annie it’s a tricky one because if left there too long she’ll start barking to be let out, and I don’t want to have to deal with getting that to stop because I’m doing this when we have guests (which is why they are barking) so I’m juggling welcoming people into my home while I’m picking up leashes and leaving the room. But I would prefer to do this rather than shout at the dogs to shut up, which can also work. One reason is that I don’t like to yell and another is that I don’t want to make the association between guests and being yelled at for my dogs. So long as they don’t bark they are welcome to stay, maybe even get a treat or two from me or a dog-loving guest.

I hadn’t planned on writing a training post this morning. I wanted to share the photo of me in my rowboat (which we’ve had since I was a kid) along with rowboat in lake with 2 people and 2 dogs in itsome friends. Even Sunny managed to climb in for the ride. I also wanted to invite those of you who may not know about it to like the Fearfuldogs.com Face book page. I try to post something fearful dog related there every day for education and inspiration.

I will also be traveling this fall offering full-day seminars on fear-based behaviors in dogs and the most humane and effective ways to help them.

For my friends in the northern hemisphere I hope you are enjoying your summer and the living really is easier.

Training Treat

Earlier this week I had a two vet visit day. Two different dogs, two different vets. While waiting in the exam room in both clinics I helped myself to some of the treats available on a counter (good treats at that, not just biscuits). I tossed them around the room encouraging dogs to ‘go find it’. I often use the isolated, quiet time to work on different ‘tricks’ with my dogs. It gives both of us something else to think about.

As it turned out Finn the border collie had gained seven pounds since our visit 3 months ago! The vet was not concerned and only suggested he lose 2 of those additional pounds. To see me in the exam room you wouldn’t be surprised that he’d gained weight, with all the treats that were flying around. The main contributor to Finn’s extra pounds was more likely caused by a change in his food. Since our last visit I’d had a nutritionist come up with a diet for him and I’d need to cut back on it. This is something I am more than happy to do. Not only do I think it is healthier for a dog to be at a good weight, it saves me money on food. Nothing wrong with that.

Both the vet and tech were very good about distracting and rewarding Finn while he was palpated, prodded and poked. At one point the tech asked me, “Do you give him treats like this at home?” Her meaning being, “Are you always handing out so many treats?” There wasn’t time for a proper response so I left it at, “No, unless I’m trying to teach them something.” The fact of the matter is that with four dogs I am usually always trying to teach one or the other something.

I’m a training opportunist, rarely setting aside time solely for training, but incorporating it into our day. At some point a behavior should be ‘trained’ and treats no longer needed, and for the most part that is the case. Do I ‘need’ to have food on me to get behaviors from my dogs. Nope. There are dozens of times a day I ask my dogs for behaviors and only reward them with either my thanks or nothing- come, sit, wait, shove over, off the couch, leave it- all happen without being followed by a food reward, or even the chance of one, countless times.

The resistance to using rewards to train dogs remains strong. I often hear a hint of pride in an owner’s voice when they tell me that they don’t use food to train their dog. We all need to continue to work on behaviors we want to become proficient at. I doubt you’d hear a concert pianist say about a piece of music, “Oh I know that one, I don’t practice it anymore.” There’s always room for improvement and one way to get it is to reward it. My dogs may never learn that going to the vet is a treat, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a few when they’re there.

The Basics

pupI’m going to keep this one short and sweet. If you are working with a fearful dog you must at the very least understand the concepts of counter conditioning and desensitization.

Desensitization is the gradual introduction and increase in exposure to the things your dog is afraid of. The exposure is only increased when the dog exhibits comfort with the situation or object. Go too fast and you set yourself back by causing a fearful reaction to whatever you’re trying to get the dog used to. This usually requires more time and patience than people give it. When it doesn’t work they blame the concept and not the way they implemented it.

Counter conditioning is the pairing of something the dog is afraid of, with something the dog loves. It’s classical conditioning except that you’re changing a negative association to a positive one. It is done in combination with desensitization. If the dog cannot engage with whatever you’re using to create the positive association, food treats or a toy for example, then you are not counter conditioning. If your dog will refuse to eat a super favorite treat when someone is 4 feet away, then try having the person be 10 feet away and see what happens. The biggest mistake that people usually make is not having the reward be of high enough value, and using enough of it, often enough, to outweigh the negative feeling the dog has for its fear object.

Guest Blogger Roxanne Hawn

Fearfuldogs: Tell me about your dog Lilly.

Roxanne: Lilly is a nearly 5-year-old smooth coat border collie, adopted at 6 months old from a progressive humane society in Boulder, CO. She came in as a transfer. So, she lived in two shelters and a foster home before we adopted her. She passed all temperament testing with better-than-average scores even though she did show some shyness/fear. She lives with us and a nearly 9-year-old Lab/Greyhound mix named Ginko.

Lilly has always been fearful, which we’ve always worked on, but at around 2 1/2 years old (social maturity), she developed an extreme intolerance of other dogs. She decided that a good offense was the best defense. We’ve been working on that ever since … along with severe generalized anxiety/fear that I have only fully understood in the last year or so.

Our behaviorist says that if you combine genetics, a deprived puppyhood (poor socialization), and numerous illnesses (including parvo), you’ll get dogs just like Lilly again and again.

Our blog, Champion of My Heart, tells the tale of this once promising agility dog who is too afraid to run a course in front of other dogs. At home, she’s great.

I talk about nearly accepting we’ll never be good at agility, but the real story is what else I’ve learned along the way. Our working goal is a book deal, but having each other is what matters. Lilly is the most important canine relationship of my life.

Fearfuldogs: Was there a time when you thought twice about keeping your dog? If so why, and why did you decide to keep her?

Roxanne:
Never. When I first looked into getting help from a behaviorist, that’s one of the first questions they ask, and it made me think our situation wasn’t so bad, if my answer was no.

I’m a big believer in “Dog-girl, know thyself,” and as difficult as Lilly’s fears can be, it’s nowhere near my breaking point. I know from experience that one thing I cannot live with is a dog I don’t trust — a dog that shows aggression toward me.

I trust Lilly with my life. She is an amazing dog — smart, funny, loving, active. Do I wish she didn’t worry so much? Sure. Would I trade this experience for anything? Nope. She makes me a better person and an infinitely better dog trainer.

Fearfuldogs:
Have you had to modify or change your lifestyle because of your dog?

Roxanne: Before Lilly, my dog training experience was of the Petsmart variety (no offense). Now, I joke that I’m earning a Ph.D. in dog behavior from the University of Dogs with Issues, so in that way, she is a major undertaking. I spend a lot of time and money on consults, training, medications and such. Even with some financial shifts, like giving up weekly yoga classes (after 10+ years of study) to pay for dog classes, Lilly feels more like an improvement, not a sacrifice.

That said, until I find a boarding kennel equipped to handle a sensitive dog like Lilly, I do not travel.

The only other thing is that I cannot open the window over the sink in the kitchen. We had some windows replaced a couple years ago, and Lilly is afraid of them. I’ve successfully desensitized her to the ones that go up and down, but the one over the sink slides side to side and squeaks ever so slightly, even though we’ve oiled it, etc. If that window stays closed for another 10 years, I’m OK with that.

I’m sure there are other things that have become so normal I can’t think of them.

Fearfuldogs: During the time you’ve had your dog what has been the most exciting improvement in her behavior you’ve witnessed?

Roxanne: We took a long break from weekly group classes (advanced pet dog training), when we began working with a behaviorist from Colorado State University in July 2008. After avoiding drugs and trying all manner of holistic options, our current plan includes medications (clomipramine & alprazolam) and detailed, regimented behavior modification work, mostly in the classical conditioning model.

I learned I had been doing far too much operant conditioning (trying to get Lilly to act her way out of being afraid), rather than trying to change how she feels first.

We attend a group class, outdoors in various locations, about once a month now. A couple of times recently, other dogs accidentally challenged her, but Lilly handled it beautifully and with restraint.

The first one, a young, rambunctious lab, who lives with a training pal of ours, came flying toward Lilly flapping a weasel toy. Lilly was working off leash at the time. When she glanced up and saw him running toward her, I said, “Leave it.” And, she did, going back to work.

 Funny enough, after she headed toward me as the second part of the exercise, the pup came racing back the other direction. He would have bowled her over, but she waited for him to run past and then continued toward me, stopping perfectly into a down … just as I’d asked before the encounter began. 

It was the cutest thing. Lilly had this look on her face like, “Look at this goofy pup.”

The key was that he was more interested in the toy, than Lilly. I always tell people that Lilly doesn’t mind other dogs as long as they don’t pay attention to her.

Then, a few weeks later, a young, pushy German Shepherd got loose from her owner and came flying at us at class. This dog arrived wearing a shock collar, which our trainer won’t allow and which, I believe, is telling.

I was giving Lilly a break when the dog ran up, so Lilly was up on a big rock at the time. Lilly shot off one warning bark, dropped her head, and offered a convincing show of teeth. The dog did not relent. So, Lilly jumped down and offered another stiff-bodied warning, where she gave her best Border Collie Eye (intense stare). The dog did not relent.

So, even though I think Lilly was justified in her correction, I stepped between them, and Lilly and I walked away. The dog followed, but we kept moving away. Eventually, someone got her, but I kept Lilly far away from the group for several minutes to give her recovery time. She was upset, but bounced back.

After class, our longtime trainer (the only one who didn’t give up on us) said she felt like it was a huge breakthrough for Lilly to handle a challenge like that with such poise. Even weeks earlier, she felt the encounter would have been awful.

Other classmates, who’ve known us for years, also say Lilly seems like a different dog. So, while it’s hard for me to see the change day to day, others notice.

It’s a long story, but Lilly has a best-best dog friend named Katie (a young, wild Borzoi), who nearly became our third dog recently. Katie has amazing dog-dog savvy and helps Lilly practice her dog-relationship skills.

30-SEC VIDEO of LILLY & KATIE

We blog at least five days a week. On Fridays, we always post a training update, for those following our saga.

Fearfuldogs: If anything was to happen to you, what are your plans for your dog?

Roxanne: I’m married, so my husband would take care of Lilly if something happened to me. While he doesn’t do the hands-on training, he knows enough about the methods to keep her happy and safe.

Fearfuldogs: Where does your dog spend most of her time?

Roxanne: At my side. As a professional, freelance writer, I have the luxury of working at home. So, we’re pretty much together all day, every day. She usually stays in my office with me, either on a bed under my desk or on her doggie sofa near the windows. We often let both dogs snuggle with us for a few hours at night, before they head to their crates to sleep.

My husband works at home too, so especially in the summer, we work outside and hangout with the dogs.

You might think this means Lilly is a prime case for separation anxiety, but I’m happy to report that’s one fear she does not have. She’s completely fine being left alone in the house or in the car (when weather allows).

Fearfuldogs: Thanks Roxanne! Be sure to check out Lilly’s updates at http://www.championofmyheart.com/

Thinking is Good!

Studies have shown that thinking and learning can slow or even reverse the effects of aging on the human brain. Learning new skills, like playing the piano or line dancing, doing crossword puzzles or brushing up on quadratic equations, is important for humans at any age. It seems that the axiom, ‘use it or lose it’ is true for our minds.

Sunny with basketballI thought about this when I began my journey of working with Sunny. When he first arrived he spent all of his time in a corner of our living room, too afraid to move. After spending all of his life in a pen with other dogs, his brain had not had the chance to develop in the same way my other dogs’ brains had. He was also displaying ‘learned helplessness’ meaning that nothing he had tried to do to escape his situation had succeeded so he stopped trying. It was heart wrenching to see and I wish I had given him a more comfortable place to hide in, but I was still acting on training advice that dogs should not be comforted when they are afraid. It is the biggest regret I have in how I have worked with Sunny over the past 3 plus years.

I decided that movement should be a part of his rehabilitation. It began slowly, with me enticing Sunny to go after a tennis ball I rolled past him or out into the room. My border collie Finn and old cocker Bugsy, helped infuse the activity with positive excitement, running after the ball themselves. In time we were able to move on to a harness and long line for walks down the dirt road or through the woods.

When I finally let Sunny off the leash to join the other dogs in their explorations of the scents and other delights of the forest, it was a joy to see him behave exactly as a dog should, with enthusiasm and curiosity, his brain processing new information and hopefully becoming better at it. At home I began to work on providing him with novelty in ways which did not frighten him. Many fearful dogs find any changes in their environment scary. I used different bowls to feed him, moved his water dish to accessible but different locations, introduced new toys, and began working on targeting.

Think about ways you can add new experiences to your dog’s life with the goal of arousing their curiosity, not their fear.