June 8, 2014
"Dogs live in a world of sensory input: visual, olfactory, auditory perceptions. They easily perceive tiny details - a quick signal, a slight change in another's behavior, the expression in our eyes."(Turid Rugaas - Calming Signals - The Art of Survival)
People, other dogs (is that reactive dog really aggressive or is he afraid), touch (in certain spots or all over), sunglasses, vacuum cleaner, backpacks, other animals, thunder/lightning/rain, water, brooms, changes in the environment, cars, hoses, noises, lawn mower, hats, being alone, nail clipping, statues, flags, umbrellas, roller skates, shovels, towels, wheel chairs/canes/crutches, garbage trucks, baths/bathtubs, stairs, buckets, wheel barrows
"If only that hadn't happened,(Suzanne Clothier - If Only That Hadn't Happened, This Dog Would Be Fine)
this dog would be fine."
You just can't put a timeline on trust.
"'Threshold' is the sweet spot, the place where learning and thinking occur, where choices are possible, and where behavior changes (good ones!) can happen."(Suzanne Clothier, "Understanding Thresholds: It's More than Under- or Over")
Build the dog's confidence so he wants to narrow his threshold on his own, and will stay with you after he gets there.
Video: Local trainer and DOL Behavior Consultant Steve DeBono introducing himself to a fearful dog: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rVMi1kpqZoU
Before deciding on what action to take, assess the dog (maybe again) and try to determine:
Fearful dogs need to feel like they have some say in what's happening to them.(Kathy Cascade - Cascade Animal Connection)
Movement is important. Allow the dog to move; it gives her a choice in the situation. When a dog feels like she can move away freely, she will be more confident to approach.
Even in the shelter environment, there are some easy things you can do to help the fearful dog gain a little autonomy.
Keep sessions short; end on a positive note, even if it wasn't mind blowing
Give as much autonomy and freedom of choice as possible, given the situation.
Know when to let the dog set the pace, and know when to push and how much.
Allow the dog to move away as needed. Once a dog realizes he isn't trapped and has the choice to move away, he may be willing to work with you.
Look in the mirror: Are you ready for your date?
Are your keys/phone/etc away, hats/sunglasses/roller skates off, bags tucked, treats open, leash/harness untangled and ready to go?
Now you're ready to go (but go slowly!).
If he won't eat and you're pretty sure he would normally nom some goodies, you may be over threshold, your treats may not be high value enough, the situation may be too stressful, or he may already be full.
Find some other way to motivate him.
Maybe he won't eat your treats but he loves a toy or some other activity. Use that to make a connection instead!
Do these in kennel as well as out.
"Behavior Adjustment Training, or BAT, rehabilitates dog reactivity by setting up safe situations where your dog has a chance to learn about the dogs, people, etc. that trigger reactivity and helping her realize that she can meet her needs in other ways."(Grisha Stewart - Empowered Animals)
Link: How to BAT on a walk
"[TTouch] is widely accepted as a powerful method to improve behavior, enhance performance and health and teach a dog to learn willingly. It helps establish a deeper rapport and more effective connection and understanding between humans and their animals."(from What is TTouch?)
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