Always used reward-based training methods. This technique motivates the dog to learn in return for rewards such as a small tidbit or a game with a toy. Never try to dominate or bully an older dog. Not only is this inappropriate, but with an unknown history it could be they associate harsh treatment with fear and it could make them more likely to become aggressive out of self-defense.
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My dog is very skittish because she is a rescue and is also pretty high anxiety. I don't know how to break this.
Hello Becca, To build Stacy's confidence and help her overcome her fears you can do a couple of things. First, spend time giving her treats whenever something scary is around. Act excited, confident, and silly yourself, like it's a game. Don't force her to check the scary thing out but instead check it out yourself, sprinkle treats near it or hand her treats if you can't sprinkle them. Praise her in an up beat tone of voice for any signs of courage or when you notice her thinking about something new, before she has decided to act scared. Does this to show her that the new thing is pleasant and not scary. If it's something she considers very scary, then start small and very gradually work up to the full experience of that thing as she grows in confidence through your treats and praise. For example, if she's afraid of a loud noise, then move far away from that noise and play fun games with her and reward and praise her while the noise is a small background noise. As she learns to tune the noise out then practice your training and fun a bit closer to the noise the next session or turn up the noise recording volume just a little bit. Do this until the normal noise is not so scary, but still be sensitive to the fact that she could become afraid again if you overdo it, so don't intentionally make things too loud in every day life. Also, spend time training her several times a week in fun ways. You can teach tricks, obedience, manners, or other things you think of, but the key is to spend time teaching her new things so that learning builds her confidence and grows her trust and bond with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My newly adopted dog was severely neglected for four years by a man. He was rescued when the man died. However, he is terrified of men and even of my gentle husband. Took Blackie to first group obedience class. First class my husband took him as we were told by our vet that this might be a good bonding experience while our dog learns basic commands. Blackie "froze" during this session. Both of us took Blackie and was told by the trainer that Blackie's aversion to men was permanent. She even said "I hope your husband didn't want a dog. She also said our dog was too old to learn quickly. Blackie came out of that class scared of both me and my husband.
Thank you for the question and I am sorry for the experience you had at the obedience class. It sounds as if this is not the training class for him (or you!). I do not agree that Blackie is too old to learn quickly - but I do know that fear as a result of neglect does take time to get over. However, it is obvious that you and your husband want to do what is best and help Blackie, too. I would speak to the vet and seek out a recommended behaviorist who understands and knows about canine fears and try a few sessions with them. In the meantime, always speak to Blackie in an upbeat voice and when you approach him, get down on his level (don't stand over him). Spend time in a room at home with him without asking for too much. Sit on the floor and offer treats of the most delicious kind and perhaps he'll come to you. Also, give him a toy like a Kong filled with dog-safe peanut butter (no xylitol!) for example and just let him enjoy it while you are in the room. Do this often and soon Blackie will look for the treat in his evening routine and associate you and your husband with good things. Continue to take him for walks where he feels comfortable. Give Blackie a space to call his own in your house, a soft bed with toys is a wonderful gift. Are you okay with Blackie sleeping in your room at night? This is often a way to help them feel secure and safe. All the best and enjoy your special friend.
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