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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