please help me

Share your favorite training tips, ideas and methods with other Positively members!

Moderators: emmabeth, BoardHost

Post Reply
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:47 pm

please help me

Post by helpmeandmydog » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:54 pm

my dog is scared of people, on a walk when she sees a person, her tail goes down and she will try to run away. walking her is not fun and we live in a busy area and people are everywhere, I had two trainers who worked with her, one trainer told me not to bring her anywhere, let her stay home. the other one told me to give her treats when she sees people, she is scared when she sees people and I hope I am not rewarding her for being scared. I have been doing this for months and she does not get better. I spent so much money on trainers but it has not helped her. I really want her to get better but I do not know how. It is hard to desentize her to people because when we go for walks, people are everywhere and hard to go across a busy street to create distance. I really do not like owning a dog like this, I wish she was different, what can I do?

Posts: 8894
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:24 pm
Location: West Midlands

Re: please help me

Post by emmabeth » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:12 pm

I think both these trainers had the right idea but they have not managed to explain it to you properly.

Give your dog a break from walks for a few days, even a week or two - instead of walks, train her with food rewards, do clicker training (check out the thread on this in the Articles section of the forum), play puzzle solving games with her (again check out the exercise and diet section as well as the articles section) - basically, get her thinking, enjoying working with you, earning rewards.

This will do two things - firstly her stress levels will drop. Every time she gets scared outside she gets stressed and stress STOPS her from being able to learn good things. Secondly, you will get her really tuned in to working with you, earning rewards, having fun. This will build her confidence in you, and in herself.

After you did that, THEN you start to counter condition, ie, you pair treats with the sight of the scary things, in her case people.

You need to find the distance she needs, from people, where she can see them and still accept and enjoy a reward - this may well mean that your first 'walks' are in fact spent by your own front door or on the front step or the path by your house, and you might need to pick times of day that are quieter. You will definitely need to keep these initial sessions down to just 5 minutes or so, no longer, but you CAN do several a day if your dog is handling it ok.

So the first stage of that would be to stand in your open doorway and every time there is a person in sight, reward her really well. Use a high pitched happy voice, keep the treats coming and DONT ask her to do anything other than see them and be there with you. Asking her to sit or down or anything at this point is too hard for her and it will just confuse her and make her more stressed.

If you manage to get her eating rewards and seeming pretty happy about a few people going by, stop there, go in, do something else for a while and repeat the session later on. You will NOT get faster progress if you insist on the full five minutes when she did well with just one or two minutes, so really be careful to end things BEFORE shes had enough (this is why you are starting out at your front door NOT in the street or going for an actual walk).

You will absolutely not be rewarding her for being scared - that cannot happen. I suspect the reason it isn't working for you at the moment is that shes still stressed and you have tried to do too much at once - this process will take you many weeks and it really is so important not to rush her. Do not expect a nice neat linear progression from being ok seeing one person to being ok seeing two, then three etc - it doesnt work like that. If she copes with one person, give her some rest and time off, try for one person again the next day or the day after. If she copes one day with two people, give her some time off and try for just ONE person a day or so later. Even good experiences are still stressful and if it helps, imagine your dog as a sort of water bottle for stress - good AND bad experiences fill that bottle up wtih stress and it takes DAYS for the stress to leak out and fade away, when the bottle gets full, she stops learning!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

Posts: 4885
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: please help me

Post by jacksdad » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:55 pm

Just wanted to pop in and as a fellow fearful dog owner (my dog is both people and dog fearful) to encourage you to give it one more go. The concepts that Emma advises are what I have used to help and make progress with my dog. Hang in there, you can do this. you can help your dog.

Please ask any question no matter how silly or small they may seem.

I am glad your reaching out and still looking to help your dog.

Post Reply