Robin was talking to a new, potential Home Dog Training client from Jefferson the other day. He had been working with his Sarah, his English Pointer for a few weeks and noticed that she was quickly becoming more and more fearful of him and his corrections. He had been “reading all the books he got at the pet store” and “watching all the Youtube videos” and just didn’t understand what was going wrong. He knew that it was important to let his dog know when she is doing the wrong thing, but she is now cowering when he corrects. His dog often runs and hides in the corner. He said he really doesn’t want to scare Sarah when he is trying to simply tell her “No”. He wondered what he could do.
Robin and I have often faced this situation where the client’s dog is overly fearful or has experienced a traumatic experience in his past. This is where a simple or even slight correction can cause a fearful reaction. As dog trainers, we never want to scare a dog to obey, we are trying to teach them what is the right thing to do and to build a positive relationship between the dog and the owner.
We suggest changing the action used to correct the dog. Remember, we still need to show him what is right and wrong…
We will also divert from the standard correction methods and use an alternative method to let the dog know he is doing something wrong. As opposed to a correction which we know isn’t working with the dog, we suggest an alternative method known as a redirection. Both the correction and redirection are implemented because the dog has done the wrong thing and both simply want to end up where the dog is giving the owner focus and is ready to learn. The redirection is simply far more passive and does not involve most of the actions that some dogs have predetermined as aggressive or fearful.
You first need to pug a leash on your dog during the day. Put the leash on and off him at random times so your dog doesn’t associate the leash with a particular event or time of day. There is no need for you to hold the leash during this time. Just let your dog walk with it around the house. This will eliminate the leash as a special event and turn it into “simple white noise”. For safety reasons, only have the leash on your dog when you are home and can passively watch him.
After a few days, your dog will be walking around the house with the leash and not think a thing of it. Now you are ready to begin to use the leash as a behavioral tool to correct and guide your dog to the appropriate action.
An example of how it works is as follows:
If your dog begins to act up and runs around the house or just goes nuts, don’t chase him or yell and scream. All I want you to do is to go to the end of the leash which is six feet away from your dog. Since you are not directly approaching him, you will not be adding to the adrenaline of the moment. Calmly put your foot on the handle part of the leash.
Your dog will stop and look back to see what happened. He is now wondering what happened because he thought he was in complete control and now he is stopped. He sees you and you and observes your body language of being calm, standing still, and confident that your foot is on the leash. This is what your dog expects in a good leader and teacher. You passively and almost unknowingly told your dog that he couldn’t run and go nuts and he needs to obey you because you are his leader and teacher.
I want to make it clear that you still told your dog “no”, but you allowed him to come to that conclusion by defusing the situation in a direction of your choosing. You broke his focus on doing the wrong thing and drained his adrenaline fueling his inappropriate actions. The bottom line is that he is now doing the right thing by your passive redirection away from the wrong thing.
We love this technique because it always works. Give it a try and see how well it will work for you.
We hope you will contact us at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help. We have answered a lot of our clients’ dog training questions at Best Dog Trainers Jefferson Georgia. Locate all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Jefferson Georgia.