One easy way to re-build your dog’s confidence after a stressful experience

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One easy way to re-build your dog’s confidence after a stressful experience

So I came home to a nasty surprise on Monday…

My poor puppy had obviously had a very upset tummy. I’ll spare you the details but I’m sure you can imagine!

The problem was that she had been in her crate at the time and had forced herself out in distress. Now I worked very hard with Aya when she was tiny to ensure that she LOVED her crate. I wanted it to be her safe space and she has always wandered in there for a nap a few times each day. As you can she was loving life..

 

I taught Aya to love her crate using the SHAPING method:

 

With shaping, we present the dog with an object/situation and wait for the dog to offer something. THEN we hone it to look the way we want it to. For example if you wanted your dog to stand in a box you would:

 

  • ** First present the box
  • ** Then reward for any interaction with the box (a glance towards or a step towards)
  • ** As they get closer towards the desired behaviour (maybe one paw touching the box) you would begin to only reward for these “almost got it” behaviours and stop rewarding for the glances, for example
  • ** Eventually (maybe after one session, maybe after a few) your dog will step inside the box.
  • ** Then they get a big, jackpot reward!
  • ** Gradually you would stop rewarding for all the incremental steps and only reward for the “perfect” behavior that you are        looking for (standing with all four paws inside the box)

You can check out this free video for a guide on how to get started with shaping:

 

I felt really sad to think that poor Aya had experienced something stressful in her “safe zone”.

YOUR DOG might have been scared by a loud noise in a pub say and then appear anxious next time you take them there.

Perhaps another dog went for them as you were leaving the park and then the next day they didn’t want to walk through the gate?

You need an action plan!

 

This is my action plan for Aya:

 

  • Remove the crate for 5 days
  • Reintroduce the crate in a new place in the house
  • Shape the crate from SCRATCH
  • Keep shaping sessions really short
  • Use high value food rewards and lots of praise for interactions with the crate
  • Watch out for any signs of anxiety and stop immediately before taking it back a few steps
I’m hoping I’ll see that big grin in the crate again soon!

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