Dog Obedience Training.
by Dennis Fisher.
NERVOUS DOGS - AND HOW TO HANDLE THEM
This article is one of a great many articles written by Dennis Fisher about a very wide variety of subjects concerning different dogs, such as obedience training, breeding, showing, health matters, training problems and other subjects. All these articles appear on Dennis Fisher's websites. Visit http://www.allaboutgermanshepherddogs.com the site that has been set up specifically for German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts, or http://www.freedogadvice.com if you interested in a breed other than German Shepherd Dogs
If you have a shy nervous dog you can take heart in the knowledge that it can definitely be trained, but it is going to take a lot of patience and effort on your part.
It can be a challenge, but it is very rewarding indeed to find that you have managed to transform a shy, uncertain animal into one that has a greater sense of self-confidence.
One plus factor about training a dog that is inherently shy, is that very often it turn out to be a first-class worker, devoted to its owner and anxious to please.
There are a number of reasons why some dogs are timid and shy. Probably the most common reason is because the dog was not socialized as a puppy. The age from 8 Ė 10 weeks is a critical time in a pupís life.
It is very important to take every opportunity to get the pups used to different - and to him Ė unusual situation and a variety of different people. At this age the pup is usually a very sociable animal. It is only afterwards, then the pup become a little older and aware of strange circumstances that shyness develops.
Of course, there are instances where even a very young pup of less than 8 weeks already shows signs of shyness and timidity. This is due to genetic factors. If you examine the pedigree of the pup youíll find that there are animals in his pedigree who were also shy.
Another reason why a pup may be shy is because of an unfortunate experience at a critical stage of his development.
It is no unknown for someone employed to clean the kennels of a young litter of pups to have been unnecessarily harsh in pushing the pups aside while cleaning.
This doesnít necessarily affect all the pups in the litter, perhaps only one or two that may have been naturally especially sensitive. Often these are very intelligent pups. As with humans, sensitivity is often associated with high intelligence.
How does one go about training a pup, or young dog, that exhibits timidity and shyness?
One important rule to remember is that on no account should you try and pacify the pup with baby talk, patting him and assuring him that there is nothing to worry about.
Your best course of action when you are with the pup shows signs of nervousness and reacts badly to an unusual situation, is to speak to him in a natural, matter-of-fact tone.
If the pup has had some training, try and distract him, not with food as this is counter-productive and give the pup the impression that you are rewarding him for his behavior.
Rather distract him with a toy, or a ball, or getting him to do something that he has been trained to do, for example sit. Do not give the command SIT in a harsh tone, rather in a matter fact tone ďSit my boy! Thatís a good dog!Ē
Very often the shy young dog is scared of strangers. This is very embarrassing when some kindly person wants to pat the dog or even give them a tasty morsel.
Try and avoid situations like this. If a stranger approaches, it is best for the shy dog to be ignored completely.
Encourage friends do this in order to help you with your training. Ask them not to have eye contact with the dog at all. Let them approach you and ignore the dog completely.
It is very important for the dog to initiate the contact and make the first move. Once the friend has approached you on a number of occasions and ignored the dog, ask the friend to surreptitiously drop a inviting piece of food next to the dog while continuing to talk to you, continuing to ignore the pup.
On another occasions, friends can hold a small piece of food in their hands and let the pup smell it and then take it from their hand. This can gradually progress to the stage where the dog will willingly take the food from the friendís hand when it is offered.
Donít introduce the pup immediately to a very busy environment like a shopping centre, rather take the pup to a place where there is a fair amount of passing traffic but not many people.
Perhaps a park bench may be a suitable place. Sit down on the bench and let the dog lie next to you watching people walk by. Go to the same park on a number of occasions so that the dog is familiar with the process.
Gradually extend the methods you used with friends. Approach strangers who may be in the park at the time, but do not have a dog with them.
Engage them in a short conversation. For example, ask the time, in a pleasant matter of fact tone. Then walk away. If they want to pat the dog, find a reason to ask them not to. Tell them, in a very pleasant manner, that you are training the dog to ignore strangers because of the danger of being poisoned, which is rife in your area.
Eventually, with a great deal of patience on your part, and a matter of fact attitude both in your voice and your body language, the dog will accept the fact that the strangers do not present any threat.
It is a gradual process and it does require patience, but if you persevere you definitely break the pattern and your dog will become far more confident.
Continue to train with basic commands, when you are out walking, like sit down, stand. Reward the dog with food when it obeys you instantly but definitely not when it shows sings of shyness.