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Sunday, May 26, 2013

When I Correct Wolfie and He Cowers, What Then?

I know that I need to tell Wolfie that he is doing something wrong and I am not hitting him or using those shock collars on him, but he is still cowering and hiding in the corner.  I don't want to scare my dog every time he is doing something wrong, but what can I do?



We have faced this situation many times where the Wolfie is overly fearful or has experienced a traumatic experience in his past were a straight correction, even slight, can cause a fearful reaction.  As dog trainers, we are not trying to scare a dog into obedience, we are trying to teach them what is the right thing to do and to build a positive relationship between Wolfie and his owner.

So, let's clean the slate of all those other correction methods and figure out what we can do with Wolfie.  Remember, we still need to show him what is right and wrong...

The bottom line is that we want to use an alternative method than the standard correction to let Wolfie know he is doing something wrong and we will teach him what is right.  As opposed to a correction which we know isn't working on Wolfie, we suggest an alternative method known as a redirection.  We still want to tell Wolfie he is doing something wrong and to teach him what is right, but we will use a more passive method.

First, you need to get a leash and click it on Wolfie during the day.  Take the leash off him and put it back on at random times so Wolfie doesn't associate the leash with a particular event or time of day.  You don't need to hold the leash, let him drag it around with him.  This will eliminate the leash as a special event and turn it into "simple white noise".  Please remember, you can only have the leash on him when someone is home and within earshot of Wolfie.  If he gets it caught on a chair leg, you must be able to release it quickly to no harm will come to Wolfie.

After a few days, Wolfie will be wandering around with the leash and will pay no attention to it.  Now you are ready to begin to use the leash as a tool of behavior modification through redirection.

Here is an example of how this works:

If Wolfie starts to act up such as running around the house like a crazy boy, don't chase him or yell and scream.  Simply approach the end of the leash which is six feet away from him.  Since you are not directly approaching him, you will not be adding to the adrenaline of the moment.  Calmly put your foot on the leash.

Wolfie will stop and look back to see what happened.  He thought he was in control of the room and could do whatever he wanted (run and go nuts).  For some reason, he lost control.  He sees you and you are calm & still, not approaching him, and standing tall.  This is what Wolfie expects in a good leader and teacher.  You passively told Wolfie 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 Wolfie "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 end result is he is now doing what you want him to do.

There are many other nuances to this technique and we would be more than happy to review your specific issues to determine if this educational process would be most appropriate in your situation. For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

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