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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Training Tuesday - A new strategy for encountering strangers and their dogs

As many of you know, Shyla has a very hard time with meeting new people and dogs because she's afraid of them. I've tried many different strategies for meeting people and dogs on trails over the years, and none has worked.

I'm currently working with a great trainer who has suggested a new approach. When we meet people and dogs on trails, I have Shyla go under my legs so that I can "squeeze" her between my knees. So far, it's working like a miracle. Shyla is so much more relaxed in these situations!
Note her small "Marco Polo" radio collar that lets me find if she ever runs off
Having her go under my legs serves three purposes. First, Shyla feels very protected by me. Second, dogs don't approach her when I'm standing over her. That surprised me! How wonderful not to have groups of dogs surrounding Shyla very closely. Third, it may be a little like the calming effects of being "squeezed" that Dr. Temple Grandin has written about.

At this point, I have to initiate it, getting a hold of Shyla and standing over her. It would be far better if she eventually learned to get into what we're calling the "under" position whenever we see people. To that end, we've been doing some training.

I thought that you might enjoy seeing a very short session that we did the other day. In this very early training session, I always started with my back to her. As of today, I could face her, and she'd run around behind me to get under my legs. Yipee!

You can watch the short video here or at Youtube.

29 comments:

  1. You are so dedicated to helping her overcome her fears.
    With all the work you put into her may this work out to be the
    best solution and she can overcome her fears.
    Love how you praise her for a job well done.
    xo Astro

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  2. I am so glad for both of you that you found a way to protect her. she is so very smart.. now both of you can enjoy your walks much more. great idea

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  3. I wonder if this would work with Torrey and her leash reactiveness. If I get her to sit, and watch the other dogs walk past she is fine. Otherwise she lunges and snarls which seems to be getting worse.

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    1. It seems worth a try. Be sure to firmly squeeze her with your knees and practice in an on-scary situation. Then try it at a comfortable distance from other dogs if you can.

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  4. What a wonderful idea! You and your mom are such a smart team, Shyla! Mom says that she's going to teach me "under"☺

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  5. Hari OM
    ...well I never... angel Jade and I used to do this, but just because we both liked it; had no idea there might be a wider implication! She was actually very good out on leash, but there are always one or two who might spoil the party and it never occurred to me that she went under my legs for anything other than comic effect - in fact, if am honest, I thought it was her idea of protecting ME!!! Whatever; it worked and am so glad to read and see this in action for you both. YAM xx

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  6. Well done! I used to be a dog walker. I generally tried to keep strange dogs away from any dogs I was handling, because you just never know how a strange dog will react. I'd always get between the stranger and the dog I was walking. But with your own dog, I think your method is way better.

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  7. That is so great! I've never heard of that technique before but it certainly seems to make sense. I'd love to try to get Luke to do this too, and see if it helps him remain more calm when strangers are around.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Great idea. Denise Fenzi suggested this and I'm her first test of it. I hope that Luke likes it!

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  8. That is a very very good idea. You are a great momma. stella rose

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  9. I so enjoy hearing you talk to Shyla, and she is so responsive.I can see her love for you. A great way to give her the reassurance in those situations.

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  10. Sweet Meila is also leash reactive. I want to try this. It seems it is also another way for her to tell me she is anxious and wants reassurance. On a city street it can be difficult when she decides it is time to run home.

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  11. Very cool and it seems very wise too!

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  12. Thanks for sharing this - fascinating! There are so many ways to help reactive/fearful/anxious dogs; we love it when you share what has (and hasn't) worked with Shyla. [And I (finally) remembered to watch the video on Youtube and "Like" it].

    Cheers,
    Chris from Boise

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  13. What a great time to use that! Me? I love going between my mom's legs like that and getting chest scratchies! So does Cam. We both picked our heads up when you said, "Good girl!!!"
    Yours sincerely,
    Margaret Thatcher

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  14. OH, that is a great tip. We are going to try that with Lightning. It may help with his meeting new people, but not much with bikes:(

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  15. That’s a pretty handy trick! Blueberry isn’t fearful like Shyla but she doesn’t like it when other dogs or people approach. The easiest way to avoid that is for us to walk off the trail and wait for the traffic to pass. Blueberry now automatically veers off the trail when someone approaches. She feels safer and so do I and she also knows she will get treats so her focus is on me. I love that we all come up with our different ways of helping our dogs cope to keep hikes and walks fun and as stress free as possible!

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  16. OMD, I've been doin' that with Ma since I was a wee lass! I looooooves goin' between her leggies! sometimes for scratchies, sometimes just to run through and do 'zoomies' between them, sometimes just to stand and be weird. This is a pawsome idea! this might work with my barkin' at strange doggies!
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

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  17. Wow, that is cool! Hopefully the results will pay off!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  18. This is great!!! We have learned something similar at class to use at the trials. We call it the squish position whether it is to our side or against our front. The point is the same - we are not to let anyone approach if they are in that position and they learn it is a safe place to be
    hugs
    Hazel & Mabel

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    1. Trials are where my teacher got this idea!

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  19. That is a great idea for feeling safe! Sometimes a fresh trainer has great ideas. We train with different trainers to get different perspectives on things.

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  20. Makes sense and I hope it works out perfectly!

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  21. Thank you for sharing that KB!!!
    What a wonderful idea,, and it works!
    love
    tweedles

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  22. That's a great idea, and she is learning pretty well. I think this is something I will work with my dogs on. Not that Delilah wouldn't defend herself, but I'd prefer she not have to.

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