How To Train The Shy, Insecure or Fearful Dog

Shyness and fear behavior in dogs comes from insecurity.

Your dog’s insecurity can be caused by several factors:

  • A genetic disposition toward insecurity
  • Lack of early socialization
  • The owner not providing clear leadership
  • Traumatic past experiences

But regardless of the cause of your dog’s insecurity– believe it or not, the solution to fixing this type of problem behavior is fairly easy, using the right techniques and a little bit of patience. These are the five points that are crucial to understanding how we professional dog trainers cure the shy, insecure and fearful dog. Use these and you’ll see 80% of your dog’s insecure behavior vanish in less than two weeks, and in most cases completely disappear after three months:

1. As with any dog, the first step is to establish yourself as the pack leader. If you are not the pack leader, then your dog has no reason to trust you or listen to you. And if he doesn’t feel he can trust you, then he won’t ever learn to relax and be confident with his environment.

The way to establish yourself as the pack leader is two-fold: First, start using our “Nothing In Life Is Free” approach. (I go into more detail about this, earlier in the book). And second, start teaching your dog obedience exercises: Sit, down, come, heel, boundary & perimeter training and stay. Obedience exercises help teach your dog that you are the pack leader (after all… you’re making him do behaviors, not the other way around) It also teaches your dog to trust you.

2. Do not coddle your dog. Do not try to reassure your dog that, “everything is going to be okay.” Coddling your dog does not help. The dog perceives it as reassurance that he’s doing the right thing: Acting afraid! Instead, make a bid deal when he’s acting confident in a situation where he was formerly showing insecurity.

3. Make Your Dog “Work Through The Fear” Owners frequently think that because the dog is showing fear or insecurity, they need to stop making the dog do what they’re asking. The opposite is actually true: Dogs get over their fears by doing the behavior. Make your dog “do it.” Not with force or aggression, but rather with calm firmness and directness. When I work with an insecure dog that doesn’t want to climb up on a step, I adopt a, “Hey… it’s no big deal. Here’s what you do.” And bang! It’s over and done with, before they know it. They’re up on the step. Then I bring them down off the step and make them do it, again. The important take-away here is: I’m not giving the dog a choice. They’re going to do it, and then they’ll realize that whatever I’m asking them to do is really not so bad. You can’t reason with a dog. They have limited use of logic and reason. They learn through action. They get over their hang-ups that way. We probably do, too. We’re just too dense to realize it.

4. Repetition Builds Confidence. Make your dog “do it.” Then make your dog do it, again. And again. And then again, in a different environment. A hundred times. Two hundred times. Repetition builds confidence. Soon, you’ll see your dog realize this exercise is familiar. And familiarity builds confidence. It doesn’t matter what behavior you’re working on getting your dog to overcome: It can be sitting while people walk past. Or walking over a man hole. Or coming when called. Repetition builds confidence.

5.  … read the rest of this article in Adam’s “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” 


Which Came First, The Trainer or the Dog?

By Shelley Crawford –

Think back ten thousand years ago. Before some lone wolf began to make the miraculous transformation from being a predatory wolf into being a domesticated dog. The dog we all know and love as man’s best friend used to be the big bad wolf. One of man’s worst enemies and to some people still is. Scientists think this may have happened when one of our distant ancestors found an orphaned wolf puppy. Maybe one of these ancient humans thought it was cute, as a puppy. Maybe they thought they’d fatten him up and eat him. But, as luck would have it for the pup, he ended up being a better asset than food. It’s hard to say. I’m sure there are many studies this topic.

When that fateful first human/wolf encounter took place it was the start of a beautiful friendship. There’s a first time for everything, right? This was also when the first dog trainer was also born. To domesticate a wild animal is a huge undertaking. Imagine training a lion or say a giraffe (just for fun).
Some where along that journey we humans figured out some animals adapt better to our human needs and the wolf pup fit the bill. How did early man learn to domesticate the wolf? They didn’t have training books or classes or crates, leashes or prong collars.

Fast forward to today. Dog lovers, in some respect, all end up becoming dog trainers of sorts. “If you don’t train your dog, he’ll train you”. Lloyd, an old dog trainer friend of mine used to always say. That would be a what I like to call a “Lloyd-ism”. An “ism” is something that another person has said that is unique of that person and sticks in your brain forever.

I have many people to thank for my “isms”. The many trainers and dogs I’ve met along my relatively short journey learning how to train dogs. One trainer friend of mine is Sandi. My favorite “Sandi-ism” is her bit about, “Your dog can hear the fridge door open from across the house, and you think he can’t hear you say “Sit”?” She says this when the owner/handler repeats the “Sit” command over and over, louder and louder. Sandi is my “Positve Only” method trainer/teacher/friend.

Conversely, the one person who have to say would be my “go to person” for any problem, any dog, any age any, breed is Kandi. Kandi is a no nonsense, get the job done trainer. She is hopelessly in love with dogs. Most of my “isms” are “Kandi-isms”. She is the one person who has taught me more than all the dog training books, DVD’s or training seminars combined. Kandi is the one who transformed me from an owner/handler into an honest to goodness dog trainer. My favorite “Kandi-isms” mostly all relate to prong collar training. I used to be one of those “All Positive Only” method dog trainers. I used to beg to differ all dogs could be trained with, then weaned from, treats. Boy was I wrong. I’ll go into that later.

Kandi and I met about ten years ago at a time in my life when I had a very successful landscaping business in South Florida until 9/11/2001 changed everything for me and my business. Before 9/11 dog training was the last thing I had on my mind. I was working long hours landscaping. My house was broken into twice and I just wanted a big trained dog. I dropped off Jett, my newly acquired one year old boxer male, at the kennel for 3 weeks obedience training. I had good faith that this kennel would care for my dog. Prior to this Kandi and I had never met. I met her briefly a few times at the kennel during visits to watch another trainer work Jett. I had no idea she was actually the trainer for Jett. She never got credit for the wonderful work she did. Some other trainer did.

About a year later I ran into her. She didn’t work for the kennel anymore due to the deplorable conditions the dogs were kept in. I had no idea about this. The working conditions for the trainers were no better. She has withheld the awful things that happened to Jett during his 3 weeks spent at the kennel for training. I’m grateful to her for that, to this day. Kandi and I became friends and have been friends ever since. We talk on the phone like sisters just about every day.

At another critical moment in my life I realized “Positive Only” methods may work for some dogs. I got Panzer, my boxer puppy, through a breeder on line. I expected an easy time of it with an 8 week old puppy. I had a clean slate. I had experience training dogs using all “Positive Methods” only. I didn’t believe in using the prong collar. That’s not how I was trained to train dogs. But Panzer was a very different dog. This dog was a bugar bear (Kandi-ism). Panzer was a very difficult puppy brought into the house with Jett, now a senior dog. Jett had been known to become (shoot to kill) aggressive if provoked by another dog.

Shortly after I got my boxer puppy, Panzer, I fell at work (landscaping) and broke both my knee and my arm. I couldn’t walk or use my right arm. Here was Murphy’s Law again. Panzer was 14 weeks old and doing “Mary Lou Retton” gymnastics all over the house. He jumped, tore clothing, snarled at my 2 chihuahuas and more. He was basically a holy terror on wheels. Panzer was getting bigger and stronger and his behavior was getting worse. Jett was going to end up killing Panzer. I couldn’t do much about it because of my injuries.

I called Kandi. I explained to her my predicament with Panzer. I decided to drop him off at Kandi’s boarding school which is a 4 hour drive from where I live. She runs a training program from her home. A perfect way to solve my problem. Panzer was both on leash trained with the prong collar and off leash trained using the e-collar by Kandi. By the time I picked Panzer up my knee was nearly healed. Although still a puppy and still a bugar bear, to this day, he is a million times more behaved. I was healthy enough and ready to take him on again. Only this time using the prong collar. What a difference the right tool and the right trainer can make. I’ve trained him to do a lot of cool stuff since then. None of which could have ever happened using a pocket of treats.

I used to be “All Positive” until I had to deal with Panzer. Kandi had to pull all kinds of tricks out of her hat from her years of experience in horse and dog training. I didn’t have that kind of experience. She had fixed Panzer to the point where I could take the leash back and move forward with his training. Although I still have to reinforce Panzer who’s now 2 years old. Reinforcement is for life. He’s still the same bugar just with a lot of training. From Kandi, I learned that treats just don’t cut it when it comes to training “hard” dogs . Since then I’ve done a complete 180 degree turn around and changed my entire training philosophy. I’ve learned to use the most appropriate method for each individual dog. I learn new things every day. I continue to strive to learn as much as I possibly can to help as many dogs and their owners. Much thanks to Kandi.

At what point do we learn to “train” our dogs verses “handle” them? How did the first trainer of the wolf puppy know how to train it? Who taught her/him? Or did the wolf train us to give him a warm fire and a scrap bone by being dutiful willing servants a.k.a. a dog not the predator wolf?

Some of us are born with a certain gifts. Some of us learn from many sources and sift what works for us. We all learn something from just about every person we encounter whether they train dogs or just have a problem with their dog. Sometimes it’s the dogs who teach us. That’s what makes such a great resource. It’s like having a support group for training dogs with issues. The best way to learn is to learn from other trainers and that learning never ends.

There would be no dog with out a trainer. There would be no trainer without a dog to train. So, which came first the dog or the dog trainer? I think Kandi knows.

Your Dog Is A Snapper

By Suzi Jones –

She was non stop woo woo woo woo just not bark bark bark. But what did work hella is body blocking as in the case of my husband. He enters and every time she tries to come into my zone I walk into her and block her. This seems to quiet her an awful lot as this is me taking ownership over him.

My friend Christa did something weird with her dane Yankee years ago ( 7 to be exact), he was acting an ass while out walking one day and she stood in front of him, put him in a sit and asked him for his paw he gave it and tantrum and excited energy were gone. And I said why? And she said because he has to focus on me directly and if he tries to move I have his leg so he has to look at me. ( tried this with Uly didn’t work)

If you know however your dog is a snapper (This part adopted from “The T.V show”) or defensive with hands on corrections then I turn into them and start first body blocking or calmly walking into them to break their focus on the other dog or what ever.

If you watch a pack of dogs play weather 2,3,4,5 they use body bumps and blocks to contol the actions and movments of the other dog.

I have just really really been pushing with not fighting at all with dogs in these situations and I had the opertunity to experiment with a customers dog. She called me to come and dremel toenails,2 dogs female pretty normal, male border collie mix afraid of strangers and also possissive aggressive over the pregant owner.
The toenails we got it done took a bit, but as I was getting ready to leave, the owner behind me in the hallway, I stepped to her to shake her hand goodbye and he got a little pushy with me snapping at my legs.
Oh no this is not going to happen!

I took my shopping bag(Filled with stuff) and dropped it down low below my knee level and started to walk into him backing him off from her( In other words I took possission of his owner) The next thing I know I look over and the female is comming into the male and bumping him and bitting him in the neck (Little witch was working with me).

Just remember not all things work with all dogs or animals but a good dog trainer is one that can modify methods to come up with something that will work.

Oh The Joy Of Seeing Your Dog Training Progress!

By Hexen –

Last night (Wednesday) was first night back to regular training since the competition (for 2 weeks before usually you proof for whatever up-comming test you are making).

We now have started to train at and learn the exercises for the VPG1 (Vielseitigkeitspruefung für Gebrauchshunde) or earlier known as Schutzhund 1.

The same “walking test” is performed, and added are the exercises of bringing a wooden barbell on the flat ground, bring over a stright wall and also over an A-Frame obstechicle along with bitting exercises.

Up to yeasterday we have been working Hella with not mouthing the barbell (holding it quiet) and the bark and hold which is sitting infront of the helper (the man with the arm on) and barking at him until he moves at which point the dog is allowed to then have a bite.

The “bring” for hella is slow going. She refuses to sit close to me and hold the barbell quietly.I started her off with the sugguestion of one master trainer “when she brings the barbell grab hold of it and try to play a game of tug so she learns to not let go”, For 3 years this has not worked. Second master trainer says ” her nerves build too much excitment so reward instead with a tug toy when she brings the barbell quiet. This is proving to work and help her to understand to hold the barbell quietly (however slowly).

The bark and hold is a new exercise we have been working at for 2 months now and finially last night the light bulb went off in her head and you could see that she finially understands the exercise! When you bark at the guy standing still with the sleeve on, you get rewarded with being allowed to bite. Her whole body language (demeaner) changed, She barked at the “man” then looked back at me real quick as if to “ask” is this correct Mom? Of course it was and I could not have been more pleased with her finially “getting it”.

I had worked and started to teach Hella to search in the “blind” for the bad man. However since trying to teach her “bark and hold” we backed off with pushing that so much. Well last night I wanted to try. Revier” means you circle around the tent (blind) to retrieve your toy! Then bring the toy “here” to me for a quick game of tug. She continued with this exercise as if we had not stopped practicing it. Silly Cow now if only the wooden barbell did not pose such a challenge….

Ulysses has also proven to be quite a little challenge. His walking heal is very nice but on advice of other “Boxer People” until I moved over to Germany I only played tug with him so not to “ruine” his bite until he could work with a proper helper.

When I arrived in Germany and first started to attend the new dog club, I was not very optimistic that his bitting would amount to anything. He had many problems like not bitting with a full mouth not leeping at the bad man to catch the arm.The Master trainer saw the logic in my thinking that he was running to the helper so fast and hard that when he went to grab the sleeve he was actually bouncing himself backwards then he would “think” to bite down, kind of like a “gag reflex”.

My first thought was to go backwards in training (so to speak) and treat him as if he were a 6 month old puppy, so back to the softer more angled bitting pillows and bitting sausages to help get him to oepn his mouth wider and get a firm bite. He has now after 12 weeks of practice moved up to a “young dog arm” to bite on! No more angled bitting pillows. The master trainer had me keep hold of the leash instead of just letting it go when sending Uly to the bad guy to bite, thus providing him with a bit of resistance so he would not rush in so fast and instead LEEP to catch the arm in the proper position.

Last night I could not believe my eyes! He was grabbing hold of the arm consistantly each time with a full mouth and each time I was able to just let go of the leash as he ran to the helper to bite.

On the Obedience front we started to work Uly with the barbell. but now I am confussed. His recommendations are exactly the opposite of what I am doing with hella. When Uly brings the barbell I am to grab hold of it play with him a bit then take his muzzle with both hands One over and one under on his chin area apply a bit of pressure force /help him to sit, as this sitting thing and holding something in the mouth is the most difficult for the dog to master. I think this exercise was the most difficult for me to grasp. But after a few trys I was able to get my coordination and timing better and Uly was not fighting me as much with having his “mush squsished” with holding a hard wooden object in between his teeth ( yeah OUCH).

So it looks as if the VPG 1 in the spring time is not too far out of reach after all. Of course this blog will be on going, so check back from time to time to find out if Hella ever learns to hold the barbell quiet.