Last week Emma the Beagle became afraid to walk on our wood floors. We don’t know why. Maybe she slipped, maybe she just took a bad step, maybe someone clicked open a pen at the same moment Emma stepped on the floor. The reason doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the fact that because of this new fear, she couldn’t move from the dining room to the couch, she couldn’t walk across the room to eat her meals, and she couldn’t walk to the door to go outside.
Check out the video above to see what Hubz and I have to do to help Emma live in her world of fear. The biggest tool in our arsenal is patience. Whether we’re helping Emma overcome her separation anxiety, walk on wood, or walk on a bridge, the rule is to keep her below her fear threshold. Little by little we use chicken or cuddles or whatever will make Emma feel good at that moment to change the scary-bad association into a happy-tasty-fun one.
I did these sessions four or five times yesterday — focusing on one area of the floor and keeping her there until her tail was back wagging and her expression relaxed. By 6 p.m. she was following me all around the room.
Emma’s still a little bit skittish today, so we’ll have a few more chicken-on-the-wood sessions, but she’s at least brave enough to join us at the door for walks.
I call that a WIN!
Until next time…
Thank you to Zazie with Companion Animal Psychology for hosting the Train4Rewards blog party. Click on the link to read all sorts of goodies about positive-reinforcement training. Teaching your dogz stuffz can be fun for both you and your pup!