My boy can be anxious at times, and when he’s had a negative experience it takes him a long time to forget it. This is the same for many dogs - particularly rescue dogs who have an uncertain past and have had stress in their lives during formative years.
Here we are passing by the house of a big dog he finds very scary after some unpleasant past incidents. Previously, he wouldn’t walk past this house - he’d pull in another direction or drop to the ground and freeze.
Over time, I’ve taught him that I myself am a source of reassurance and safety, and that he can look to me when he feels unsure. Now, when we pass by this house, he puts himself into position and offers me some of his favourite tricks in return for praise and rewards. I don’t even have to ask him to do this anymore - his default when worried is to turn to me for support.
When I talk to clients about focus and teaching alternative behaviours, it isn’t just a case of distracting or redirecting the dog. It’s about changing their emotional response and the ways in which they seek safety. This involves time, patience and lots of love, but it feels great when things come together.
If you need some advice about helping your fearful dog, send me a message and we can chat about options 🐾