The topic today is why peaceful environments are bad for your skittish dog. It’s nice when you get to come home to a place that is tranquil and relaxing to be in. I know that tends to be my home, and I have a lovely bedroom and nice furniture in my living room. I’m sitting in a comfy chair right now in my office, which has a nice ceiling fan going, and the temperature is just right for me.
Even though I have two very young rambunctious German Shepherds, my home is a very peaceful place. However, having a peaceful home can present some unique challenges if you have a skittish dog. Now, it’s worth mentioning that skittish dogs should have a place to relax, and however, this is not going to solve the problem of them being skittish.
Alright, so let me share some examples of some things that I’ve recently seen and what we’ve done about them. Just today, I was training with a pretty skittish dog. The dog did pretty well with its owners, but it had problems when I interacted with the dog. It was worried about me, even though I wouldn’t do anything remotely harmful to the dog. But the dog was skittish.
Start A Pattern
So, what we did for the dog was we started a pattern. How we’re going to ask it to stay, to move with us, and to stop and sit by our side when we’re having a conversation with somebody. As I took the dog through that process, I could see that as I stayed consistent, they began to understand what I would do next.
I want to think here from the dog’s perspective. I’m the stranger, and the dog is thinking, what’s this guy going to do. But then, when the dog saw that this guy was in a pattern, things became better.
So you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with the environment? Well, it has a lot to do with it. When you’re with your dog, you’re the main thing that the dog will need to focus on. In any environment with your dog, you could be the most consistent thing.
Not Make It So Calm
And this could be very useful, especially if the things you’re doing are significant for the dog. So, one of the strategies that you can take with your skittish dog in your environment is not to make it so calm. However, it would help if you made it not so calm when you’re in the middle of one of your training sessions. Let me give you a good example.
Let’s say that you’re teaching your dog how to stay. And then you happen to be watching a baseball game as we had on the television today. So as the dog responds to the noises on the television and becomes a little bit skittish. You can help the dog understand that it’s to stay calm using your nonverbal cues. And then, when the dog is relaxed, you can reinforce the dog by using quiet praise by petting them.
Suppose they’re worried about the noise on the television or noises coming from the outside of the house. Remind them of the things that they know how to do. Such as walking together with you on a leash, even inside your home, and how to stay on the place bed. When the dog makes mistakes and gets it right, they can begin to filter out what they’re worried about. They will understand that they’re not actually worried.
So make your home a place that maybe isn’t so peaceful. But during the training sessions, when you’re prepared to communicate to your dog. After you’ve done this kind of work with your dog, begin to take them into environments where things are going to make them skittish. But use the same skill that you did inside your home to get them to settle down.
Use These Four Things
It should be some combination of staying in a place, walking nicely with you, and even playing a game or doing some recall training. You want to use those four things in the environment, and I’m assuming that you’ve already taught that to the dog. It would be best to take those things and then help the dog filter out the noisy stuff making them skittish. And when I’m saying noisy, I’m not just talking about sound, but any of those things that will trigger the dog into becoming worried.
I hope that was helpful. Skittish dogs and their owners can overcome an environment that is too peaceful and get on the road of building confidence—just being a better dog.