Thursday, September 13, 2012

positive-reinforcement training.

I think we need to step up the training. Or I do, rather. Little One's anxiety has been gradually kicking in again. I think it's happened so gradually that I didn't even realize it until a friend commented about it the other day while we were at the park. My friend commented (with part humor and part seriousness) that Claire doesn't like many dogs. Maybe I'm biased, but I just don't think that's it. I mean, she's around dogs all the time at daycare and she is just fine. And again, she's great with the dogs that she knows. I guess I've always thought that it was normal for some dogs to need a little space when meeting new dogs. But maybe that's just "normal" for Claire...?

I've always been aware that Claire's anxiety mainly manifests itself in that she is leash-reactive, and we have continued to work on that; I'm seeing improvement there, mainly because we work on it every time we go for walks. But as I look back on the past few months, I find that, when we're at the park, she is only 100% comfortable around the dogs she knows. She hates when puppies jump all over her, and she gets nervous when dogs get in her face - even if they're just coming up to say hello. Her reaction is to give them one quick bark, and then she removes herself from the situation. I'm proud of her for doing this, but ideally, she wouldn't react at all and would just walk away. What are your thoughts? Am I overreacting and making this a bigger deal than it needs to be?

I'm big on positive-reinforcement training. It promotes trust and confidence. That's why, if you're around me and Claire, you'll notice that I praise her a lot with either treats or "life rewards" such as positive touch and verbal praise. I don't yell at her for doing something wrong, and I would never ever cause discomfort or pain. On the rare occasions that she needs a scolding, she gets a stern voice and a time-out immediately after whatever incident occurred. Instead of saying "no" all the time, I redirect her to do the correct thing and then I praise her for it. I'm a firm believer that positive-reinforcement training is the best training method for all dogs, but especially for dogs who deal with anxiety. This is why it's the best fit for Claire. So now it's time to kick it up a notch to get her over this hurdle.


  1. I'm a dog behaviorist, and I can tell you that any dog who puts their face in another dog's face doesn't have manners. Claire's response is a way of telling them to back off and be polite by greeting her properly - from behind!!! Claire is not in the wrong.

  2. it's great that you are so in tune with your dog! however i think you are overreacting. she's doing nothing wrong by verbalizing that she needs space. sounds like the ones who need to really work on training are the ones who are telling you that claire's behaviro is a problem.

  3. Training Elka to either ignore or be calm around other dogs is one of the things we work on the most. She too really doesn't like dogs in her face, or sniffing her butt.

    I don't blame you for not liking the bark, as I'm not a fan either. I think it is fairly normal, though. Not all dogs WANT to say hello to all other dogs. Or ANY other dogs. Certainly not all dogs dig puppies, either.

  4. I'm with the others - Claire needs her own space maybe? Not that bad a thing I'd think. I'm like you though - all for the positive reinforcement! Nanook gets a stern voice a lot, but he needs to know his boisterous puppy ways aren't good! He gets cuddles and treats and praise every time he does anything good though :)