This post was written for Blog-a-thon 2011 to help raise money for homeless animals at the Nebraska Humane Society. Click here to donate! If you have appreciated learning about fearful dogs on this blog you can pay it forward by making a donation. Remember any amount is appreciated, is tax deductible, and will be doubled. A $10 donation will be matched and earn the shelter $20. It’s a pretty good deal and donating money to help others help animals is incompatible with complacency.
Instead of just trying to stop behaviors you don’t like, give your dog something else to do instead and make that a habit! Incompatible behaviors are behaviors that are impossible to perform along with the behavior you don’t like. Teach a dog to sit and they won’t be jumping on you. Teach a dog to go get a ball and they won’t be charging the people walking by the fence.
You can use the same principle in regard to emotions. If a dog can learn to feel good around the things that scare them, they won’t be feeling bad! It’s hard to be sad when you are eating a hot fudge sundae (I prefer mine with peppermint stick ice cream).
In this video you’ll see how play & performing tricks helps my fearful dog feel better about being around people. Make no doubt about it, Sunny remains fearful of most people. He was not socialized to people early in his life and that’s what happens to a dog. He’ll never be a ‘gee I think you’re swell’ kind of dog with people, though he is with me, his primary caregiver. However he had learned skills for coping around people.