Trainer Tip Video: Walking a scared or timid dog

22March 2017

Today’s Trainer Tip Video:
How to walk a scared or timid dog.  Featuring Sherman, the bulldog.

When it comes to a dog that is scared, timid, or unsure, the most important thing you need is patience.  You must be patient and allow the dog to take extra time in exploring a new place or moving out into the world.  Be sure to encourage the dog with any movement forward or movement towards whatever they may be scared of.  Only use “baby talk” when the dog is doing what you like.  Remember that any time you reward a dog (which baby talk is a reward), you are letting the dog know you like the behavior they are doing.  This is why you should NEVER “baby talk” a dog that is scared.  By saying “its ok, its ok” you are actually unintentionally encoring the dog to continue the scared behavior.  Obviously this is not what you want.
For more information on this, 
please review What’s rewarding to Dogs:

3 Things on your body that are Rewarding to Dogs:
1.  Voice
2.  Eye Contact
3.  Touch
Anytime you engage your dog in one of these things, you are rewarding them and encouraging whatever behavior they are currently doing.  This is important to keep in mind so you do not unintentionally reward bad or unwanted behaviors.  
Example:  when a dog jumps up on you to greet you, the proper thing to do is cross your arms and turn your back while saying nothing.  

When using the leash in training a scared or timid dog, be very careful how you do so.  Never just pull on the leash and drag the dog while not releasing the tension on the leash.  What you want to teach any dog about walking on a leash is that a loose leash is good and pulling or tension on the leash is bad.  So when walking a scared dog, you want to pull the leash just enough until the dog starts moving forward on their own.  As soon as that happens, be sure to release the tension on the leash.  By doing this, we are communicating with the dog that we like that he is moving forward.  However if you continue to pull on the leash and there is always tension, the dog will never learn how to move forward on his own.