As has become an annual tradition amongst the staff at Creation’s Care Pet Sitting, we took this weekend to pause and enjoy the wonderful world of equestrian sport. The Redhills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee brings equestrian competitors from around the globe for a three day Olympic level competition right to our back door. Spectators abound, and with them, multiple furry friends who have come with their owners to partake in the festivities. It’s the perfect place to spend a day with your four-legged friend, or is it? Ultimately, that really depends on your dog.
When it comes to deciding when or if you should take your furry friend to public events or areas, the singlemost thing that owners need to ask them selves is this: Is my dog comfortable being out in public? Will they stay quiet, calm and collected, or will they freeze in uncertainty and fear? If you are anything less than 100% certain that your pooch can handle the large crowds, chaos, and noise with confidence, leave them at home. They will be happier, and you will be able to enjoy the function you are attending without being consumed with how your dog may or may not react. And remember, just because your dog may not be cool, calm, and collected in public areas now, doesn’t mean they will always be like that. You can help your pooch gain the confidence they need through obedience and positive reinforcement.
In her article titled “Help Your Shy Dog Gain Confidence”, Mardi Richmond states that the first step is recognizing what your dog is timid or scared of and managing those things until your dog can be properly desensitized to them. Here are her tips for managing stressful situations with your dog:
• Avoid crowded areas where your dog may be overwhelmed by strangers.
• Use a leash, crate, or baby gate to prevent your dog from interacting with strangers in your home.
Think about ways you can protect your dog if you are caught off guard, too:
• If a stranger approaches and asks to pet your dog, you can say, “No, I’m sorry, but my dog is uncomfortable with people she doesn’t know.”
• Put yourself between the person and your dog.
• Create distance by crossing the street or going a different direction.
Once you have management in place and your dog’s overall stress levels go down, get ready to train, desensitize, and counter-condition!
Helping your dog transition into the confident, relaxed companion that can go anywhere and do anything with you will take time and patience, but the end result will be well worth the time and effort spent.
More helpful tips on managing and counter conditioning your dog to stressful or unfamiliar situations can be found on the Whole Dog Journal, http://www.wholedogjournal.com. And as always, never hesitate to reach out to a local certified dog trainer who uses fear-free positive training techniques for help.
Richmond, Mardi. “Help Your Shy Dog Gain Confidence”. The Whole Dog Journal. April 2006. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.