Dog Confidence Building in Northern Virginia | Off Leash K9 Confidence Building Training
Dogs are social animals with emotions just like us, and these emotions drive their behavior. When a dog feels positive, this usually results in annoying but harmless behavior like distraction and over-exuberance. However, if all the underlying feelings your dog has are negative, like fear and anxiety, this can lead to dangerous behavior like aggression. For instance, a dog afraid of other dogs or strangers was not socialized well as a puppy. Likewise, if your dog dislikes it when you touch their paws, neck area, or cut their nails, they have never learned to be comfortable with anyone touching their paws. Body desensitization wasn’t done at the puppy stage when a dog has issues with being touched. Building back the confidence your dog has already lost is vital for your interaction now and in the future. If you are looking for classes in dog confidence building in Northern VA, you are in luck. At our Northern Virginia training facility, we get to work every day with dogs of all ages, breeds and sizes to help them regain back their confidence.
What Is Desensitization and How Does It Work?
Desensitization is the technique of exposing a dog to some form of stimulus that usually causes an undesirable reaction at a low level such that there is no response. As the dog becomes less reactive, desensitization continues by exposing the dog gradually to more intense stimulus levels. Over time, the dog stops associating particular touches with pain or a traumatic event. Desensitization is done together with counterconditioning. Counterconditioning is where the dog’s emotional response to a stimulus is changed from a negative one to a positive one.
Usually, dogs that need confidence-building training have a problem with different types of body handling. These include:
- Ears: A dog will have issues with you handling their ears or manipulating them to clean or look inside.
- Mouth: Lifting the lips to examine the teeth, opening the jaws, or giving a tablet or any oral liquid is a problem.
- Collar: Grasping the collar or leaning over their head to grasp it makes them uncomfortable.
- Legs or feet: A dog who wasn’t desensitized will not like their nails trimmed, or paws handled.
- Tail: A overly sensitive dog will not like anyone touching or lifting the tail.
- Grooming: Brushing any area of the body or using electric clippers to groom the dog is not easy.
- Body: Hugging or touching the dog around the chest or abdomen makes them uncomfortable.
During body desensitization, focus on one area of the body at a time. Some dogs may be extremely sensitive when you touch different parts of their body, while others may only have a problem with physical touch on one area of the body. Focus on the left and right ear, muzzle, all four paws and nails, neck, and tail. Also, slowly work towards making the dog comfortable when being hugged or brushed.
Aggression and Sensitivity Training
It can be frustrating if you have an overly sensitive dog who won’t let you touch him. Usually, we want our dogs to be receptive when we touch them, brush their fur, clip their nails or pet them. A dog that didn’t properly desensitize can be hard to deal with daily. Lucky for you, professional dog trainers exist for that reason. Off Leash K9 Training offers one of the best programs in dog confidence building in Northern VA.
The 8-week aggression and reactivity training program is meant for dogs with aggression and reactivity issues. Most of the time, aggression in a dog is a result of improper desensitization, whereby a dog gets aggressive when you touch or try to groom them. The program includes a basic obedience package and other additional lessons where we work with you and your dog in different scenarios. At the end of the eight weeks, you and your dog will have all the tools, skills, and desensitization that puts you back in control.
At Off Leash K9 Training, we deal with foot and collar sensitive or reactive dogs. Such issues occur because the breeder or original owner didn’t train them properly to shed off the behavior. The problem with a dog who reacts negatively to maybe his collar or paws getting touched is that it can lead to unexpected biting, which can quickly turn to full-on aggression. Before it gets to the stage where you can no longer control your dog’s reactivity, make sure you train them early on.
To make a dog comfortable with physical touch and other stimuli, use the touch and hold and praise and treat method. For instance, to get your dog used to its paws getting touched from an early stage, touch the left or right paw and then offer them a treat or praise. The same goes for the ears, the tail, collar, and muzzle area. Get the dog also used to being held, hugged, and brushed by hugging and holding them or brushing their hair for a few seconds before offering a treat or praise. Over time, your dog will stop associating touch with something negative and start associating it with a treat or praise.
The process of desensitization should take you about 20 to 30 seconds. Make sure you do it every day until your dog is no longer fearful or anxious when you touch them. While all these things help, you can make life easier for yourself by picking the right dog, socializing them early on, and training confidence when they are still in the puppy stage. Doing so helps raise a dog that is a delight to play with or pet and doesn’t raise a fuss every time you visit your vet or pet groomer. These are great drills for dog confidence building in Northern Virginia.
If you’ve adopted an already mature dog who has never been desensitized, that’s where our trainers come in. Off Leash K9 Training has highly qualified trainers and the best in dog confidence building in Northern VA. The trainers will stop at nothing to make sure they build confidence in your dog. The process is not easy and may take longer than expected, but your dog will eventually get there. Get in touch with us or call (571) 252-5536.