For Growly or Scaredy Dogs
Description – strategically using kibble, treats, or other types of food or toys to make a dogs experience pleasant and even fun in the presence of a strange person or object.
Prerequisites: Clicker Basics; Name Game;
When to use Kibble Toss – you can use Kibble Toss training any time you want to encourage your dog to move away from another person or object. An example would be guests being in your home. You can toss food or toys to encourage the dog to move away from the guest thus preventing the dog from getting too close and perhaps becoming conflicted. Properly executed this process can successfully rehabilitate and desensitize a dog from being scared or uncomfortable around a new person or even a new object in your home! This process can be used outside of your home as well.
Caveat – it is necessary to use a toy or treat that is high value so that we are sure that the dog is enjoying herself. Be prepared to toss many times and give lots of breaks by taking the dog into another room.
The directions are –
- Have a goal. Generally the goal is just for the dog be in the presence of a person or object and not bark, or exhibit behaviors that indicate she is uncomfortable or even scared.
- Have your guest or object in a different room than your dog to start.
- Ask your guest to ignore your dog. No petting the dog no talking to the dog no engaging the dog at all. This helps make you the bearer of all good things including love and attention.
- Bait the floor by sprinkling a couple of treats onto the floor so that as the dog enters the room where the guest is the dog brings her nose down and is busy sniffing and eating. This will cause the dog to not stare at the new person or the guest in your home and will help your dog have a good time in the presence of the guest.
- After the dog eats those few treats, happily call his name and remove him from the room. Do this before the dog looks up at the guest and gets startled. You are moving in letting her eat and moving out; this should be a smooth process with lots of enthusiasm and little to no leash jerking.
- Repeat steps 4 & 5, you can even have your guest put the treats on the floor while you are in the other room.
- Once the dog is able to come into the room where the guest is, eat her treats and leave without barking, you can move on to the next phase.
- Enter the room where the guest is without baiting the floor first, the dog should come in and look at the spot where the food had been tossed previously, and will most likely look up at the guest. When the dog looks up at the guest you Mark with clicker or yes and lots of enthusiasm while your guest tosses treats at your feet. By tossing the treats at your feet it encourages the dog to move away from the guest and toward you the handler.
- Repeat this process several times until the dog is coming into the room, looking at the guest and looking forward to the treats toss. Move on to the next phase.
- Enter the room where the guest is without baiting the floor first. When the dog looks at the guest, the guest will Mark by saying yes, using a clicker, and using lots of enthusiasm. The guest will again toss the food at your feet. It is important that as the guest shows happiness and enthusiasm that the dog not get startled, so start small.
- As time goes on you will need to toss fewer and less often and eventually not at all.
- Dogs learn by practicing, so if you are consistent your dog will be practicing moving away from your guest and giving a sit.
When to click: click as the dog looks at the guest.
- the treats and/or toys that you tossed must be exciting.
- the guest must ignore the dog in the beginning.
- remember the importance of strategic treat placement, scatter the treats such that the dog is moving away from the guest but not so far that the dog finds interacting with the guest more convenient and less effort.
- Be prepared, be 100% consistent.
- Be careful to not teach the dog to stare at the guest. Ultimately we want to teach the dog to look at the guest, and then look away from the guest. This protocol is intended to be a great start to desensitizing the dog to a person or object. It is essentially classical conditioning where the dog learns that when people or an object are about that good things happen to that dog. In other words I see Bonnie and I get a cookie. At no time during this protocol should the guest hand the cookie to the dog. The cookie should always be tossed thus moving the dog away from the guest and creating a fun game where the dog is scurrying around hunting and finding food.