Teaching something like a basic “place” command (requiring a dog to step up onto a short platform) teaches you a lot about your dog’s personality. Some dogs will bound over any and everything to get to a treat. Others will greet anything new has a potential life-threatening danger.
Sophie, and many of the dogs I work with, fall into the second camp. Sometimes it’s not so obvious in their day to day life, but when you put the smallest new thing in front of them, they show you who they are.
If you ever want to successfully help rehabilitate a dog, or even train a dog, you’re going to have to feel comfortable dealing with fear. In this video, I discuss the two major approaches to dealing with fear: the slow gradual, dog-friendly approach and the “ripping off the Band-Aid” approach. I thought that Sophie was going to be resistant, but she ended up giving us an awesome display of why it’s sometimes good to go easy, have fun, and let the dog make choices rather than asserting yourself and making the choices for her.
If you have a fearful dog in your life, then it’s important that you learn how to navigate these moments confidently in a way that helps move the dog forward. Too often when a dog shows some trepidation with something, owners just manage it out of their lives. Sometimes, that is the right decision, but overcoming these little fears is going to manifest itself in your dogs as pure, new confidence.
Also, overcoming little things like this is a GREAT way to build trust with a dog so you can overcome the bigger fears in life later.