SetUp Situations

If your dog is spooked, find her Red Zone—the distance from the object at which she feels comfortable—and work with her there. To condition your dog to new objects, follow these steps:

1 At an unstressful time, place the foreign object in the middle of the floor.

2 Walk your dog by it without seeming to pay attention to it or to her reaction. If it makes her nervous, increase your distance from the object.

3 Walk by repeatedly until she is less reactive.

4 Let her leash drop, and go up to the object and investigate it as if you were another dog.

Do not force your dog to follow you-just let her observe you.

5 When she approaches the object, stay very calm. Pet her after she relaxes. Feed her food rewards if she will take them.

Objects that move, like grocery carts and wheelchairs, can be particularly startling to a dog. Remind HEEl and walk your dog at a gradually diminishing distance from the moving object until she feels more comfortable. Investigate the object together while it's still.

Objects that have unfamiliar shapes or that suddenly change from one shape to another can generate a strong startle response in a dog. The best way to integrate the object into your dog's world is to leave it out for several days. Leave treats on or by it, and investigate the object yourself to show both comfort and confidence.

Many dogs are uncomfortable walking on or near grates. They are wary of both the grate's crossed pattern and its dark spaces; dogs do not have depth perception like humans do. If you soothe or drag your dog over to a grate, you may create a lifelong phobia. Instead, slow it down. Stand on or near the grate yourself and remain quiet until your dog approaches. Then look at her calmly and reward her.

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