Surfaces

Dogs are sensitive to surfaces like gravel, ice, pavement, and tile to varying degrees until they are conditioned to them. Your dog depends on her equilibrium and balance in interpreting her surroundings. Pair that with her inability to reason a surface change, and the result is often a startle reaction when her ground surface changes suddenly. Be mindful of this when you're navigating with your dog, and take time to acclimate her to new surfaces using food, toys, patience, and praise.

Many dogs do not adjust well to hard, unforgiving surfaces—they offer nothing for their paws to grasp. if your past reaction to your wary dog has been to plead, placate, or drag her across such a surface, your attention has reinforced her fear. Be patient. Spread towels across the floor to provide a magic carpet; then downgrade to copier paper. Sit on the floor and offer treats when your dog ventures to be near you.

Tubs and sinks feel very unsafe to many dogs—especially those who don't like water. Again, it's the fear of nothing to grasp with their paws and the slippery feeling when they try to move. When you have to bathe your dog, lay a towel down or use a tub mat to help your dog feel more secure.

If your dog is surface sensitive, wooden stairs will undo her. Stairs throw off a dog's balance, and although she can readjust, the added loss of sure footing will not be received well. You have two options: carpet your stairs or gradually introduce your dog to walking up and down wooden ones as described on page 70.

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