POSITIVE ASSOCIATIONS START WITH THE FIRST IMPRESSION
First impressions are everything! The initial interaction you have with something new will dictate your associations with that individual or thing going forward, particularly if it wasn’t pleasant. You only have one opportunity to give your dog a positive first impression so it’s vital maximizing this experience is vital!
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR DOG IS MAKING POSITIVE ASSOCIATIONS
Sometimes owners think they are helping their dog form positive associations when in reality the dog is stressed. Aside from reading their body language, one of the simplest ways to identify when your dog is under stress is to offer them food. Some dogs will eat under stress, but many lose their appetite. Try several different values of rewards and if you can’t find one your dog responds enthusiastically to then give your dog a little space and time to opt in to the experience.
How hard your dog takes the treat can also indicated their comfort level. A dog with something on their mind may be less careful taking the treat from you and extra chompy in situations of arousal.
CREATING INTENTIONAL POSITIVE ASSOCIATIONS
Pairing new experiences with food is a great way to help your dog form positive associations with new things. Offer tasty treats to assess if your dog feels safe. If your dog refuses to eat offer better rewards or move to safer, calmer environment.
Dog’s are neophobic or fearful of new things by nature and often approach novel experiences with caution. Respect their communication signals a give your dog options to opt in or out. Allow them to move away if they choose so they learn that avoiding conflict is an option.
Describe a situation in which your dog was hesitant to approach something or someone or wouldn’t take food? Would you respond differently if you had the opportunity to do it over again?
If you have any questions about your dog or training program please call or text us at 913.712.8742. Join us remotely for our Weekly Q&A and Nail Trim sessions hosted on Zoom and streamed live through Facebook. On a tight budget? Check out our FREE courses available online.