What the duck? No worries!

July 29, 2016

Sure, this video is absolutely adorable and over 1 million people have oooohed and aaaahed over it. When I look at it, the first thing that comes to mind is: WOW! That dog must have had exposure to other creatures from an early age. How cool is that?


Now I don't know if this dog REALLY met ducks when he was just a pup or if he is just a duck-lover like myself. But exposing your dog to novel objects, sounds, textures, etc. is arguably one of the most valuable things you can do to help him be a confident, stable dog. We see a lot of dogs at my dog school who freak out when they see a person on crutches, hear a garbage truck drive by or even hear paper crumple. If these dogs would have had exposure to a lot of different things when they were young, or even on on ongoing basis, that would have helped them out tremendously.


So if you have a young dog, try to show him or her at least 10 new things every day. Things that look funny, sound funny, feel funny.... Let the dog approach these items at their own pace and reward even the smallest interaction with a 'good boy!' Keep all interactions FUN and POSITIVE. No teasing or chasing after your dog with"spooky" items, even if it IS kind of funny that a pool noodle scares your dog like Pennywise, the clown from 'IT' scares me. If you have an older dog, exposure is still incredibly beneficial. It can be more challenging if he already has anxiety about things so keep all interactions POSITIVE. If you think you need help, we can help you, or refer you to a fabulous trainer/behaviorist for extreme anxieties.


Walk on strange surfaces: sand, wet sidewalks (good luck finding them if you live in AZ like me...), grass, dirt, rock.... We use a Fumble Mat in dog school made up of paper, bubble wrap, car mats, funky IKEA rugs, plastic sheeting.... anything we find that will feel different or sound different under dogs' feet. We turn it into a big game and the dogs do very well with it.


Listen to weird sounds together. Even short bursts of sound-hairdryers, mixers, starting a car. There are apps you can download full of strange noises. Playing these randomly throughout the day when you are with your dog, followed by a 'Good boy!' when he looks cute and cocks his head is super.


NO item is too mundane-we've seen dogs who are afraid of their own elevated food bowl. Exposure, exposure, exposure!


Exposure to a lot of people too. Old people, young people, different skin colors, body types, artificial limbs, wheelchairs, walkers.... the possibilities are endless. The more things your dog can see and experience and experience POSITIVELY (Yes! Good boy!) the better. If you need help, more ideas or have questions, we are always here for you. We will be featuring our Fumble Mat in an upcoming live feed so stay tuned!



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