Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ask the Trainer - Bailey, 9mo old Chihuahua

Question: We just got Bailey yesterday and he is very responsive and loving to my wife but is very mistrustful of me. He even sort of bit me( he did not break the skin. It was more a warning). He may have had difficulties with a male but I do not know. We really want this to work for him and us but somehow I need to gain his trust. PLEASE HELP.

Answer: Start hand feeding him - litterally feeding him from your hand. Every meal. Bailey gets no food except from your hand. During the day, throw treats near his feet for him to eat. Otherwise, just ignore him. Don't look at him, especially don't challenge him by looking him in the eyes. When you have to approach him, do it sideways the way dogs will greet each other.

Loosen up your body. Be as loose as possible when around him. Instead of being the big bad pack leader, be the moose - the prey. Think about this - dogs/wolves hunt in packs to capture the animals that are larger then they are. But they also have a great deal of respect for those large animals. They have sharp hooves and antlers. A moose, elk or caribou can stop an entire pack in mid stride just by turning around, standing tall and shaking their antlers at them.

Bailey, being small, sees you as the moose. You are huge and have hands and things that move fast at him. Slow down, loosen up and don't "confront" him. Let him make the moves - "dance" with him.

Don't ever reach for the top of his head from above him. Another lesson from the wild - your hands coming at the top of Bailey's head are like large birds with feet dangling down diving from the air to grab small to medium size animals for lunch. Come at him to pet him from under his chin. The most sensitive part of a dog's body to pet and massage is the chest.

Response: Good morning Jamie, Just as update on Bailey, our new dog. He is doing great!! After 2 days of hand feeding, he is trusting me enough to sit on my lap. He also lets me pick him up and put his leash on his collar. He is eating on his own and has become part of our family. We couldn't have done it without you. Thank you for all the great advice.