Treat & Retreat

August 26, 2011, Training Tips, Adam Gates

Treat & Retreat

Is your dog hiding behind you, backing away from or barking at strangers?  If so, you could try the process of treat and retreat.

Nervous dogs who have "stranger danger" - fear of new people - may hide, back up, or run away from new people.  These are clear signals that the dog wants to increase the distance between himself and the stranger.  Many times a nervous dog will act this way with people he has met on several occasions, so do not be discouraged if your loyal companion has met your closest friend numerous times and sill offers these behaviors. 

Spend a few minutes each day by giving a friend or stranger a few treats, and the moment your dog notices the person, have the friend toss a treat or two toward or behind your dog. Your friend should immediately take a few steps back - sometimes continuous movement backward helps even more.  It is important we step back to reward the nervous dog with the distance he seeks.  Practice this each time your dog meets someone and gradually close the gap by having them drop the treats a little bit closer to themselves every time.  Don't forget to step back a little each time as well to reward your furry friend; this is a dual reward process of rewarding him not only with a treat, but with space. 

This process takes some time but is very effective as long as you allow the dog to make the decision to close the gap between himself and the stranger- don't force it!


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