by Rachel Rodgers // August 2017

What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster?!

Those of you who have attended our Dog School Shropshire classes may have heard staff talk about “helping your dog out”. But what do we mean by this?

Well what we are trying to do is encourage people to help their dogs when they come across something scary, rather than force their dogs to walk up to or past the thing they are finding a little bit creepy.

As hard as we try to ensure our dogs are well socialised, and we may regularly take them to different areas for walks (beaches, forests and fields), we cannot prevent new and odd things from occasionally appearing when we are out on our walks.

Recently I took my two little dogs for a walk around Nantwich town. As part of the lovely Nantwich Loop walk, we came across a giant Peter Rabbit statue made of hay! Not something either dog have encountered on a walk before.

The two dogs reacted very differently when seeing Peter Rabbit!

Maisy, my cross breed, was a little hesitant whereas Rico seemed totally unphased!

So – what would be the kindest option to help Maisy get past the rabbit and let her know it was going to be “ok”? I stroked her and gave her some vocal reassurance and let her stay close to me as we walked by. As we passed, she gained in confidence again and went back to her normal happy self.

Here are our top tips for helping your dog adjust to something new in the environment!

  • Never force your dog to interact with something they are nervous of. It is ok to go the opposite way.
  • Go at your dog’s pace, if they want to approach the new object slowly, let them!
  • Reassure your dog, encourage them to check in with you and look to you for reassurance by treating them when they do so.
  • Ask for help! If your dog fears something you encounter regularly, consider seeking some help from a behaviourist. Your local Dog School team will have contacts for you.

Consider attending our “Firework Fear” seminar! During this session we don’t just talk about fireworks, but also cover what fear is, and give you helpful tips and strategies for overcoming it. This session will take place on the 4th of September at Dogs Trust Shrewsbury. You can buy your tickets here

As always, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading our blog. If you have any questions then please do get in touch by emailing: shropshiredogschool@dogstrust.org.uk