“Is your dog afraid of something? Maybe men or children? Let them feed him/her out of their hand. Is he/she afraid of the vacuum cleaner? Feed him/her in immediate proximity to it, or put the pieces right on top of it.”… ❌However, there’s a slight problem with these methods.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧: he/she is afraid, but really wants the food. So, he/she collects all the courage and eats the food. But what happens next? – The trigger stays too close to his/her face! This might result in panicking and even biting. Repeating the “I see a hand – I am afraid of it” exercise over and over doesn’t help battle the fear.

✔️But there is a great alternative: Dunbar’s hands-off, reward-based method. It was introduced in the context of fear aggression, but can be applied to any kinds of fears.

It works like this:

1️⃣ Wait until your dog gets enough courage to step towards the trigger (a child, a man, a vacuum cleaner, etc.);
2️⃣ Mark the correct behavior (verbally or with a clicker);
3️⃣ Carefully toss the treat behind the dog, so that he/she needs to turn and walk away from the trigger.

In the end, the dog approaches the trigger (which is your goal☑️), turns away from it, eats the reward and then approaches the trigger again.

This way, you reward your pet for his/her bravery and curiosity, but in such a way that wouldn’t allow your furry companion to see the trigger too close and get startled. You are creating a positive association with a trigger, and not practicing the fear. This makes fear correction much easier and quicker. 🐶

– let your dog 𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐲 approach the trigger;
– click/mark good behavior and toss the treat far from the trigger;
– the dog runs away from it to get the treat.

You can work with any fear using this technique. Simply allow your dog to be brave and reward him/her for the courage. 😊

Good luck!