Dakota is one of our newest pups. At five months old, she has never received the socialization that puppies so need. When we first met her, we saw the intense over the top reaction she had to other dogs. Knowing that she never likely had positive experiences with larger dogs, I suspected this was a defensive reaction due to fear.
We decided to take Dakota to the park and try to gradually expose her to a non-threatening older male. We were always careful to stay at whatever level she was comfortable with before going to the next step, and reward her for remaining calm. We use treats because this also has the benefit of her experiencing something good around a dog=dogs are good. We decreased the distance between her and the other dog if she was ready to progress. We went from seeing the dog in the distance and bringing him closer- to walking behind him, parallel and then walking side by side. We ended up next to each other in the grass, as the photos show. I was blown away by the tremendous progress she made. This is not always typical of dogs with fear-based behaviors. We did this entire exercise without pushing her over her threshold or forcing her to do anything. This is a true testament to the power of positive dog training, and why we do what we do!
Dakota will continue her socialization and training. She will undoubtedly become a wonderful dog! If you are interested in fostering or adopting her, contact us at [email protected]