Training Part 1: Locations
Environmental training is extremely important for any protection dog. A real life self-defense altercation is unpredictable as no one knows when or where it may occur. It is imperative that a dog's ability to protect is not hindered by fear of certain environments. A dog may look great on the training field where it is comfortable, but many dogs become nervous of certain sounds, small confined areas, slick floors (tile, marble, vinyl), etc., especially when it is in a new and unfamiliar area. Training to overcome these environmental fears is an essential part of any good protection training program.
During protection training, when most dogs are very nervous of the environment, their natural tendency is to want to either not bite and avoid the situation or bite and let go. It is imperative that a dog is not allowed to consistently do such things. The dog must never be allowed to think that avoidance and weak biting is ever an option when called upon to protect.
Though there are certain tactics a trainer can use during bite work training to help overcome a dog's environmental fears, there are also many things the owner can do beforehand to get faster results and insure greater success during bite work training.
In this article, we will discuss how to overcome the fear of a certain locations. Use either food or a toy depending on which your dog has a greater interest in. In this example, we will use food because it is the easiest method for a novice dog owner to understand since it requires minimal knowledge of any other aspect of dog training.
Let's say a dog is nervous about entering into in a small bathroom. Give the dog some treats with the dog standing outside the doorway of the bathroom. Then take one step into the bathroom and draw the dog forward so it must stand under the doorway in order to get and eat the treat. Take another step in so the dog must now take a step into the bathroom in order to eat the treat. Repeat this pattern over and over until the dog is completely in the bathroom. You will notice that the dog may be apprehensive and slow when stepping forward, but that is OK.
After the dog is completely in the bathroom, take the dog out and repeat the whole thing again. You should notice that the dog will move forward slightly quicker in order to get the treat. Some dog owners will say their dog is too nervous to even eat the food in this situation. Don't feed the dog anything but water for 48 hours and then you will see a dog that moves forward very quickly to get that food.
Once the dog is willing to enter, practice obedience in the bathroom. Make sure to reward the dog with food or toy when it performs the obedience correctly. Keep the obedience simple and avoid corrections. Drawing the dog in with treats and doing obedience should be repeated until the dog is completely indifferent about entering a being in the bathroom. Now it will be much easier for the trainer to employ his strategies when doing bite work in the bathroom.