Using treats to help fearful puppies
I attended a training session at the humane society on Monday so now I’m allowed to take the shelter dogs for walks (yay!). During the training session my mentor and I worked with two extremely shy dogs, and it was very rewarding to see the dogs become slightly more comfortable with us over 45 minutes or so.
The dogs are six-month old siblings that were transferred from a shelter in Mississippi along with about 13 other dogs. They are labeled as “Basset hound/Lab mixes” which looks about right only they have longer hair than both breeds. I don’t know anything else about them, but I can imagine they might’ve grown up in a shelter environment. Who knows. Whatever the case, they are now very shy dogs and spend the majority of their time huddled together in the back of their kennel. When someone approaches their cage, they do not come out.
I liked the attitude of my mentor, because she seemed to share my opinion on the situation. The dogs would have to get used to people. They would have to go for walks. We can’t feel sorry for them.
So, armed with lots and lots of small jerky treats, we sat in the cage with the dogs. Their cage is about 12 feet long and 6 feet wide (just guessing), and they have a plastic kennel in the back filled with blankets. The dogs stared at us for a bit as we tossed them jerky, and then the braver one of the two came out. Her brother followed.
We continued to feed them treats as we clipped their leashes and harnesses on, but once we tried to lead them out they flattened and refused to move. So, we lifted them and carried them past the other kennels with barking dogs. Once out in the grass, they were willing to follow a trail of treats to the fenced yard.
There, we let them loose, and they were happy to run and sniff in the grass – totally different dogs. You could almost see some of their stress float away. They rolled in the grass, followed their little basset noses, chased toys and asked for treats.
When we led them back to their cage, although jumpy, they were willing to do all the walking themselves.
A little progress. A good day for the puppies.