Tuesday, August 4, 2015

White Lake Trip - Uli Conquers His Fears (Mostly)

One thing we have noticed about our little pup is that he is very curious but a bit afraid of new and untested things that appear dangerous to him. Things that have fallen into that category for Uli:
  • the stairs to the basement
  • jumping in and out of the back of the car
  • idling cars (We had a scare when he got spooked by a car and got out of his collar and leash at a rest stop. We are thankful for a nearby dog owner that caught him!)
  • other dogs barking at him
  • boats
  • fire
As with the stairs to the basement and the back of the car, some encouragement and treat lures are all it takes to gain his confidence and banish the fear.

On this trip, we laid some groundwork for Uli's future as a BWCA dog. It was an incremental thing, first praising his curiosity about the boat.

Then, we got in it while it was on shore and encouraged him to join us.

We offered special treats that smelled really enticing to lure him in.

He really wanted the treat but wasn't willing to get into the boat from the dock. He figured out for himself that he could get in from the shore instead of the dock.

And in he came!

"Where's my treat? I did it!"

We practiced having him go in and out from the shore with lots of gushing praise and treats.

Then, we pushed off from the shore and he HAD to get in from the dock.

He did it and from that point on, it wasn't a scary place. It was a place where treats happen!

So when, on another day, Paul bailed the boat out, he jumped in on his own!

We took him for a few rides. Being in the boat wasn't nearly as scary to him as getting in and out of it. So far he hasn't tried to jump out into the water but if the boat had been a canoe, he surely would have tipped it.

Next up on our desensitization plan: fire.

Uli has been around fire in our backyard before and he always keeps his distance.

A rather large range of distance!

So we worked on showing him that it is safe to get nearer.

Praising and treats did the trick again!

Another successful lure is to offer safety and comfort with cuddles. This lure works especially well if he is exhausted from a long hiking day trip.

thanks to Paul for the picture

When we first arrived at the cabin, Uli and Paul headed to the dock. Paul leaned over to look for fish and Uli wanted to know what was so interesting. He leaned a little too far and fell into the water! I don't think he liked the surprise of that and so it set the stage for all water entry via shore. Paul really wanted Uli to run and jump off of the dock so he tried his best to get him to do it.

Throwing the ball in for fetch yielded shore entries. Calling him to join you when you were already out in the water yielded shore entries. So, Paul figured the best way to get him to jump would be by a follow-the-leader approach.

Uli followed him all right. Riiiiiight up to the edge of the dock and then was like, "No way, man. I did that already and once was enough for me. I'll just watch you from here."

Can't win 'em all, I guess!

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