October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and the local humane society is discounting the adoption fee for dogs and cats more than 6 months old.
OK, you have already taken advantage of this promotion and have your dog, but the animal is afraid of cars and doesn’t want to leave your property. What happens now?
This is a case of earning the dog’s trust, and it has to be done slowly with lots of praise and rewards. You may have to teach your new family member to accept and walk on a leash. You may have to introduce him to a collar. Let’s start with a correctly sized collar, not too big but with enough holes to keep it from slipping over the head. With the dog sitting, put the collar on, leaving it loose in the beginning. Praise and click the clicker or offer a treat and remove the collar. Put it on and off with praise and rewards until the dog looks forward to the collar. Work with the leash the same way. Snap it on, let the dog move about while you hold the leash and praise him for doing it. Once the dog accepts the leash, try walking a few steps with the leash held loosely.
Walk the dog up to the car. When that doesn’t alarm the animal, walk around the car. Then open a door and walk around the car, follow up by placing a treat on the floorboard of the driver’s side. Praise the dog as he reaches in to get the treat. Next, place a treat on the floor and another one on a seat. Really praise the dog when he retrieves both treats.
With the dog sitting beside you, start the car, let it idle for a few moments and turn it off. By now, the dog should be learning to trust you. Take short drives and always praise and reward him when you return home. Now you are ready to go visiting.
Work with your veterinarian. I took one of my shy rescue dogs for a quick visit first. We walked in, allowed a few sniffs, greeted the staff and walked out. A couple of days later, you can visit again and, depending on how the dog reacts, you may be able to see the veterinarian.
Once his general health has been accessed and necessary shots have been given, make arrangements to board him. The first time, plan for one hour, then a day or two later, board him for a morning, leaving the dog’s blanket with him for reassurance. If necessary, try an overnight board even though the dog is healthy. It will be less stressful when the dog is sick and has to stay overnight with the vet.
Note to the reader asking about Treibball: Treibball is an advanced training sport. Teach your dog to play “push ball” which I described in last week’s column, and when you and your dog are ready to progress, go to the American Treibball Association website at www.americantreibballassociation.org and get their handbook for learning and playing the sport as well as where to find other Treibball enthusiasts that you might team up with.