QUESTION: I have a 8 month old female Norfolk puppy that I raised. She is a happy puppy but has never liked walking on a leash. She is pretty timid in public but not at home. She loves to play with the dogs. She is friendly when people come to my house. She went to a puppy social when she was 4 months old and did well. She will walk on a leash around our neighborhood if I'm walking her mother also. If she is by herself her tail is down and she is afraid. She will walk but does not like it. She is a very nice norfolk and I want to show her. I am wondering if you have any suggestions about how I might make her more confident. Thanks Robin
ANSWERHi Robin -We have two things to work on here. 1) Walking on leash happily and 2) Her general confidence level in new places. In order to really strut her stuff in the show ring, we need to work on both issues. Walking On Leash HappilyUse a nontightening collar, ideally a wide one. No slip collars. No narrow show leads right now.2) Take bait she LOVES. Pick her up, put a hunk of bait to her nose then place the bait on the floor where she can see it. Walk a couple of steps away, point her toward it, put her down and let her race to it. Great. Next time move farther away. You can play this game with her meals as well. Put on her leash. Put down her food bowl. Walk away and back she comes. Leash = good things!When that is going well, put down on piece, walk a few feet away and put down another. Move away, point her in the right direction, let her take you to one and then the other. You can also do the same thing with a friend. Give the bait to the friend then walk away, put the puppy down, and let her go! There are all sorts of variations of this game that can be used to create tails up confidence.Lastly, if there is a good clicker class around, take her. Clicker training can be a great tool for increasing a dog’s confidence and a fun way to teach ring behaviors as well. I’ve used it to teach tail and ears up for stacking with great success. And dogs cannot have their tail and ears up without feeling more confident at the same time. A win/win for your pup.WARNING: Be very careful not to present bait when the pup balks. That rewards the balking. Instead present the bait the moment the pup takes the slightest step toward you. That way movement forward causes the bait to appear. This is a case where a few seconds difference can make all the difference.General Confidence In New Place1) The most overwhelming time for any sensitive dog is the first few minutes in a new place. If those go well, the tone for the whole outing is set. If she comes out doubtful, she is likely to stay doubtful. So load up you van with a brand new squeaky toy, the BEST treats you can find and her mother. Go to the quiet end of a parking lot. (First we conquer new places, then we add in new faces.)2) Open up the back of your van/car so the pup can see what’s up. Ignore her. Take out her Momma. Stay where the pup can see you and praise Momma abundantly. As you praise her, give her one small treat at a time. Whee! This is fun! Now, put Momma away and ignore them both. Make a phone call. Check your twitter account on your iPhone. Go old school and read a book. 3) After a few minutes break, take out Momma and repeat the live entertainment. This time, when you put her back, take the puppy out. Do EXACTLY the same thing. If she takes the treats - great! Give her a couple and put her back in the crate. The biggest single mistake commonly made with such a pup is the “things are going so well I’ll just try this one more thing” syndrome. No! Things are going well - quick - put the pup back in her crate. Take a short break. Repeat.If treats don’t work, try playing happily with a squeaky toy. Or use both! The more the merrier when it comes to encouraging a puppy.Your goal? For the pup to see Momma relaxed and happy and want to join her. We want your pup thinking: Can I PLEASE come out of the crate? PLEASE??If this isn’t possible in a new place yet, play this same game in your driveway or kennel. Even in these locations she is learning the game. If she starts to bark in the crate excitedly SMILE. Do not correct this in her. We want her pushy and confident. We can deal with noisy later.Good luck and I hope she is at the end of her leash in new places tails up and showing off soon!FOLLOW UP: This owner worked with her bitch using the above techniques, then took her to a show. "... was fine in the stalls without a leash on. Wagging tail ect. .... She would walk on the leash away from the site but when we would come back and get close to the buildings and cars she would hunker down and act afraid. We are working on it and have made some improvements:) I will continue on !!