Do nothing other than make your dog happy about being on the mat in this location. Do this by putting it in a DOWN/STAY position on the mat, then feeding it a food reward. Scratch your dog’s chest, squeak and squawk at it and generally make it happy. Be a bit firm though. Your dog is to stay on the mat and YOU are to be in control. After a minute or so, walk a few metres away from the mat, return, command your dog to ‘SIT DOWN and STAY’ and if this is completed properly, liberally praise it again.
A friend of the family now approaches the two of you while you are under the tree. Presumably this friend will not induce fear or aggression. This friend should also squeak and squawk at your dog to make your dog happy about his or her approach. When close enough, this person should give your dog a food reward. Repeat five times each session.
If all goes well, at the end of these five days, your dog should love the new routine and should look forward to it.
We have achieved something significant. Your dog is now enthusiastic about the approach of a person while it is on the mat and when given the Kabana food rewards. The mat and the food rewards are portable and you can take them anywhere. They are happy switches and you now have a conditioned behaviour.
Having achieved the above,
you now ‘stretch the boundaries’ by changing, slowly, some of the parameters. Below is a diagram of the process. The Critical Point is where your dog may start to get noisy. This is the point where you will need to spend some time and go slowly. Once past this point, progress should be rapid.
This is the first ‘stretch’ of the boundaries – we have two choices here – either change the location or change the person. You can choose whichever is easier for you.
Change the Person: – Stay in the park for this period, but have a different person visit you in the park. You could also change the image of the visiting person by having him or her dress in unusual clothes or by having them put paper bags or boxes over their head!!! The process is the same as before. The new person approaches in a friendly manner and you retain control over your dog’s behaviour, but still induce happiness.
Change the Location:- This is an alternative process. Retain the services of your friend but move to a more intense location – closer to a foot path or bike track for instance. For this, initially, you will need to choose a quiet time of day when no-one else is likely to walk past to induce fear or aggression. Have your dog on the mat in the yard. You should sit beside your dog and have its lead on its collar, and have gentle control over it using “Down Stay”.
Your friend approaches down the path. She or he greets your dog enthusiastically and gives her a food reward, but only if your dog is quiet. Again, you and your friend should enthusiastically praise the desired happy and quiet behaviour.
If any excited behaviour occurs – use the “Bad Dog – Good Dog” Routine (provided) to discipline the behaviour using the work “LEAVE” or ‘QUIET’ as the voice punisher. Remember to praise the behaviour you want – the non excited behaviour that results after your QUIET command. Using a minimum of punishment is better, as punishment may heighten aggression and nervousness.
Day 8 and onwards – Further stretching of the boundaries
At, say, 10 metres from the bike track or path, place your dog in its Down Stay position and wait for strangers to walk down the path. Watch for unsettled behaviour and, if it occurs, use the word LEAVE to regain control.
If you are not successful, walk off in the opposite direction until you can control your dog’s behaviour. Once your dog is responding to your commands, praise this behaviour.
Repeat this process ten times, (with ten approaching strangers) over one session. Conduct, say, five sessions over a seven to ten day period if possible.
If you are successful at 10 metres, then move to five metres.
The remainder of the process is to get closer and closer to the footpath or bike track.
Other Things to Do:
If your dog is aggressive towards specific individuals, such as children, men in uniforms or those wearing hats, your first responsibility is to make sure such people are safe.
If possible, get these people to give your dog a food reward, but on the end of a ruler of long piece of folded paper. The people are safer from attack and the dog will feel less threatened. You can reduce the length of the ruler as success results.