Follow by Email

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dog bite prevention week - waking up gently

An important excerpt from my newest book, Through A Dark Silence: Loving and Living with Your Blind and Deaf dog -

Teaching your dog to wake up gently:

"There is a myth that b/d dogs are dangerous because they will always bite when they are startled or woken up. Could this ever happen? Yes, it could. But it could also happen with a dog that can see and hear. Does it happen a lot? No. Most b/d dogs are no threat when startled. Can this scenario be prevented?  You can certainly lower the risk of this ever happening with your dog.
You can teach your b/d dog to wake up easily and happily. By teaching this skill to your new dog, you can prevent any issues from developing. Start training when your dog is awake and is aware of you near her. Touch your dog and then pop a wonderful treat into her mouth immediately. Don’t wait to see what your dog will do. There should be no lag time. Just touch and pop the treat into her mouth. Make these really special treats. You want your dog to really look forward to being touched.

Repeat this pattern of touch and treat many times quickly in succession. Then touch your dog and pause for just a moment before giving the treat. The sequence will become – touch, dog looks expectantly for treat, and then feed. Don’t pause too long, just long enough for your dog to show you that she knows the treat should come next.

In future sessions, touch different parts of your dog’s body. One touch equals one treat. As your dog becomes more tolerant of you touching various parts of her body, sneak in a random touch now and then when your dog is not expecting it. Be ready with that treat immediately. Be sure to continue to use great treats every time you touch her. The more you reward the touching, the better your dog’s response will be when she is surprised or woken up suddenly. You cannot do this exercise too much as long as you are rewarding every touch.

There may be times when your dog gets startled by a touch when you don’t have a food treat immediately handy. Try to minimize these as much as you can, but if it happens, be ready to reward your dog with something else she likes – a small game or lots of petting if your dog enjoys that. Being woken up or startled should always mean good stuff for your dog!

When your dog is sleeping, though, be respectful. Don’t wake your dog up unless it’s necessary. When you do need to wake her up, do it gently. Walk heavier as you approach your dog so she can begin to feel the vibrations through the floor. When you get close to her, you can blow on her gently to wake her up. If your dog is lying on a blanket, you can wiggle the edge of the blanket to gently shake her awake. If your dog is still asleep, you can progress to brushing her gently with your hand. It is best to touch your dog on her body, not her face.  That’s just for safety in case she does wake up with a startle.  Your hand will be away from her mouth.

Be prepared for a startle if your dog is sleeping soundly. Startling is a normal response. Just make sure that you are quickly offering your dog something wonderful! Usually the dog will recover immediately once she recognizes that it is you, and when you offer something tasty to eat, she will forget all about being startled. Be aware that your b/d dog may need you to use your hands to steady her as she wakes up. She may be disoriented as she wakes up suddenly and may jump up and bump into things nearby.  Maintaining a firm but gentle touch to her body will let her know you are there while you offer the food right near her nose.

Remember that startling is a normal response. You will probably not ever get rid of it completely. But you can diminish how much the startle bothers your dog by rewarding frequently.  And with lots of practice, you may notice your dog waking up easier and easier each time!"
To purchase a copy of Through a Dark Silence, click HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Deb, I found this idea in your book and immediately tried it.
    It has worked well with both my b/d collie and my b/d Sheltie. Thank you!