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Building a stronger bond & developing confidence using obstacles

By Sue Williams Bsc, GODT(MT), MCFBA, Chairwoman Guild of Dog Trainers 3 years ago 2551 Views

With puppies they are always going to encounter something which they are unsure of. This is totally normal and to be expected even with confident pups like Kali. What is important is that we guide and teach them how to respond to such a situation. Doing this correctly is vital as we are in effect teaching coping mechanisms and skills. Our response will determine whether our pup becomes more wary or decide it’s not so bad after all. As humans it is natural for us to want to reassure our puppy and comfort her telling her everything is going to be alright. The problem is that dogs are dogs and because of this fundamental fact they think like a dog which isn’t the same as us humans. To your puppy such reassurance is a reward and instead of decreasing the anxiety it increases it as you are unintentionally reinforcing it!

Just as pup will copy and look to its mother for guidance, once they leave the litter they do exactly the same with us. If we are worried or appear uncertain our pups will do the same so it’s important to have a calm, positive, self assured manner.

This week I utilised some of the obstacles on my K9 Assault course to strengthen the trust between Kali and I and at the same time have fun whilst working on our relationship and developing a stronger bond.

The course is unique and consists of a wide range of unusual obstacles which challenge a dog. It’s a bit like a ‘Go Ape’ for Dogs. Obstacles include wire bridges, moving floors, high dog walks, parallel bars, ladders and lots more exciting challenges. It is brilliant for confidence building and strengthening the bond between dog and owner. As Kali is only a puppy I couldn’t utilise all the obstacles as I don’t want to put her developing body under any stress, that said, we still have had lots to challenge us!

Obstacle work is fun and at the same time develops confidence. Kali is pretty confident in general but the obstacles still tested her and on occasions she was a little unsure. By adopting the correct attitude and directing in a calm confident manner I showed her that she could tackle wire floors she could see through and walk over surfaces that moved. Further more instead of being a bit scary it was actually fun!


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