Here`s another great article:
I adopted an 8-year old Wheaten from a hoarding situation two months ago. He's heartworm positive, and we're about halfway through the treatment. When I brought him home, he adjusted amazingly quickly, and right away identified me as his "person" – was always so excited to see me when I got home, was eager to go outside for (short, due to the heartworm treatment) walks, loved to snuggle – I was really surprised, but so happy he made that quick adjustment. Up until a week ago he was making steady progress even considering he adjusted pretty quickly from the first; becoming more playful and affectionate, starting to make his preferences and personality known.
A week ago I was getting ready to take him outside and he was jumping around under my feet, and I accidentally stepped on one of his paws. It clearly hurt him a lot (just in the moment; shortly afterward I checked his leg and paw and it was fine, he wasn't sensitive to it at all so there's no lasting damage), and he immediately became incredibly fearful of the front hallway, where it happened. Shortly after this I had to take him to the vet and leave him overnight for his second set of heartworm injections, which I'm concerned he somehow associated with the paw stepping as "punishment." He's also now become very fearful of me, and it seems to be getting worse instead of better. He sometimes runs away from me when I approach him, he pees in submission when I get him out of his crate in the morning (I think because he knows the next thing we do is go to the scary front hallway), no more excited wiggles or tail wags when I get up in the morning and see him for the first time. Sometimes he'll sit all tucked up with his head bowed like he's waiting for me to punish him.
Did I really undo two months of bonding in ten seconds? And what would you recommend as the best way to repair the relationship? Right now I'm trying to treat this as though we're starting from scratch: I'm mostly ignoring him and giving him space in a sort of of "shut down" period, giving him treats any time he has to go in the scary front hallway or when I put his leash on (which he knows means he has to go through the hallway), plenty of praise, no smothering cuddling or eye contact, etc. Any other suggestions? I'm trying not to change too much so that I don't reinforce the fearful behavior, while still giving him the space to readjust. It just breaks my heart to think that a week ago I had a happy, well-adjusted dog and now because I was stupid and took half a step in the wrong direction, he thinks that home and his person are not safe.
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