MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
Click photo to visit

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Leading trainer says even fearful dogs can be helped with gentle approach

Fetch Blog,

Of all the dogs that nationally known dog trainer and author Nicole Wilde helps, fearful animals are close to her heart.

“This is the issue that is so, so important,” the California-based Wilde said Friday. “At stake is the dog’s quality of life and even whether or not it will have a home.”

That’s because a very large proportion of what people call aggression issues actually is fear-based, she said. “Its like, ‘hey, big person, stay away, stay away,’ ” she explained.

Wilde, who has written a book titled “Help Your Fearful Dog” (, will present an all-day workshop June 12 at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley focused on helping fearful dogs. Attending will be a variety of animal care professionals, but Wilde hopes everyday dog owners will come, too.

“I love it when owners come,” she said. “They leave with specific techniques to help their pets.”

Wilde and her partner operate a company called Gentle Guidance in Santa Clarita, Calif. She presents seminars around the world to trainers, rescue/shelter workers and dog owners. She has written eight books and writes an Ask The Expert column for Modern Dog magazine.

She believes there are a number of reasons dogs can be fearful. One is simply genetics, possibly due to over-breeding. Maybe the animal has been traumatized. The biggest problem may be that the pet has not been adequately socialized with people and other dogs.

“The window for optimal socialization is 4 to 12 weeks of age,” Wilde said. “You can socialize a dog after that, but it is more difficult.”

based on force won’t work, she said.

“Be patient and work at the dog’s pace,” Wilde explained. “You’re not forcing the dog to confront its fears. Introduce the dog to things in a gradual manner.”

She describes this as classical conditioning, a principle drveloped by the Russian scientist Pavlov.

Shelter dogs are not necessarily more fearful, Wilde said, even though some may suffer separation anxiety as a result of being abandoned.

“If you get a shelter dog as a puppy you have a better shot,” she said. “But even if a shelter dog has fear issues, you still can make progress.”

Wilde may be at the top of her profession, but she served her time in the trenches.

“A lot of my background came from wolf-dog hybrids,” she said, “I worked for a shelter and even went to people’s homes for free. My whole goal was to help them keep those animals. This
is why I got into it.”

But she had to work outside jobs to keep her efforts going, so she helped form Gentle Guidance.

Now, Wilde is a faculty member and on the advisory board for the Companion Animal Sciences Institute.

For information about her June 12 appearance in Boulder or other opportunities at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns  
Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life

Blog: Dawn Kairns and Maggie the Dog  
Twitter: themaggiebook

No comments :