At Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear, we design all our toys with the expertise of our in-house training expert Matt Rouse in mind. But sometimes, there’s nothing quite like getting tips from the people we make them for – our lovely customers!
Gill Clarke, from Northampton, owns and trains two miniature schnauzers called Vinny, 2, and Bella, 4.
Bella was bought as a family pet but got into showing by accident after taking part in a fun show. She has since gone on to qualify for Crufts and has won her agility group two years out of three.
But despite her success in the show ring, Bella faces one big training challenge – like lots of dogs, she is noise shy.
We asked Gill for her tips on training Bella to beat her fear. Here’s what she had to say…
- Go for lots of noisy walks
As well as big runs in parks and fields, I often take Bella for walks along pavements next to fairly busy roads. Lorries, buses and motorbikes can be really noises so when one approaches or passes by I reward her with a treat. This has really helped build up her tolerance to these kind of noises which were a bigger trigger for her at the beginning.
- Train near the noise
I’ve found it helps to find a spot that is far enough from the noise not to spook Bella, but close enough that she still has to deal with it, to do some training. A particularly good place we’ve found is to sit in a car park facing some traffic, either in or outside the car. I offer rewards for simple behaviours such as nose touches, ‘sit’ and ‘down’.
- Build tolerance into everyday situations
I started gently banging the lids of the wheelie bins while scatter feeding and I have been banging it louder and louder every time I feed her until it no longer bother her. Progress was slow with this as I did it very gradually but it has worked well.
- Make making noise fun
I created a game where Bella has to knock over some noisy tin cans or metal food bowls, with a food treat or one of her favourite Tug-E-Nuff toys as a reward. She’s done really well with this and is now completely used to the noise, which used to startle her.
- Use high value rewards
I think it’s important to use high value treats to really reward the effort Bella makes. I also don’t just use her favourite food, but games too. Sometimes a playful game of tug with one of her Tug-E-Nuff toys does the trick. However, Bella is a foodie at heart so The Clam (which combines a toy with a tasty treat) has been a revelation for us and really motivates her.
Got any tips on training noise shy dogs you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them over on our Facebook page or leave us a comment below.