Sometimes we can overdo the negative part of the training and not spend enough time on the positive part – the result is that the dog will not go in the yard at all. This should not happen if you go slowly and gradually through the training steps. But, what do you do if something goes wrong and you go too fast.
We have a 2 1/2 yr old female Black Lab/Mastiff – we installed the wireless PetSafe fence. I believe my boyfriend rushed the training and that since our dog was catching on really fast, he rushed the training and allowed her to receive a correction(s) to quickly (2nd day!!)- nor did he even complete the entire two weeks with her! Now the dog is terrified/traumatized! Every time we put the collar on her she cowers at the door or in a corner of the yard far from the boundary line- we cannot put the collar on inside the house as we can’t get her out without literally dragging her by the collar and we will not do that. Worse, we live in the country and it’s pitch black out here at night, the dog is black and I can’t see her at night when I let her out to “potty”, I’ve been using a little flashing light that clips to her collar and even that freaks her out now when it never did before – she won’t move let alone go out to do her business. Even after I take the light off, she remains in this “psychologically traumatized”/ “paralyzed with fear” state for hours, or sometimes the entire day. I’ve tried to retrain her correctly on the fence following the steps on the instructional DVD to the letter, but she is just too terrified and pulls at the leash trying to get away and go hide- she’s 90lbs of muscle- more Mastiff strength than Lab strength- I know Labs are HUGE manipulators so I’m not sure if she is “playing” us, or if there really is some psychological trauma going on from receiving a correction(s) too soon. This has also botched up the leash training I was doing with her (previous owners did not leash train her). Any advice and coaching you can offer is appreciated more than you will ever know! Thank you so much!
When we train the dog, we want two things for them to have good associations with the safe area, and to have bad associations with the area beyond the boundary. Our dog has just gone a bit too far on the latter and not enough on the former. The trick now is to get her to have more good associations with the safe area. If you find her over-focusing on fear, redirect her energy by giving her something else to do.
I would turn down the correction level on the PetSafe Wireless so that it is at medium or below. Whatever correction she got left enough of an impression that we can pretty safely turn it down.
Then I would do some sessions with her, where you confidently lead her outside. You really have to be strong and lead with absolute certainty, you don’t want her picking up that you may be concerned. Then I would just play with her in the safe area. I would also encourage you to give her toys or bones in that area. Some people will even feed the dog in the safe area. All this is gradually going to get her to be more comfortable about being int he safe area of the yard. All that plus plenty of time and she will be fine.
It often helps if you do these exercises after the dog has gone for a walk and is tired.
Don’t worry about training her on the boundary for now, we can work on that once you have her back to being cautious in the back yard.
PS – take it easy on the boyfriend. Impatience, rushing things, and not following directions are all unfortunate side effect of being a man. We are dumb, but we are trying to help.
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