In teaching the high-strung dog to Heel and Sit you must never aggravate his tem- perament. Your manner must be one of assurance, your tone should be quiet and authoritative, and you should remember that this type of dog is very sensitive.
A shy dog will learn to Sit after two or three taps and can be encouraged to work by your voice. If he should Sit behind you, do not push him with your foot. Encour- age him to Sit straight by your side by holding your fingers in front of his nose and asking him to step up into a straight Sit. Do not jerk him to make him Sit.
The shy dog is apt to lag behind because of his timidity. You must talk him up by your side continually, and slap your left leg occasionally to encourage him. Reach down and pet him gently as you Heel so he will be happy to be close to you. Don’t be surprised if he ducks away from your hand as you reach to pet him, for he will be suspicious of everything. If necessary, hold him by the ruff while you pet him until he gets used to it.
The shy dog may be afraid of people, noises, strange places, storms, other dogs, or anything flapping in the wind. Whatever he fears must be overcome by working him in that environment.
You should always be calm and assured. A nervous dog is easily panicked. It takes the utmost patience and many hours of work to succeed, for you must first heal his mind before you can get through to him to train him.
The dog must trust you completely, and if you make one harsh correction you may ruin your earlier work or add many more weeks of additional training before you regain his confidence.
Even when this type of dog is expertly trained he may someday be frightened into disobedience by an unexpected incident or an overwrought mind. Praise, patience, understanding, and firmness compose the formula you will need.
I trained three dogs of this type (not Topper, Hussan, and Arry), and they each became top workers and won many firsts with very high scores. The judges and spectators admired their spirit and gaiety and never realized their true temper- aments.
It was a long, grueling process reshaping their personalities and giving them courage and fortitude. But I proved to myself that it could be done, and that satisfaction was rewarded enough.
However, there are shy, nervous dogs that never entirely overcome their fears. Despite the fact that they have been trained with kindness, praise, and under- standing, there will be instances when they appear to be cowed.
While the overall improvement is about ninety-five percent, the true character of the dog will be evident when he shrinks away from being petted or approaches the handler timidly.
To a judge, this may look as if the dog has been harshly trained or overtrained. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A firm “No” given in a moderate tone of voice is the only correction necessary for this type of dog. The balance of the training is spent trying to encourage the dog to work, through patience and kindness.