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Hello. I have a 6 month old rat terrier that we got at 8 weeks old. From day one he was anxious and nervous around people and will still bark at people on walks. We got him 3 days before the pandemic shutdown. Do I just continue with the positive treats while seeing people. Or does anyone suggest giving small corrections when I see the barking/reactivity about to begin ? I want to nip this in the bud now. I hope it‘a not too late.
 

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Don't correct an anxious dog. That's very likely to result in a dog who feels their anxiety is justified because the scary thing causes discomfort, so often you'll see escalation to more intense and even aggressive behavior as the dog attempts to make the scary thing go away. You can try to redirect him when you see signs he's about to react, especially if you've trained a really solid 'watch me' or U-turn type behavior. Getting him to disengage from the trigger is a big step in the right direction, and you can reward that with food and by putting distance between the two of you and the scary thing.

The easiest time to work with these issues is in the first 16 weeks of a dog's life, but that doesn't mean it's hopeless now. Take outings to areas where you can watch people go by at a distance (store parking lots can often work well), and just hang out with your pup, rewarding and praising calmly. Don't allow people to approach or interact with him if possible - that's one thing that the pandemic might actually have made easier. The important thing for him to learn at this stage is that people at a distance are okay and causes good things to happen, not scary things. You can slowly introduce situations where people are closer or there are more people around as he improves, but go at his pace and try not to make things harder until he seems comfortable and more confident.

You can also try training games that help improve confidence. Trick training is actually awesome for this, and can help you and your dog develop a 'language' that improves his anxiety and strengthens your bond. Nosework games are also excellent, as sniffing is naturally calming for a dog. This can be as simple as hiding treats around your home or yard for him to hunt out. Again, great for reducing overall stress and building overall confidence, both of which should help with reactivity.
 
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