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Introducing THE FEARFUL Bike

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:43 pm
by creiter
Alright, here is an easily conquerable fear of Duke's (well easy in the sense that it is very controllable). He is HORRIFIED of bikes and it frequently comes off as aggression, obviously an issue. Now that winter is approaching, I want to get him adjusted to seeing my stationary bike (eventually mobile) so next summer we can be prepared for REAL bikes.

He reacts horribly to bikes. Sometimes on walks he will dart the opposite direction as soon as he sees it. We are getting a little better at this and he can maintain composure if the bike is a long way off, especially if I see it first and start the distracting immediately (and turn directions!). The worst though is when he is in the car (which he normally loves) and we drive past a bike. Immediate reaction, growly barks and panting and general anxiety. If we are stuck at a stop light and this happens it turns in to full fledged barking.

He is obviously VERY threatened by the presence of a bike and I would really love to show him that bikes are not bad so for his sake he doesn't feel so unsafe near something so obviously lacking in danger.

Has anyone had any experience with this? What worked for your dog with the least amount of stress? Is it possible to overcome??? :P

My goal is to use BAT methods. Start from as far away from the bike as necessary where he can look at it without having a reaction, then reward him with praise and increasing the distance between him and the bike (giving him the functional reward of going away from the scary object). Then slowly work closer, reward, closer, reward, etc etc.... As soon as he accepts a still bike, start moving it from different distances away, and make sure he is still okay with it.

Any other tactics that worked for you and your dogs? Please and thank you!!

Re: Introducing THE FEARFUL Bike

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:03 pm
by Mooresmajestic
I would have to say the "not my dog" (shopping cart senario) from your other thread would work. Just substitute the bike for the cart, and move in smaller increments. Start with the bike "parked" by itself and get him over that. Then enlist a friend to just sit on the "parked" bike, then con a stranger (to him at least) to sit on the "parked" bike, then back to the friend walking next to the bike, then stranger walking the bike, then friend riding bike, then stranger riding bike.... After this is all "ok", then the 2 of you "walk" next to the bike, then you walk the bike astride it, then finally you ride the bike with him next to it.
Treat each step as a brand new exercise, because in his mind it is.

That's my ideas anyway.

Re: Introducing THE FEARFUL Bike

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:10 pm
by Mooresmajestic
Too slow to edit....

The person that is helping you should not at any point make eye contact with him or say anything. The most that they should do would be to quietly drop small pieces of super high value treats on the ground once he is over the majority of the fear and close to the person on the bike. This would basically turn the scary bike-man into a treat dispenser that expects nothing from him other than proximity.

The exercise can be done with or without this added step.