Adaptation of a wild dog: initiative and human contact. How to tame a wild dog?
“We must be patient,” the fox answered. - First, sit over there, at a distance, on the grass - like that. I will glance at you askance, and you are silent. [...] But every day, sit a little closer ...
Antoine de Saint-Exupery "The Little Prince"
How can you make contact with a wild dog? At the very beginning of the path, we will follow the advice of the wise Fox: to sit at a distance, look askance, every day to get closer.
How to make contact with a wild dog and teach her initiative?
We must give the wild dog time to look at us, to sniff. Do not rush into this matter. I highly recommend starting work on adapting a wild dog at a distance: we go into the room and check at what distance the dog is not so afraid of our presence that it starts to growl or cling to the wall. It is at this distance that we sit on the floor (or you can even lie down - the lower we are to the ground, the less danger we pose to the dog).
We sit down sideways, do not look into the eyes, demonstrate reconciliation signals (more fully about reconciliation signals can be found in the book Tyurid Ryugas “Signals of reconciliation”, which I recommend to read to each volunteer, curator or dog owner).
A presence session lasts at least 20 minutes, during which we can chant read aloud so that the dog gets used to our voice and its modulations. We can eat sandwiches, from time to time tossing small pieces to the dog. At first, she will not eat them in your presence, but the appetite comes with eating.
And gradually, every day, we approach a step or two along a conciliatory arc to the dog. Our goal: to start sitting in close proximity to the house on the side of it, along its long part.
When the dog let us close enough (usually it takes from a day to five if we work simultaneously on the number of walls of the house, on predictability and diversity, that is, we perform complex work), we begin to sit, read aloud and there are sandwiches in the immediate vicinity of the dog. We begin to touch its side (and there is already close to TTach massage).
Before leaving the premises, we leave the dog search and fur (you can use faux fur) toys.
Of the classic and simplest search toys, I recommend leaving 1 - 2 shoe boxes filled to half with crumpled pieces of toilet paper, where we drop a few omens of food before leaving. Let the dog examine the box and begin to delve into it in search of goodies. Gradually, we can complicate the task by covering the boxes with lids, constructing structures from several lids that will fall and make noise when the dog tries to get food. This is what we need, we strive to explain to the dog that initiative and stubbornness lead to a reward: brawler, insolent!
To further complicate the task, you can skip over the top of the box with fabric ribbons in the form of a lattice - stick your muzzle inside, fight with a slight tension of the ribbons, get food.
You can take a tennis ball, drill a hole in it, rinse from the inside and fill in the feed. On the one hand, we teach the dog to insist on his actions - rolling a ball, the dog receives a reward in the form of a spill-out food. On the other hand, a dog gets acquainted with toys in this way.
I do not really like to use production toys for dispensing delicacies like Kong in practice with wild dogs, as they are usually made of material that is not very clear and pleasant to a wild dog. These are domestic dogs that are ready to play with everything they find, will chew hard rubber or try to drive a solid plastic toy.And I actively recommend buying Conga to owners of domestic dogs who tend to bite inappropriate items at home or howl alone. But in my opinion, a wild dog needs something softer, not inhibiting the manifestation of the initiative by unpleasant tactile sensations. That is why - soft toilet paper or put vertically into a shoe box sleeve from toilet paper rolls, or well-ventilated wine bottle corks. That is why the tennis ball is rather soft for dog jaws. Or a rug made of fleece ribbons, inside of which is laid a little feed.
Our task at this stage is to provoke the dog to take action - let him study the room and try it for a tooth.
If we are talking about ordinary, non-food, toys, I recommend leaving stuffed, plush toys like Skinneeez skins indoors. We remember that we want to teach the dog to play, because her ability to play and interest in the game will subsequently help us in training and making contact. The feeling of fur in the mouth includes the basic instincts of the dog - to tear and slow down the prey. If the toy also squeaks at the same time, as Skinneeez do - excellent, this is an imitation of hunting for a furry animal. There are also special fur toys that can be filled with food.
At first, the little wild dog will explore the proposed toys alone, but as soon as he realizes that these toys give food, impatience with the desire to get to them will quickly lead to the dog starting to look for pieces in the shoe box in your presence. This is exactly what we need! Now we will be able to encourage and praise the voice for pushing the box, for stubbornness in the search for food.
We must also remember to play with distances. First, we put a bowl of food or a box of treats right next to the shelter. Then gradually remove the bowl / box further and further, causing the dog to move around and explore the room. At that moment, when the dog lets us in, we again offer a bowl or box in the immediate vicinity of the house, but from our hands.
If the dog began to delve into the box or eat from a bowl that a person holds in his hand, pull yourself together and do not stroke the dog - let her be sure that eating from a bowl that the person holds is not scary. Anyway ... if we eat something tasty, but at that moment we start to stroke, even a loved one, how pleasant is his caress to us? I would honestly say something not very pleasant.
As soon as the dog starts eating from the bowl that the person is holding in his hands, I highly, highly recommend stopping feeding from the bowl and switching to feeding from the hands. This is a pretty important point in making contact. The dog begins to perceive the human hand as a nursing hand, at the same time we can already fix some behavioral moments and begin to study simple tricks, such as “Eyes” (when the dog gets a piece for looking into his eyes), “Nose” (the dog gets a piece for touching the person’s palm with his nose), “Give a paw” (the dog receives a piece for giving the paw to the person), the simplest search game, which consists in finding the dog in which of the two fists a piece is hidden.
These are the simplest tricks that the dog quickly offers itself, because they come from the dog’s natural behavior. And at the same time, they teach the dog how to interact with the person, explain to her that the person, in fact, is her personal large dining room, only you need to understand what kind of behavior the transfer case opens for, and let the person not worry about the fact that at first it is of purely mercantile interest to the dog. I’ll say what I have already said several times: everything has its time.
What methods to use to adapt a wild dog to life in the family?
I will separately dwell on the methods of working with a wild dog.Although, to be honest, in my personal practice they are no different from the methods of working with domestic dogs.
I sincerely believe that it is only necessary to work with a wild dog using mild methods, the operant training method, in which the dog is an active participant in the training, learns the world and tries to guess what is wanted of it. We can tell her with guidance (when we point the dog at the right action with a piece), because for a shaping dog that perfectly teaches the dog self-confidence and initiative, the wild dog is not ready yet. But I am categorically against the use of aversive teaching methods. Global practice and statistics show the failure of these methods of work, especially with wild dogs. And this is logical: if, upon imposing a foreign language study on you, the teacher will regularly yell at you and beat you with a ruler, will you want to continue studying the language that you did not initially need? At what lesson will you break down, express everything that you think to the teacher, and leave, slamming the door?
Why choose the method in which the dog is an active participant? Remember, we have already mentioned more than once that initiative walks hand in hand with self-confidence, and both qualities help fight distrust, caution and fear - the behavioral characteristics that most wild dogs show.
In addition to the toys that we leave in the room where the dog is located, I also recommend leaving a leash - let the dog have the opportunity to get to know him before we hook him to the harness.