Debbie Jacobs has been living with and training her fearful dog, Sunny, since she discovered him in a hurricane rescue camp in 2005. In this book, Debbie shares what she's learned, in order to help the owners of other scared/fearful/shy dogs.
"A Guide to Living With & Training a Fearful Dog" covers the basics of everything you need to know to help your fearful dog learn to cope better with the world around him.
Debbie writes about how Sunny came into her life, and what living with an extremely fearful dog is like. (Sunny came from an animal hoarding situation, where he missed out on crucial socialization with people as a puppy, and was further traumatized by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.) This sets the stage for the rest of the book, where she walks readers through what they'll need to know to help their own dogs
The advice Debbie gives can help any dog with fearful tendencies, whether they're "just a little shy" or cowering in a corner. Using a combination of training, counterconditioning (pairing good things with the dog's triggers to change how the dog feels about those scary things), and desensitization (keeping the dog "sub-threshold" rather than overwhelming him in fearful situations), Debbie has brought Sunny a long way since she first met him. She outlines these techniques in clearly understandable language.
Topics include "Training Jargon and Techniques," "Treats and Rewards," "Triggers and Thresholds: The Basics," and "Equipment and Supplies." Other chapters address specific situations and how to help your dog through them, such as "My Dog is Scared of Me" and "Getting a Dog to Play." (Play can be liberating and relaxing, but some fearful dogs never learned how to play.)
Each chapter in this book is short and to the point. Although packed with useful information, the book is a quick read. The book ends with a section on "Recommended Books" for those who want to learn more, from the authors Debbie turned to in her own journey with Sunny. (You'll find several of the same books reviewed here on this website: they're generally recognized as the "best of class" by dog-friendly trainers.)
If you have a fearful dog, or know someone who does, this book will get you started on the right path.