Prevention

Scary Monster (Prepare for the Unexpected)

This is a series of exercises that we do with our puppy to get him comfortable with strange, weird, and unfamiliar movements and sounds that are fast and erratic. We call it the scary monster game, because you want to get the puppy comfortable with something that may otherwise be unusual and scary.

We want to ensure that our pup grows up to be confident and comfortable in all situations. Here we are just taking it a step further. This exercise also helps to ensure that the pup will be as comfortable as possible around children with their sudden movements and sometime lack of gentleness.

You can do this exercise at home and when you are out and about.

Everyone in the family can get involved. Children must be 100% supervised; it could be dangerous if the pup were to get frightened or overexcited. If this happens, stop and consider whether or not the child should be involved. Perhaps you will bring the noise and movement levels down a few notches and try again. Perhaps you will not involve the child for now.

Be as strange and erratic with your movements and sounds as possible. Be completely over the top! While you are making all of these strange moves and sounds, you will give the puppy treats. Go through a series of movements and sounds starting off relatively low key and working up to more off-the-wall antics. If at any time during the exercise the puppy is frightened (tries to run away, tucks tail underneath flat against the belly, or attempts to snap at your hand), settle down a bit. The object is not to scare the puppy, but to make sure that he is exposed to strange experiences and becomes comfortable with them.

stand on leash
scary monster 2
Exercise

Be sure to have a relatively hungry puppy and plenty of treats.

Two people can be involved, one to go through the motions, one to give the puppy treats. With just one person, you can have the leash on the pup. Just drop the leash on the floor and stand on it so both of your hands are free.

Whether there is one person or two involved, whoever is the “monster” will be in an upright position.

Start slowly and less erratically and build to the crescendo.

Bend down and take the pup’s fur in your hand, gently to start with and then a little rougher as you go along. (Never rough enough to hurt the puppy, but build to something the pup is not used too.) Reward with a treat.

Grab the pup’s fur on his back, his neck, his sides, under his belly. You should make contact with all parts of his body at some point or another. Reward with a treat.

Pay special attention to any parts that he may be especially sensitive with and aim to get him comfortable being suddenly grabbed, poked, or prodded there. Reward with a treat.

Very gently grab his tail. Never grab his tail and pull hard, it is part of his spine and you could injure him. Reward with a treat.

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Stand over the puppy in a way that he could perceive as threatening, squat down and make an erratic grab for different parts of his body. Remember, gentle and slower at first, then build to more off-the-wall moves.

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Tower over the pup, lunge toward him, jump over him from different angles.
Following each erratic movement, the puppy should get a tasty treat.
Combine the movements with some roars, grunts, and moans and other scary monster sound affects.

Objective

To have a dog that is comfortable with sudden movements, grabs, and strange and potentially scary sounds. Look at it as a heavy-duty socialization exercise, preparing him for anything and everything he may encounter.