Belated birthday card…
found at b&n
Hey, Breaslan, thanks for your question! I think the best approach when a dog is fearful of something is desensitiziing and counterconditioning. Jasper had a bad experience with the hoop so now the sight of the hoop triggers a negative response. To correct that, he needs to become less triggered and begin to associate the hoop with something good (like his favorite food-my pup loves cheese and it’s easy to cut into little treat-sized pieces). Exposure is really the only way to desensitize and it will be a step-by-step process. For example, take him out to a park or field where one of your friends is holding the hoop the distance. It would be far enough away that he notices but doesn’t react. Reward him (this is the counterconditioning). Gradually bring the hoop in a few meters closer and reward him for not reacting. Do this over and over. It will take time before he can have the hoop near him and be ok with it. But, if you work on it with him every day, he should get much more comfortable with hoops. Once he is okay with a stationary hoop, then you would work with him in the same way with the hoop in motion. It is important to not yell at him or punish him; it would only increase the negative associations with the hoop.
Here’s a link to a great article on desensitization and counterconditioning for fearful dogs on the ASPCA website:
In the mean time, maybe put him in the house and hoop outside, so you can keep hooping while the training process is going on. If he is not responding well to the training, you could also get guidance/assistance from a reputable and certified animal trainer.
I would like to make sure you know I am not a trainer; this advice is based on how I work with my animals and books I’ve read. Good luck! And let me know how it goes. Big doggie hugs to Jasper!