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Pug is Afraid of TV?

I have a Pug that's almost 4 years old. All of a sudden when she was standing in front of the TV, something flashed on the screen when it changed scenes and she ran behind the couch and now she won't come in the room when the TV is on. She has always accompanied us in the evening and sat beside us until bedtime. We can't coax her to come sit by us at all now. Any suggestions? She's never been abused and is a very spoiled dog. Thanks.

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By Larry H. from Yuba City, CA

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March 4, 20121 found this helpful
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You need to associate the TV on with rewarding experiences for your pup. First, get some really good treat - something that your dog gets ONLY while doing this exercise. I suggest you use Natural Balance dog meat rolls or Pet Botanics (only at PetsMart) meat rolls. I'm a dog trainer and use these meat rolls for my training rewards. Cut a portion of the roll into small pea-size treats, a small bag full, be sure to refrigerate the roll and the pieces.

Carry your dog into the room (no treats yet), sit on the floor with her while you hold a treat in front of her nose, turn on the TV at the same time you give her the treat. Leave the TV on while you give her three more treats (1 treat every couple of seconds) and then turn off the TV. Repeat this step five times and then leave the room the last time you turn off the TV.

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Repeat this exercise at least 2x/day with at least 2 hours between each exercise repetition, for at least 2 days OR until your dog shows NO fear when you reach to turn on the TV. The purpose of this is to teach your dog that turning on the TV results in her getting very special treats.

Once your dog is calm when you turn on the TV, you will repeat this exercise but this time give her one minute of treats. Not 60 treats, but at least 10, so that she learns the longer the TV is on, the more treats she gets. Every time you feed her a treat say, "Let's watch TV!" Repeat this exercise several times each day for three days.

Note: Be sure to make the treats a portion of her daily food allotment so You don't worry about her gaining weight and give her too few rewards. There is no reason for a dog to gain weight from meat roll treats; just make them a part of her overall food plan for the day.

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Step 3 is to say to your dog, "Let's watch TV" and she should come running to the area you've been practicing. When she gets to you, give her a reward, turn on the TV and give her random rewards until the next commercial comes on. Then stop the rewards, let the TV run, and walk out of the room until the commercials are done. Then return to the room saying "let's watch TV", and repeat the random rewards until the next commercial.

Step 4 is to say "let's watch TV", go to your chair or sofa, give her random rewards the entire time the show is on. As the days go by, you'll be able to space out the amount of time between these rewards until you can simply give her a stuffed Kong or special bone when you start watching TV and that will be the end of the issue.

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Words to the wise - do NOT rush this process or you'll only end up shooting yourself in the foot. Do NOT progress to the next step until she shows no fear at the current step. Never put her on a leash, wrap her in a blanket or hold her in your arms because she'll feel trapped and that only intensify her fear. Use a very special treat that she gets only for this exercise - do not use for other training purposes until she has successfully overcome this fear issue. And dry biscuits or her dry food won't cut it; use the meat roll or special cheese or whatever she thinks is the best reward in the world. This food reward is meant to please her, not to please you. Have fun while doing this exercise; laugh, play, keep it light. She needs to know that you think this a fun exercise not a pain for you to do to help her. Dogs are expert body language interpreters and if you sigh, grimace, or show frustration your dog will know it and you will be intensifying her fear.

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Finally - Be sure that she doesn't have any peripheral eye issues or hearing issues that may have contributed to her fear of whatever happened on the screen.

Good luck! You and your sweet Pug can soon become good friends with the TV again!

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 846 Posts
March 4, 20120 found this helpful

Rather than try to coax her to choose to come in to be with you during TV time perhaps you could make sure a quiet, peaceful show/movie is on the screen, wrap her in her favorite blanket or towel, take her in the room with you and place her in your lap. Talking sweetly and gently stroking her will be soothing to her and help her relax.

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Perhaps you could even give her one of her favorite treats while she's sitting in your lap as a reward for being with you after a few minutes too. It may takes a few efforts but she will eventually be less afraid because you're reassuring her that the TV is not a bad and scary thing.

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