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Patience is the key with a camera-shy dog. Because the dog is experiencing fear, the goal is to help him build up confidence and to feel secure around the camera. Doing so takes a while, but it’s totally possible. If your dog exhibits signs of fear around your camera, follow these steps to desensitize her:

  1. Sit on the floor with your camera in your lap and allow your dog to approach at her own pace.

    Talk in a high-pitched “happy” (but soothing) voice and praise her as she starts to move toward you.

  2. Provide treats when she gets close enough to you and allow her to sniff your camera while it remains in your lap.

  3. After she sniffs the camera, be sure to provide more treats.

  4. Raise the camera a few inches off of your lap very slowly while watching how your dog responds to this action.

    If she backs up in fear, you’ve probably raised the camera too high or too fast on your first try, so work in smaller increments. Each time you raise the camera and your dog stays near or moves closer to investigate, praise and treat her.

  5. Continue to raise your camera in very slow increments while rewarding her at each stage, until the camera is high enough to look through the viewfinder.

  6. When you’re able to raise your camera without Trudy running for the hills, press your shutter release, give her a treat, and then rest.

    Pet and reassure her, and then repeat. Keep it slow, and stay tuned to how Trudy reacts because she’ll always let you know if you’re moving too fast.

Never force a dog when she’s scared. The goal here is to build up trust and confidence. If you start forcing her to do something she’s afraid of, she’ll lose trust in the activity and possibly lose trust in you in general. If she’s not ready for something, your job is to wait.

Desensitizing a scared dog to the camera may take some time, but with enough patience, they always seem to come around. It’s all about making this a positive, fun experience, so reward every bit of progress, no matter how small!

Keep your voice calm, and try not to raise it too loud, even when you’re praising. Any jump in tone or volume can sometimes alarm a timid dog. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break and try again later!

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