Many dogs are fearful when meeting strangers for the first time. You will encounter dogs that are reluctant to approach you, yet as a professional pet sitter it’s helpful to know how to best manage your introduction with a skittish dog.

Kathrine Breeden is the owner and operator of Be Kind to Dogs, a force-free dog training business in Phoenix, Arizona. Kathrine is a professional dog trainer and specializes in force-free dog obedience training with tips and tools that all professional pet sitters can adopt.

Kathrine is also a behavioral consultant and member of the No Shock Collar coalition. Her philosophy is that Force Free & Positive Training results in a dog that follows an owner because it wants to, rather than following out of fear. We wholly support force-free training and do not promote punitive training methods that include shock, prong, or choke collars.

The “Treat and Retreat” method is an effective practice when first meeting a client’s dog who is already fearful of humans. It’s important to start off with high-value treats. After conferring with your client regarding potential GI issues or food allergies, consider cooked, skinless, and cubed chicken for the best results.

The premise behind this method is tossing treats at the dog you are meeting with NO eye contact, NO talk, and NO touch. Wait for him/her to gobble the food and look to you for more.  Keep tossing the food, while keeping quiet, until the dog is comfortable approaching you for more, getting closer and closer each time.

We have found this method to be extremely effective when building a bond with reluctant and fearful dogs. Of course, most dogs will love you when you provide a yummy treat for them!  It’s those that typically have had bad experiences in their past that require a little more finesse and patience to warm up to humans and you, their soon-to-be-loved pet sitter.

A copy of Katherine’s hand-out is included below.

force-free training methods

To contact Katherine Breeden for more information about force-free training methods visit her website:

The above guidance is an excerpt from our 15-page outline “Pet Sitter Basics for Dog and Cat Care” available to members only. We’re here to help you achieve new heights in your pet sitting journey! Join NOW so we can grow together

Hugs from your Pet Pros @ AoPP