From 1 inch to over 20 feet; The Story of the Ultimate Underdog

My Jo and his 20 ft 5 in Jump.  Thanks the Proof Booth for the Photo

My Jo and his 20 ft 5 in Jump. Thanks the Proof Booth for the Photo

I live with the ultimate underdog… well maybe not THE; but I venture to bet he is ONE of them!

At 9 weeks my oldest Belgian Malinois (yes I know only crazy people have more than one… and a Dutch Shepherd!) was a quivering ball of fear.

He has spent too much of his life dealing with fears and phobias, and because of that I feel bad for him.  Nothing should be that scared of regular things (like our new recliner, for more on that and how to help a fearful dog click here)

We Don’t Coddle Him

He is afraid of the ceiling fan (still at 3 years old) but we don’t keep from turning them on, he is afraid of my hair dryer but I don’t stop drying my hair when I need to, he was afraid of the chair but we didn’t throw it away, and he was a little nervous about dock diving but we didn’t stop working with him.

Living in a neutral house and never going out is not the answer either.  If you do that your dog will only marinade in his own fears and begin obsessing over new ones.

If you work on counter conditioning and desensitization your dog will learn to overcome his fears and it will build his confidence within his world.

My boy has always liked to swim, and we worked with him to teach him to jump off of a dock at our local lake; which he and my female dog “Fury” love.

He has these HUGE long spider like legs and he is muscled to the hilt, so jumping off of docks and swimming should kind of come natural to him.

They Love Diving Thanks CWP Photography

They Love Diving Thanks CWP Photography


But learning to jump off of a two foot dock into a clear blue pool with a ton of spectators around cheering and screaming can be overwhelming to a nervous dog to say the least.

Thankfully our first event was an Ultimate Air Dog event and they are willing and happy to help you teach your dog and help them learn the pool.

I like their organization because they want everyone to learn and progress and give you extra time to help your dog make that final plunge.

He would do pretty well in practice; I think because the stands weren’t full of screaming people and there is no PA system.

But as soon as the lights were on, the music was blaring and people were all around him looking and cheering, he had a harder time focusing on jumping in the water.

So Milt Wilcox and the team at Ultimate Air Dogs encouraged him and gave him a little extra time.  As long as he was trying to get into the water he was allowed to try and think about it (no pushing is allowed because you don’t want to force them or scare them) and work his way into the water.

His shortest jump was 1 inch.

I swear he was like Jello falling off of the dock, or a snake slithering into the water.

There was no real jump in it, more of an acquiescing to the pool and the water.

We, well, mostly my husband have kept up with it.

Love This Photo of Her She Looks Like a Shark!  Thanks CWP Photography for this Photo

Love This Photo of Her She Looks Like a Shark! Thanks CWP Photography for this Photo

Honestly we went a year and waited for the same event and entered both dogs again.

This year was better, he was keeping up with my dog and they were jumping about 17 feet into the water.

But this weekend he beat his personal best.

He has gone from 1 inch to 20 feet 5 inches!

What an amazing feat to be able to overcome his fears and increase his distance to this degree.  I am quite proud of him!

Moral of The Story

The moral of the story is to work with your dog to overcome his fears.  Don’t lock him away and hope they will get better or allow yourself to rationalize that staying at home and avoiding the things he fears is actually what he wants and better for him.

Life can be scary.  I wish it wasn’t but life is full of things we don’t necessarily want to face; but as humans we know that we have to deal with them at some point.

Your dog doesn’t have the ability to think deep like this; he would rather avoid anything he doesn’t like.

But if you work with him, at his pace, together you can overcome almost anything!

For help specifically with aggression click here.

Start Calming Down Your Over Excited Dogs Today!

Your First Lesson’s FREE:

Sign up below and we’ll email you your first “Training For Calm” lesson to your inbox in the next 5 minutes.


  1. Bob says:

    Can u give me some tips on how to stop my 1 year old Golden from jumping on everyone and pulling me when I walk him. It is becoming a chore instead of a pleasure!
    Hopefully u can help,


    Minette Reply:

    Read this

    and this article and the articles that are highlighted in it


  2. Chris Abode says:

    Very helpful. The experience beneficial.


  3. Lori Agostino says:

    I have a female mixed lab; she was taken away from her mom and siblings when she was only 5 weeks (long story) she is scared of: hats, skies,kids and of other dogs that she doesn’t know.. when we watch TV she barks and gets agitated when she sees any kind of animal and kids.. I understand somewhat t he kids problem, we do not have any small childrens in the family, but other dogs? Hats, ect?? she is now 5 years old, my husband takes her out in the morning and I take her out for long
    walks in the afternoon ( one hour or more) now that is winter there are lots of people with skies and hats and poles; she has scared a lot of people and I have been told that she should be on a leash. SHe has never bitten anyone or even an attempt to bite. To me she is scared but what do I do??

    Thanks for any advice that you may have..


    Gwendolyn Villavaso Reply:

    I have a 3 year old dachshund mix terrier. She barks at every thing. The birds , other dogs. She is not aggressive. She is friendly and parks a lot. She is hyper. I walk her every day about an hour. I praise her and give her treats when she obey me. She is okay at home , but when she get out in the street, she won’t even look at the treats. When ever I leave the house , she is right on my heels. I have to close her in one room in order to leave the house, and than she cries, what can I do. Thank you Gwendolyn Villavaso


    Minette Reply:

    Read this


    Minette Reply:

    It only takes a fraction of a second for a dog to decide to bite. So although she has not yet bitten, she is clearly showing her disapproval and discomfort by barking and getting agitated which is telling you she wants to bite.

    I would never let a fearful or dog showing aggression (no matter the cause) off leash. The risks are simply not worth it.


  4. Paula Solomon says:

    Adopted a Pit Bull from rescue service. She is 2 yrs old and has had 2 litters of pups and from what I have been told and seen she has also been used as bait dog for training.

    She is great around people and wants to be everyone’s friend. But, she is scared of every thing and goes into belly up mode with any unknown noises, fast movement, loud voice, and getting into and riding in cars. She is also afraid of two of the sets of stairs at my mobile. I have 3 sets of stairs: one with 2 steps and two with 3 steps. Pearl has no problem with the 2 steps, but refuses to go near the 3 step stairs. She locks her legs and refuses to move and she refuses to even venture out on the back porch.

    This lesson has put faith back in my training plan. Thank you for your wise words.


  5. Joy Blackmon says:

    My dog came to my house 3 yrs. ago, vet said he was 1 yr. old, he had been neutered & I loved him at first sight. He was never afraid of me but he still hides under my bed if anyone comes. Most of my family has never seen him. It’s a problem when anyone comes for a week. I wait for them to go to bed then after awhile he will come out. To go out to potty in the yard I have to entice him with food. He’s afraid to go out in the yard without me too. How can I help him with these problems?


    Minette Reply:

    Sign up for our fixing fear program. Dana can help you


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *