Fearful Dogs: How to Understand & Help Them
One of the saddest things is the number of people that misunderstand fearful dogs and in trying to make things better for their dogs they actually make it worse.
Fearful dogs are nearly always lacking strong pack leaders, and their owners are often the kindest and gentlest people!
They want nothing more than to see their dog live the kind of life that all the other dogs are living, happy, fun and free.
What they fail to recognize is that their dog is actually scared because the owner is giving them the message that they are the pack leader.
Their dog like many is not able to handle the pressure, nor should they be expected to.
Let me describe a scenario:
If you are 4 years old and find yourself in a dark wood with your younger sister and there is a strange noise or a person coming towards you then you may very well be afraid.
However if one of your parents were there with you though, then everything would be fine. That is because you would not be in charge! This is how it is for your dog when you make them the pack leader. They are terrified and just want to get home safe and alive.
You are reading an article by Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
All the responsibility is on your dog’s shoulders and they are not able to handle it in this human world. There are far too many strange things for them to make decisions about all the time. Eventually they will snap unless you help them.
Become the Pack Leader to Help Fearful Dogs
To help your dog you must first become the pack leader. I suggest that the best way to do this is through watching video rather than reading about it.
Here are a few things that you should remember when working with a fearful dog.
They can change but will struggle if you try to push it too fast.
You must become the pack leader…
There is a great videos site that show you exactly how to become the pack leader, don’t just read about it.
Ask your friends to ignore your dog when they first meet her. People should not approach your dog but wait until she is calm and then call her over. If she doesn’t come over then she is too scared and you must leave her alone.
A good video based web site will show you exactly how to put all of this into place through the use of video so you can sit back, watch and learn.
Establishing yourself as the pack leader is the foundation to any success with fearful dogs. Until you recognize this you and put it in place you will never be in a position to help your dog.
One of the best sites around is The Online Dog Trainer. It has fantastic videos on establishing yourself as the pack leader and also shows you how to give confidence to fearful dogs. Click here to visit it…
Are you in need of superb and effective dog training?
It seems like an activity all canines would enjoy.
In reality, many fear riding in cars to the point they will resist getting into one.
This can create a number of problems for owners.
For example, suppose you need to take your pet to his veterinarian.
Or, suppose you want to take him to a new park, or to visit a friend.
If he refuses to climb into your vehicle, these and other activities will be difficult.
Fortunately, there are ways to help your canine become comfortable with riding in cars.
As with shaping most behavioral problems, doing so takes time.
Below, we’ll explain how the phobia develops in the first place, and offer several suggestions to help your pet overcome it.
Possible Reasons Dogs Fear Car Rides
A common reason dogs fear riding in automobiles is because they have become sick while doing so in the past.
Dogs learn to associate their experiences with certain stimuli. If your pet suffered from nausea and vomiting, he may have associated riding in a car with that experience.
Another reason involves the lack of familiarity your canine may have with riding in vehicles. Even if you brought him home from the breeder’s facility in your car, he may not remember the experience. Or, someone may have been holding him, insulating him from the vibrations and the quickly-changing scene outside the windows. If he is introduced to the scent, the vibrations, and the sights for the first time, it can be startling.
Many dogs fear car rides because they are always taken to the veterinarian or groomer during trips. They associate the ride with the destination. If your canine dislikes going to the vet, and that is the only place you take him in the car, he may learn to loathe climbing inside.
Some canines have been abandoned by their owners, who drove them to the shelter or pound. Here, the animals learn to associate car rides with abandonment. If you care for a dog that was adopted from a shelter, and observe him refusing to get into your vehicle, this could be the reason. He may fear being abandoned again.
How To Help Your Pet Overcome His Anxiety
First, avoid forcing your dog to get into your car. Doing so will only strengthen his aversion, and make it more difficult for him to overcome his phobia. Instead, use treats to encourage him to walk toward your vehicle. Realize he may be unwilling to climb inside during his first few encounters. Be patient, and praise him each time he makes progress.
Second, when trying to entice your canine to get into your car, open as many doors as possible, including the rear hatch. This lets him know he won’t be confined once he steps inside. Again, give him treats and praise for encouragement, and to help him associated the cab of your vehicle with a good experience.
Third, once your dog has finally summoned the courage to climb inside your vehicle, climb in next to him. Leave the doors open, and begin petting and praising him. When he seems comfortable, close one of the doors. After a few minutes, close another. Then another. Eventually, you want to reach the point where he can remain calm with all the doors closed.
Fourth, turn your vehicle on. Let the engine idle so your canine will become used to the vibrations. Provide a few treats to help him remain calm. When he seems ready, start driving.
During the first few weeks, keep the trips short, and take your dog to places he’ll enjoy (e.g. park, beach, etc.). This teaches him that car rides are nothing to fear, and often lead to fun experiences. With time, your once-fearful dog will look forward to them. Visit BestBullySticks.com for the best raw dog food and treats.
Fearful dogs Often Equals Bad Socialized Dogs…
So, the logical solution is:
Teaching Your Puppy Proper Socialization Skills!
Teaching a puppy or a dog proper socialization skills is vital to the safety of both your dog and other dogs and people with whom he comes into contact.
A properly socialized dog is a happy dog, and a joy to be around for both humans and animals. A poorly socialized dog, or one with no socialization at all, is a danger to other animals, other people and even his own family.
Socialization is best done when the puppy is as young as possible. The socialization lessons a young puppy learns are difficult to undo, and it is important to remember that the socialization skills the puppy learns will affect his behavior for the rest of his life.
A dog that is properly socialized will be neither frightened of nor aggressive towards either animals or humans. A properly socialized dog will take each new experience and stimulus in stride, and not become fearful or aggressive.
Dogs that are not properly socialized often bite because of fear, and such a dog can become a hazard and a liability to the family who owns it. Improperly socialized dogs are also unable to adapt to new situations.
A routine matter like a trip to the vets or to a friends house can quickly stress the dog out and lead to all sorts of problems.
Socialization is best done when the puppy is very young, perhaps around 12 weeks of age. Even after 12 weeks, however, it is important that the puppy continues its socialization in order to refine the all important social skills.
It is possible to socialize an older puppy, but it is very difficult to achieve after the all important 12 week period has passed.
There are so definite do’s and don’t when it comes to properly socializing any puppy. Let’s start with what to do. Later in this article we will explore what to avoid.
• Make each of the socialization events as pleasant and non-threatening for the puppy as possible. If a puppy’s first experience with any new experience is an unpleasant one, it will be very difficult to undo that in the puppy’s mind.
In some cases, an early trauma can morph into a phobia that can last for a lifetime. It is better to take things slow and avoid having the puppy become frightened or injured.
• Try inviting your friends over to meet the new puppy. It is important to included as many different people as possible in the puppy’s circle of acquaintances, including men, women, children, adults, as well as people of many diverse ethnic backgrounds and ages.
• Also invite friendly and healthy dogs and puppies over to meet your puppy. It is important for the puppy to meet a wide variety of other animals, including cats, hamsters, rabbits and other animals he is likely to meet. It is of course important to make sure that all animals the puppy comes into contact with have received all necessary vaccinations.
• Take the puppy to many different places, including shopping centers, pet stores, parks, school playgrounds and on walks around the neighborhood. Try to expose the puppy to places where they will be crowds of people and lots of diverse activity going on.
• Take the puppy for frequent short rides in the car. During these rides, be sure to stop the car once in a while and let the puppy look out the window at the world outside.
• Introduce your puppy to a variety of items that may be unfamiliar. The puppy should be exposed to common items like bags, boxes, vacuum cleaners, umbrellas, hats, etc. that may be frightening to him. Allow and encourage the puppy to explore these items and see that he has nothing to fear from them.
• Get the puppy used to a variety of objects by rearranging familiar ones. Simply placing a chair upside down, or placing a table on its side, creates an object that your puppy will perceive as totally new.
• Get the puppy used to common procedures like being brushed, bathed, having the nails clipped, teeth cleaned, ears cleaned, etc. Your groomer and your veterinarian with thank you for this.
• Introduce the puppy to common things around the house, such as stairs. Also introduce the puppy to the collar and leash, so he will be comfortable with these items.
There are of course some things to avoid when socializing a puppy. These socialization don’ts include:
• Do not place the puppy on the ground when strange animals are present. An attack, or even a surprise inspection, by an unknown animal could traumatize the puppy and hurt his socialization.
• Do not inadvertently reward fear based behavior. When the puppy shows fear, it is normal to try to sooth it, but this could reinforce the fear based behavior and make it worse. Since biting is often a fear based behavior, reinforcing fear can create problems with biting.
Fearful Dogs Are The Results of Little or No Socialization
Here’s another article that will explain to you why socialization is crucial in avoiding and how to put it into practice to ensure your dog has few, if any behavioural problems later in life and is able to interact well with dogs and other species.
The importance of socializing a puppy can never be over-emphasised, but what exactly does it mean? And how does one go about it?
Socialization is the process whereby a puppy learns to recognise and interact with other individuals of its own species, with people of different ages, races and genders, and with other animals that she is likely to come into contact with, such as cats and horses.
The dog will learn the skills necessary to communicate with and interpret the other animals’ intentions, thus avoiding unnecessary hostilities. The dog will also learn to cope with stress and will suffer less as an adult in stressful situations.
When talking of socialization, we often include habituation, that is, getting a puppy used to different places, sights and sounds so that she becomes confident in new situations and gets used to as many different stimuli as possible.
There are certain periods in a puppy’s development that are more important than others. The most sensitive socialization period begins at around 3 weeks of age and begins to reduce by 12 weeks. Peak sensitivity is between 6 and 8 weeks of age.
It is important to remember that many young dogs need continual social interaction to maintain their socialization and failure to do so will mean that they regress or become fearful again.
The 6-8 month period is another sensitive time for socialization and owners and trainers can use this window to further habituate and socialize their puppy to different surroundings, people and animals.
So, now we know why and when socialization should be carried out, we must look at how to undertake this. It is recommended that your puppy be introduced to new stimuli and other people and pets in a systematic and controlled way.
Remember that these formative experiences will shape the behaviour of your pet for the rest of her life, so the idea is that they should be pleasurable and fun.
They may well also be challenging, but if done in the right way, the puppy will learn that there is no threat and that she is safe to explore and meet new friends and situations without being fearful. This ensures the best chance of her developing a sound temperament and capacity to cope in all circumstances.
Early socialization is, of course, in the hands of the breeder and if they are conscientious and responsible they will ensure that the puppies are handled frequently, as well being exposed to normal household stimuli such as the television, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, doorbell etc.
Puppies who are raised in a quiet kennel or room will have trouble adapting to a normal family environment.
So once the puppy is at home with you, it is your job to continue carefully introducing her to different people, animals and stimuli. It is however important to introduce the puppy to new people, places, objects and situations only when you can completely control the experience.
Fearful Dogs and Experiences
A frightening experience will be detrimental – avoid unfriendly dogs and adults and children who do not understand how to be kind and gentle with animals. Invite friends to your house soon after you bring your puppy home to teach her that guests are friendly and welcome in her new home.
Give your friends treats to give to the puppy so she is rewarded.
Fearful Dogs and Other Dogs
Introduce her to one or two other friendly, healthy, fully-vaccinated dogs – she can join in with bigger groups once she has all her shots and has learned some dog social skills and has over-come any fear. Always be ready to intervene if your puppy is scared, threatened or being bullied by another dog.
Fearful Dogs and Lifestyle/Environment
When socializing your puppy, you must evaluate your lifestyle and environment and assess what situations are lacking. For instance, if you live in the country, take your puppy to town and gradually and carefully let her become accustomed to crowds of people, noise and traffic.
If, however, you live in a town and these things are no problem, take your puppy to the countryside so she can see and smell farm animals and become accustomed to them too. Make sure your dog meets some cats who are dog-friendly.
Fearful Dogs and Children
Don’t let her chase them as this will start a life-long habit that will be difficult to change. If your household has no children, introduce your puppy to some children who can regularly play gently with her. Always supervise them to ensure the children are gentle and that your dog is responding well and not becoming nervous or aggressive.
Fearful Dogs and Health
Remember always to protect your puppy’s health, before she is fully vaccinated. Don’t put her down on the ground where there may be dog urine or faeces, and don’t let her interact with other dogs that may carry disease.
You can still socialize your puppy by carrying her into different situations and taking her in the car, allowing her to see many different things in a safe environment and she will get used to trips in the car at the same time.
Use treats and praise to reinforce good behaviour. Do not comfort your puppy if she is fearful as this can be interpreted as praise for the wrong behaviour. Simply change the situation (i.e. ask an approaching person to step back or pick up your puppy to get her out of a difficult situation) until she feels safe and secure once more.
All interaction with your puppy at this age involves consistently rewarding desirable behaviour which will increase the likelihood the dog will repeat this behaviour. It will also help to prevent the development of undesirable behaviour.
Another helpful step would be to enroll in puppy socialization and training class. This provides a great opportunity for puppies to socialize with other dogs, for puppies to learn obedience training in a playful environment with plenty of distractions and also for owners to learn training and communication techniques.