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How to treat fear of other dogs and humans

June 1st, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

Why are some dogs afraid of other dogs or people?

Some possible reasons include:

-lack of socialization during puppyhood (ideally at 2-3 months of age)
-a negative experience, such as being attacked by another dog, that has created fear
-the use of pinch or shock collars, that pairs pain with the stimulus (seeing another dog or a child, then getting shocked while barking)

Can I prevent fears from developing?

The best prevention is socializing your puppy, before it reaches 3 months of age, to as many different noises, sights and environments as possible.
Puppy obedience classes are a great and easy way to accomplish this. Just make sure your puppy is only exposed to healthy, well vaccinated dogs before its vaccination series is complete. Most puppies need vaccines at 2 months, 3 months and 4 months of age. The timing of these boosters is critical to getting proper protection from infectious diseases.

What signs might my dog show when she is afraid?

Signs of fear can include:

-cowering and tucking the tail in
-looking in the other direction
-licking the lips

How do I treat my fearful pet?

Mildly fearful dogs can be treated by owners or trainers.
For extremely fearful dogs, referral to a veterinarian who specializes in behaviour problems is best.

D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Phermone) is a drug-free product that can reduce anxiety in dogs, to enhance leaning. Sometimes medications can help. After all, it’s hard to learn when experiencing feelings of terror.

Steps in training include:

1/ Identify what makes your dog afraid.

2/ Be able to control your dog, with a head collar and training to sit quietly. That makes your dog know you are the leader, allows you to face your dog away from the scary things, and prevents your dog from getting hurt or trying to escape.

3/ Teach your dog it will get a yummy reward if it sits quietly when asked to do so. Do this training in an environment free of things your dog is afraid of, to build that base.

4/ Next, desensitize and counter-condition your dog to what it is afraid of. Do this SLOWLY. Expose your dog to a low level of the stimulus, for example being far away from other dogs. Reward your dog for sitting quietly. Once your dog is calm, slowly increase the intensity of the stimulus and continue to reward quiet and relaxed behaviour.

5/ If your dog shows any fear, it is usually because you progressed too quickly. Go back to the distance your dog felt safer at, and then slowly work back up to a shorter distance. Always allow your dog to succeed.

6/ Ask strangers to ignore your dog and allow it to approach them, not the other way around. They can toss treats towards your pooch or hold out a treat while in a crouched position and let your dog decide if and when it wants to get that treat.

7/ If your dog continues to show fear, consider avoiding the scary things. You might need to crate your dog when children visit, or go for walks at times of day when dogs or humans are not out and about.

8/ If your dog acts fearful, do not pet or soothe it. This will accidentally reward the behaviour you do not want. Instead, face your dog towards you, ask it to sit, and only touch or feed it once it is calm. Never punish your dog for acting fearful, such as barking and lunging, because this will only make things worse.

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