Yesterday, we posted the top ten dog fears and phobias. They are a common-enough occurrence, but what to do about them?
In most cases, you can ease your dog’s stress with socialization. This just means you get your dog used to the thing he’s afraid of gradually. For example, if your dog has trouble with men, you can desensitize her slowly. Keep in mind that a scared dog is very likely to bite, so approach the dog with caution.
At first, put the dog in her crate or in a room where you know she feels safe, and have a male friend talk to her from the next room. Ask the man to use a quiet, calm voice and to use the dog’s name frequently. When the dog is able to show no reaction, or at least no fearful reaction, you should praise the dog and give her a treat.
Once the dog can tolerate the man’s voice, bring the man into the room. If possible, the man should be sitting, preferably on the floor, still talking quietly and calmly. You should be positioned near the dog, talking quietly and praising her, again using her name frequently. When she settles, again give her a treat and lots of praise.
Continue this sequence, bringing the man closer and closer to the dog until eventually the dog allows him to touch her. You might try using several different men during this process so the dog learns to generalize her new skills to all men – not just to the one you have used as a trainer. To see this technique in action, watch some of the rescue videos on the Hope for Paws website. Eldad Hagar is a master of the patience required to calm a scared dog.
Some of the phobias will require a little special intervention. As was mentioned in yesterday’s post, if your dog is afraid of open stairs, you can simply block in the open edges. For a fear of the vet, ask if you can schedule a couple of socialization appointments, where you bring the dog into the office just to visit and maybe receive a few treats, with no shots or temperature-taking.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!