22 Mar How to handle a fearful dog
Dogs are not all that different from human beings – some of them are well-adjusted and happy while others are moody, shy and even afraid. And just as with human behavior, it’s the latter kind of canines who take to aggression and violence because they’re troubled and in turmoil inside. They don’t know how to deal with their shyness and fear of human beings, other animals, and even inanimate objects that they resort to displays of aggression and attack when they feel threatened.
Some dogs are like this because they haven’t been given the right exposure as puppies – their masters would not have allowed them to play with other dogs and interact with human beings, or they would have been reared in environments that boosted their shyness and fear. Some dogs become this way because they’ve been abused by their masters or by strangers. And some are timid and fearful because they’ve been teased and bullied endlessly by children who don’t know better and adults who did not care to reprimand and correct this behavior.
Here are a few tips for dealing with fearful dogs:
- If you’ve just brought home a new puppy, the best way to prevent them from growing up to be fearful dogs is to expose them to the sights and sounds of the world early on. Take them for walks to places where there are people and animals, where there are loud sounds and quiet surroundings, and where things are busy and quiet. This way, they are used to any kind of environment, whether they move from the city to the suburb, or vice versa.
- Teach your pup obedience skills and focus on their training during their formative years. This way, you don’t have a problem with them when they become adult dogs.
- If you’ve inherited or adopted an older dog that is shy and fearful, you need to work gradually on getting them to lose their inhibitions. To help them adapt to other people, use someone who loves dogs and whom you trust. Get them to stand near your dog without looking directly at them, with a treat in their hand. Repeat this until the dog is comfortable enough to allow the person to pet them. The change will be gradual – the dog will first take the treat from the floor and move away, the next time it may take it directly from the person’s hand, and in a few days, it may allow them to pet it.
- Repeat this exercise in different surroundings, with helpers of different genders and ages.
- If your dog is shy and fearful around other dogs, let them interact with friendly dogs and puppies first. Keep them away from dogs that are aggressive and which could attack.
- Send your dog to an obedience training school – when they learn new skills and how to respond to commands, they lose their shyness and fear naturally.
- Don’t comfort or praise your dog when it exhibits signs of fearfulness; this will only reinforce this kind of behavior and make them believe that it is right and accepted.
Remember, it takes an enormous amount of effort and patience to get rid of your dog’s timidity and fearfulness. So be prepared to spend the required time, and focus on what needs to be done slowly and steadily.
Christy Marocchi -Veterinary Technician/Manager