why is my dog so scared of everything
Is your dog afraid of everything? As I mentioned in my last blog, my new dog Easy is afraid of many things. In fact, it might be simpler to list the things she's NOT afraid of. She's not scared of familiar people or dogs, as long as they don't DO anything frightening. Like move suddenly, growl, drop something, dance, etc. Riding in the car is fine, until she sees something unfamiliar out the window. Then she requires a straight jacket. Desensitization is obviously called for, but desensitization to everything?! And how to expose her to new experiences when we live in on an isolated farm, and she can't be driven to the nearest town without adrenaline bursts when she sees things through the window? Fear is indisputably one of the most problematic issues that dog trainers and behaviorists encounter. Fear runs deep, and it's the main reason why many vets and most trainers now encourage owners to get their puppies out and about at an early age. As Dr. Ian Dunbar repeats at every opportunity, "Socialization, socialization, socialization. " The risk that puppies may contract a contagious disease before a full series of vaccinations can be given is still a concern, but that pales in comparison to the behavioral problems caused by isolating puppies until their vaccinations are complete. If puppies can be taken out in public and have good experiences during their first four months of life, so many of the issues I'm now encountering with Easy can be avoided. It is very disheartening to try to train a dog afraid of everything. It's like unwrapping an onion; you try to address one thing the dog is afraid of, and you find another underneath. You plan a strategy for dealing with one problem, and then find it won't work until you backtrack and treat another issue.
At this point, it's best to put your long-term vision for your dog on a shelf. Someday, a Canine Good Citizen certificate, but, for now, let's toss the dog a biscuit every time we bend our legs. It is important, when dealing with behavioral issues that are likely to resolve slowly, to keep track of the progress you are making. You can do this by recording video footage of your dog, keeping a training diary, or through feedback from friends and acquaintances who see your dog irregularly. You may be discouraged that your dog's not perfect yet, but others may be able to sincerely tell you that they see an improvement. After our last trip to town, I was pretty discouraged. Easy saw another dog as we were driving in, so she was already very wound up before I let her out of the car. We managed to calm down and had a good session outside the recycling center, where traffic was low and everyone was following a predictable path, allowing us to stay well out of the way. But then we went on to the farmer's market, which was a little too busy and populated by friendly people who wanted to approach and pat my dog. It's good that I'm forty-something instead of twenty; as a young woman I might not have been assertive enough to fend off these well-meaning strangers, whereas now I think nothing of holding up my hand and shouting at them, as politely as I can manage, to stay away. Still, I'm probably alarming my dog by tensing up and shouting, so I've requested a "Dog In Training" vest for Christmas. I hope this will help, although I wonder if people won't just come closer to read the darn vest!
I won't be returning to the farmer's market with Easy anytime soon, but I do have to keep exposing Easy to new environments if I want her to ever be able to travel off the farm with me. In order to keep her under threshold while I'm driving, I've decided to try using a. This training aid acts as a visual filter, blocking out visual stimuli which would otherwise excite or upset the dog. The hitch is, the cap can easily be pawed off by the dog, so before we try to use it in the car, Easy has to be desensitized to the Calming Cap. One step forward, one step back. Another thing that can be helpful for counter conditioning while in the car is the
remote treat dispensing machine. If your dog sees something concerning out the window you can pair that with a treat so he or she starts to feel a little better about that thing. Or you can simply reward calm behavior with it. What to do when your dog's afraid of everything? Pick something to desensitize or counter condition her to and get to work. The younger your dog is, the faster progress you can expect to make, so starting today is better than putting it off until it fits into your schedule. Also for more help, a great Yahoo group to check out for help is. Pet Expertise also has many tools to help which can be well worth a try. Shane Windatt, CTC, CPDT A puppy that s not encouraged to build self-confidence can become an overly shy dog. It s during a puppy s socialization period that his confidence is instilled. Some breeds tend to be more timid than others, however, shyness can become a serious behavior problem with any dog that s not properly socialized. Shy dogs tend to be afraid of everything from people and strange objects to loud noises.
You can t force a dog to be brave; you can only encourage him through praise and leadership. Below is a list of common problems a shy dog may have and their solutions. It s not always clear why a shy dog is afraid of some people and not others. Use the following technique to help your dog overcome his fear of people. Your dog will find it more comfortable to approach a person in his own environment, so plan to have a friend or family member come to your house. Let this person know your intentions before you get together and have them completely ignore your dog when they arrive. Be sure they know not to make eye contact with him. Keep the conversation with your guest upbeat to show your dog everything is okay. Let him come out when he s ready. If necessary, use treats to lure your dog out of hiding Your dog may be curious, yet too shy to approach. If this is the case, toss a treat towards him to distract him from his nervousness. Then ignore your dog and allow him to get the treat when he s ready. Once he takes the treat, drop another one closer to you and your guest. Repeat this until your dog is comfortable next to the person. The person can reach under and stroke your dog s chest when he s close enough, but don t reach over the dog s head. It may only frighten a shy dog more. If your dog is uncomfortable and hesitates to come near your guest, don t force the situation. Ask the person to come by another time to try again. Practice this method with different people as often as possible until your dog becomes comfortable with them. Dogs can be afraid of the strangest things like an empty box or a full garbage bag that s ready to go to the curb.
To see your dog afraid of ordinary items always brings a good laugh and that s exactly what you need to do to solve the problem. Investigate the scary object for your dog while you re laughing. Squat down next to it and in an excited voice say what is this?. Call your dog to help you. Stay enthusiastic and have as much fun as possible. Once your shy dog sniffs around he ll walk tall and feel proud that he solved the mystery. Everything from thunder to a passing truck can scare a timid dog. Because loud noises can occur at any moment, they can be a serious problem. A good approach to help your dog get over his fear of noises is to play noise games. There are countless noises you can make to ease your dog s fear. Below are two examples to get you started. Mix up your dog s food in a stainless steel dog bowl with a metal spoon. Make as much noise as you can. Get excited and let him know how good it s going to taste. Then set the bowl down and let him eat out of it. Go into another room where your dog isn t playing and drop a pan. Begin to laugh and call your dog into the room to examine what s going on. If he comes, give him a treat and praise him for being so brave. Once your shy dog gets used to loud noise, you can drop the pan closer to him. You ll know how close you can get by how fast he recovers. If he s scared for more than a few seconds you are too close. All dogs are usually afraid of something, but not all dogs are born brave. If you take the time to help your shy dog understand his fears, you ll have a well-rounded companion that s ready to take on anything.
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