Is it all fear?
First we have to recognize that our dog is afraid and this is not as easy as we imagine. Whenever we think of fear we imagine a dog with almost defenselessness learned, that does not move, that looks at us with panic and that flees. Well, indeed an animal that behaves like that, is afraid. But no less than one who comes to us barking, another who bites, who does not stop for a moment, who is not separated from us … and is that all these behaviors are also associated with fear. I was very surprised a way that dogs have to manage fear and it is egocentric, I never thought that an excessively sociable dog could hide a fear inside. And so, a dog that needs to greet everyone, is afraid of people and has to have it all controlled and happy, or at least that’s what he must think.
The most difficult thing to treat a dog with fear is to know what he fears, because the fears are generalized and it is very difficult to know what the origin of everything. In fact, a single exposure to fear being one hundred percent calm could solve the problem. The tricky thing is to get a fearful dog that tranquility.
What Not to do with frightened dogs
- Correct or punish: A dog and afraid, you need confidence. If we undermine our relationship with him on the basis of punishments or threats, we will NEVER have a sufficient link with him to be his referent.
- To Encourage: Hyperactivity involves stress and a stressed dog is more sensitive to everything around him. If our dog is afraid and does not have a good bond with us, taking him out for a long time will make things worse.
- Leave him alone: Separation anxiety is nothing but panic of being alone. If we have not taught him, our dog is going to have a bad time. We must leave the dog with us until we gradually become accustomed to being alone.
- Close escape routes: Here I include leave the dog tied up , get in the door in closed sites, catch him or catch him. If we preclude the escape of the animal, the only thing that will remain is the attack. There are many aggression that occur because we leave the dog no other way than attack. We have to be aware that a frightened dog considers everything a threat, even its own owner, so we NEVER have to close an escape route.
- Swamping: If your dog is afraid something, you do not ever put him squarely in the situation that frightens him. It would not be the first time I hear one of my clients say that as the dog was afraid of people, he took him to the Gran Via to get used to it. You should NEVER expose the animal to a situation it can not handle, because it is likely to come out even worse than it did.
Proposals to improve a dog with fear
- ROUTINE: The best thing you can have a frightened dog is predictability, which will know when to eat, when going out into the street, when you’ll get there and what are going to do. Routine is fundamental in a treatment.
- Walking adjusted to demand: As discussed above, the ideal is that the rides are short, 20 to 30 minutes three times a day, at times when we do not expose him to many stimuli and areas where we anticipate difficult situations. If our dog can not stand more than 5 minutes in the street, do not force. There will be time to increase it.
- Give them security: If our dog takes us as a reference, we can show that things are not scary, either getting closer to them, interacting with them… always leaving him make decisions whether or not to approach. NEVER force you to anything.
- Progressive mental stimulation: Wow, this sounds so rare is the most important. Everyone knows that your dog needs exercise to be happy and to be calm, what seems to be starting to quit is that alone with that is not enough. Dogs need to think, make decisions and stimulate themselves mentally. This is achieved using search games, home slaloms , problem solving and vertical sniff (search using a wall, trees or banks during the ride). And progressive because we will start making it very easy and then we will always complicate it as the dog learns in order to solution the kind of problems that we put.
- Calm Down: All that we can bring you peace of mind will we always returned tenfold. Without realizing it ourselves we overestimated the dog with behaviors like “Let’s go to the street !!!” or “Who’s coming?”. All these acts should be suppressed when we encounter an insecure dog. Nor should we comfort the dog that is afraid, because we will be confirming that something happens. The best thing is to give it the slightest importance, because if for us nothing has happened, surely for him either. To put a clear example is how when a child falls on the street, turns, looks at the mother and if she worries and runs to the child, he begins to cry thinking … Oh my God I almost killed !. Do you know what happens if the mother says quietly that nothing has happened and that she is getting up? … Well, that is what we want our dog to think.
And as always, remember that empathy with our dog is very important. That as bad as we are happening, he is going to be much worse and our screams and demands only make everything worse.
We do not intend with this post to solve behavior problems, just try to improve the coexistence with fearful dogs. If you think your dog has a problem that you can not solve, get in touch with a good therapist.