Just like humans, our dogs can develop fears and phobias. These can dramatically reduce their quality of life, and in some cases even lead to aggression. Fear and phobias in a dog should always be addressed as quickly as possible, so your pooch is able to get back on track and live the happy life they deserve. Here are some of the ways you can go about dealing with the issue.
Socialise Them Well as a Pup
Starting when they are young, and focusing on prevention rather than cure is a good idea if this is possible. Socialize your dog when they are a puppy, expose them to lots of different situations and people so they grow up happy and not fearful. Puppies are much more adaptable than older dogs and can overcome issues much more easily.
Of course, if your dog has already started displaying negative behaviors it’s too late for this, but if you have just brought home a puppy this is good advice to follow. Get your dog used to being bathed and groomed, including having their nails trimmed, ears and teeth looked at.
Take them out in the car often, and encourage visitors to come to your home so they are happy and accepting of this. Taking them out on walks at different times of day will expose them to bicycles, cars, prams, children and other animals. If they are used to this as a puppy, they’re less likely to go on and develop fixations and phobias with certain things.
When your dog is displaying negative emotions due to fears and phobias, your first instinct might be to try and comfort them. But acting concerned, being stressed and coddling your dog when they are in this state of mind is not beneficial for them. Instead, try to take your dog’s attention of what they’re focusing on. For example, if they’re scared in thunderstorm then try playing a game of tug of war or giving them a bone to chew. Anything that occupies their mind with something else.
Tire Them Out
A dog’s fears and phobias are always going to be worse when they’re pent up with energy. A dog that is worn out from sufficient exercise is at their happiest and most content, and so if you’re having issues then increasing your dog’s walks could well be enough to improve the situation. The exact amount will depend on the age, breed and health of the dog so find the right balance. When your dog is worn out they will be much less likely to become stressed with situations and will generally be calmer and happier all round.
Get Professional Advice
If all else fails or you just aren’t sure, therapy dog training or other forms of dog training could be useful. A professional will be able to evaluate your dog and give you specially tailored advice and things to try.
Dog phobias can be complicated, and so information from someone who knows what they are doing is invaluable. You could get a trainer to work one on one with your dog, you could take them to a special facility or just join a local dog training group depending on their issues.
With the right training you can help your dog to get back on track, and allow them to be their regular happy selves. As an owner the last thing you want is for them to suffer, and so these points can help them to work through their fears.
Have you ever experience phobias and fears in dogs?