People usually agree that dogs are like small children due to the fact that they are very innocent and cute, and long for their owner’s attention and approval. Just like kids, dogs can suffer from many different fears and phobias. A dog’s fears can lead to actions such as cowering, trembling, barking, drooling and other negative behaviors.
Before dismissing the dog’s actions as ‘bad behavior’, owners should look for reasons why he is acting so terribly. The following list contains ten common dog fears and phobias, along with some tips and tricks on how dogs can easily overcome these issues.
Thunderstorms are dangerous because they can easily lead to hypothermia and flash floods, and if outdoors, there is a risk of being struck by lightning. It is common for dogs to become scared, trembling and upset when it storms. This degree of fear can differ greatly, depending on the dog.
Some dogs may only have a mild fear of thunder and lightning, while others may experience a severe phobia, such as becoming destructive or highly nervous. If your dog seems extremely panicked and overly anxious during a thunderstorm, you should make him feel safe at home, or send him for medical treatment.
In order to decrease the likelihood of fearful behavior, owners should expose dogs to a variety of social situations and environments when they are still young puppies. Exposing dogs to thunderstorms while they are still young can also help alleviate their fears.
While most people love fireworks for their short-lived and astounding beauty, including bright lights and exciting booms, most dogs hate them. Those loud, unpredictable noises and flashing lights can be quite scary, even to the biggest, strongest dog breeds, causing them to tremble and drool.
Owners can slowly get their canine companions accustomed to loud noises, such as the sound of fireworks, by exposing the dog to loud noises in a safe environment. You can use a fireworks recording, playing the video from the lowest volume setting and gradually turning it up to chase away the dog’s phobia.
It is not too surprising that most dogs quickly learn to be afraid of their veterinarians. First, your pet does not like strange surroundings, such as being left on a cold, slippery metal table. He likely remembers the veterinarian taking his blood or giving necessary vaccinations. Toenail trimmings, tail docking and grooming can also cause the dog to dislike veterinary care.
In a sense, every time a dog meets the veterinarian, it may be creating bad memories for your pooch. How can this be overcome? Owners should act normal, avoiding the urge to become distraught or worried when taking the dog to the veterinarian. This is important because the dog can sense an owner’s emotions, and this can make him very upset.
Owners should carry tasty treats and the dog’s favorite toys when visiting the veterinarian. Rather than bringing the dog only for shots and examinations, owners can also stop by for random social visits which will help the dog to feel more comfortable when visiting the clinic.
There are many dogs who know how to swim and love playing in the water, but some are very afraid. This can sometimes be caused by a previous bad experience when the dog was younger and didn’t know what water was.
How do owners get their dogs used to water? It is possible to train your dog to be accepting of water, gradually, using understanding, patience, praise and dog treats as bait. If your dog has a fear of bathing water, you can slowly alleviate his fears by gradually showing him that water isn’t nearly as scary as he thinks.
If the dog is afraid of water in general, the owner should take him somewhere he can play around water. The lake or a beach is a good place to show the dog that he can have fun near the water. This is also an excellent opportunity to show the dog that is is quite okay to get wet and have some fun.
Just as people are leery of strangers, dogs may become frightened or shy when meeting people they do not know. If your dog runs away or displays fearful body language, such as trembling, lip licking, or even hiding behind familiar people or underneath furniture, it is likely that the dog is afraid of strangers.
If the dog becomes aggressive when he is afraid, it is important for owners to keep him under control and warn strangers to stay away. If the owner wants to take his dog for a walk or on another social activity, the dog may need to wear a muzzle. It is important to allow the dog to approach new people in his or her own time.
Never force a dog to confront his fear of strangers. Instead, allow dogs to come forward on their own time and offer reassurance. It is important to keep movements slow and the voice calm, reward the dog because of his newly found confident, relaxed behavior around strangers.
- Riding in the car
It is not too terribly uncommon for dogs to be afraid of riding in cars, just as many people suffer from car sickness. Some dogs dislike car riding due to a previous bad experience, such as going to the veterinary clinic to have shots or an examination.
Other dogs may seem fine when riding in the car until something happens to frighten them, such as an accident. In order to overcome the dog’s fear, owners can drive slowly to avoid making the dog nervous or upset.
Other tips include putting a familiar blanket or dog bed on the seat where the dog will ride. This will help protect the dog from slipping and sliding on the upholstery during the ride. Toss a couple of the dog’s favorite toys in the seat and have a family member ride beside the pet. Until he is comfortable riding in the car, owners should not allow their animals in the front while the car is in motion, near the controls.
There are some dogs that have a fear of going up and down the stairs. This is especially common among younger dogs that lack early exposure to staircases. This fear may have been caused by falling down the stairs. Owners can train their dogs not to be afraid of stairways by making this ascent and descent into a game.
For example, place the dog on the first step and talk to him in a happy comfortable voice, giving him attention and treats. Continue this until he has visited every step, and eventually the dog’s fear may all but disappear.
Children can make animals, especially dogs, very nervous because they speak with a higher pitch and often talk in loud, excited vocal tones. This is quite the opposite from what dogs expect from adult owners. If a dog exhibits a strong fear of children, it is likely because he was not exposed to them as a puppy.
Some dogs possess timid personalities, making them also fear children, while other dogs may have sustained injuries at the hand of an unsupervised toddler. As an owner, do not try to lure the dog closer to children or punish him for being afraid. Instead, reassure the dog by allowing him to keep a comfortable distance until he is ready to face this fear. Consult a dog trainer or behaviorist for help with the phobia if the dog must be around children.
- Other animal
Dogs can develop a fear of animals for a number of reasons. Some dogs are more likely to experience anxiety around other animals due to their genetic makeup, while others may have had a traumatic experience such as being attacked, threatened or frightened by a cat.
These dogs may associate all cats with this one unpleasant event, and become afraid and anxious whenever cats are around. Owners should expose their puppies to a variety of pleasant experiences with new people, places, objects and other animals. This will help dogs mature into well-adjusted adult dogs. If the condition persists and more problems arise, the owner should seek professional help.
10. Being Alone
The fear of being abandoned is referred to as separation anxiety, and this occurs in dogs as well as people. If the dog barks excessively, refuses to be housebroken, or becomes nervous whenever owners are out of sight, the dog likely has a fear of being alone.
This separation anxiety can be caused by many different occurrences, such as being weaned from the mother too early, never being left alone, and owners staying gone for too long on previous trips, such as working overtime.
Owners should try to leave through a back or side door, keeping quiet and walking very quickly. This can help to reduce dependency by spending less time with the dog for a training period of several weeks, eventually helping your dog get used to being left at home.
Never force a dog to do something that he dislikes, as this can actually lead to aggressive behaviors. Ask the dog’s veterinarian for some helpful tips and advice on these matters. Most of these fears and reasons for panic can be overcome by behavior modification training.
With puppies, owners should expose their young dogs to a variety of social situations and environments until he is approximately fourteen weeks of age, helping owners decrease the likelihood of fearful behavior.