It is not uncommon for dogs to be fearful or afraid however, not addressing your dog’s issue could lead to several problems like your dog could show aggressive responses and can even attack. A lot of time dog owners fail to understand what their dogs are feeling which can lead to unwanted results. As a dog owner it is your duty to care for your furry friend and make it feel safe. Here are a few tips and tricks to help make your fearful dog feel safe.
- The most important point here is to recognize that your dog is fearful. A lot of time people do not realize that their dogs are scared and misunderstand them to be just shy. Keep a close eye on how your dog is behaving. If your dog is scared it could show signs like hiding, being uninterested in socializing, growling etc. Look out for these points as the first step to help a fearful dog is to recognize that it is scared.
- Once you realize that your dog is scared and feared the next step is to understand the underlying issue that is making your dog afraid. Your dog could be afraid of certain people or even certain things around the house. It could also be so that your dog needs its own space and does not want to be petted. Your dog could also be afraid of other dogs belonging to your neighbors or someone else. Try to figure out whatever is bothering your dog and fix it so that your dog does not remain scared. This could be a lengthy and time consuming process in order to make your dog learn not to be afraid. You might also need the help of a veterinarian of a dog expert in this.
- Never use punishment to make your dog learn to not be afraid. Already, a lot of people are actively following reward based methods to train their dogs and more and more people are drifting away from using positive punishments and aversive techniques. You may not use punishment already however, you must specifically remember to never use any aversive techniques if you have a scared and fearful dog. This because your dog is already stressed by whatever it is afraid of and punishing it will only make the fear worse. At times it may also lead your dog to be scared of you. If you want to change any behavior of your dog such as if your dog is afraid of bathing, use reward based methods such as classical conditioning.
- As a dog owner you need to understand that it is okay for you to comfort your when it is scared if it wants to be comforted. Some dogs do not like that and prefer hiding instead; you need to understand that it is okay as well. In contrast to this, some dog trainers say that comforting scared dogs reinforces fear and hence, are against of it. However, recent studies show that it is just a myth and comforting a scared dog can actually be helpful in a stressful situation. If your dog is scared gently pet them and talk to them in happy voices reassuring them that everything is okay. Always remember to do so only if your dog wants it.
- Another common misconception of many dog owners is that they think making their dogs to face their fears is the best way to make them learn not to be afraid. However, according to dog experts and recent studies, this is a completely bad advice. People think making dogs face their fears will make them get used to it. Unfortunately, doing so makes dogs sensitize to it and they get even more afraid. In other cases, some dogs turn more aggressive in order to make the fearful thing go away while some others panic and “shut down” where they become completely immobile due to fear.
- Seek help from professionals in order to deal with a fearful and scared dog. Dog experts say that professionals can help scared dogs feel safe faster and more efficiently than the owners themselves. They also say that owners must seek help as soon as the see any signs of fear in their dogs because the sooner they start, the better the results will be. You can also consult a veterinarian who can prescribe your dog with medication for anxiety issues and can also refer you to veterinarian behaviorist based on the issues your dog is facing.
- When you get a dog, you become its caretaker for its entire lifetime. If your dog has issues of being scared and feared, you must be ready to be with your furry friend for the long haul. Fear and anxiety are some of issues which do not go away easily and requires quite a long time to resolve. In some cases, these issues may even never fully resolve. It is your duty to be beside your dog all this time and remember that fearful and scared dogs can have a happy and healthy life just like others.