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How To Help A Scared Dog
It is difficult to deal with a fearful dog, they tend to be very nervous around strange people, places and sounds. Dogs are fearful or fearful because they were not properly socialized from puppyhood. A dog only has a very small window for socialization. Ideally socialization should begin when puppies are 25 days old. Although the eyes and ears are not yet open, they can still feel and smell. It is now that the breeder should encourage people to come and hold the puppies, touch them, examine the feet, ears and private parts. Being handled by strangers and the strange smells will help the puppies to like being handled by strangers and they won’t be as scared or fearful. You’ll want to do this often because by 12 weeks of age this first critical socialization stage will be over and the next phase will begin. If puppies are not socialized at all during their 25-day-old and 60-day-old age, they will begin to show shyness and fear of strangers, especially men and small children.
When they reach the age of 6 months they may show signs of timidity or aggression towards strangers. Loud noises like thunder can make them startle to hide under a bed and if they feel threatened they may even bite someone or another dog. If you are reading this and have a 3 or 4 month old puppy who has not seen anyone outside of your immediate family circle, you need to act now, get help from someone who understands dogs and deal with it now, before things get really bad.
Between the ages of 6-16 months is when problems will really take root in your dog’s personality. In a perfect world these puppies would have been socialized from day 25 straight and handling, feeding and training by new people would be a regular activity and you would never stop socializing your dog to new things. Exposure is key, if you live in a place where there are no trains but like to walk in a park where a train often passes by, then it is best to socialize your puppy at a young age to like the sound of the train. If you don’t, and you decide to take your 6-month-old canine to the park to play, don’t be surprised if he locks and shuts the moment he hears the train noise.
There is a lot that can be done to help an adult dog deal with fear. You can train the dog in obedience and it can be very well behaved. But unfortunately, because socialization is set between the ages of 25 days and 5 months, the dog will never be as confident as it could be. This does not mean that the dog cannot be helped, you just need to make sure that you are always training your dog to build confidence. Every training activity should be fun and exciting for your dog. So much fun in fact that they don’t even realize they’re being trained. Keep introducing your furry friend to new things, just make sure to take it very slowly, in tiny steps.
Be sure to reward your dog every time he tackles new things with confidence. Never reward his fearful behaviors. To make sure you don’t buy or adopt a dog that hasn’t been properly socialized, you need to do your homework first. Check the breeders before you get your puppy. If they have started socialization around 25 days and have been exposed to a wide range of people and noises before they reach 8 weeks of age, then this is the breeder to buy your puppy from. Then you know the puppy is well socialized and you can continue to help your puppy develop socially when you get him home.
If you are going to adopt a dog from the shelter, then take the time to observe the dog. He is shy and nervous, tucks his tail between his legs and tries to hide when people approach him. If the dog does these things, it is best to look for a dog that is more willing to come to you all squished and happy, this is a well socialized dog, at least towards people. You will need to ask the shelter questions about whether they are that well socialized with other dogs or if they have problems with things like skateboards, bikes, etc. Sometimes dogs are afraid of objects and can transfer fear aggression to the owner.
If you have a dog that is fearful and fearful, do something today to help them. Get trained help and start building a bond with your dog that will help him gain confidence. Working out doesn’t have to be a boring chore. In fact, the most successful training is fun and exciting for both you and your dog. The only limits to the amount of fun you can have are your imagination and creativity. It is your responsibility as a good dog owner to do whatever is necessary to make sure your dog is as happy and healthy as possible. Do it for your dog and he will do anything for you.
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