My dog ​​is afraid of other dogs: why? What to do ?

This pattern is repeated systematically: your dog, who is very happy to go for a walk with you, becomes paralyzed as soon as he meets one of his inbreds on the street or in the park. Does he tremble, refuse to move forward or take refuge between your legs? He is probably afraid of other dogs. What could be the reasons for this behavior? What can you do to help your little buddy? The answer in this file.

How is fear expressed in dogs?

Unfortunately, since the dog is unable to express its fear verbally, it is common to observe external and physical signs of anxiety in a frightened animal. You need to know how to recognize them in order to adapt your response to the situation:

  • Excessive tremors
  • Moans
  • Barking
  • Forced and numerous yawns
  • Excessive lip licking

Some specific behavioradopted in the presence of other dogs, may also indicate your companion’s fear or stress:

  • He pulls on his leash or becomes aggressive: the frightened dog cannot run away, and seeks to protect itself in its own way from what it considers to be a danger
  • He tries to walk away as soon as he sees another dog
  • He is hiding behind you, clinging to your legs: he counts on you to defend him
  • It hides under furniture if you are indoors
  • He refuses to listen to you or play when other dogs are around

It is not always easy to identify fear, which can be mistaken for playfulness or aggressive behavior. Also pay close attention to your dog’s attitude than his body language.

Why is my dog ​​afraid of other dogs?

It is important to understand the reasons for your dog’s fear: this will be a first step towards solving the problem. The anxiety developed in the presence of congeners, and the attempt to escape that follows often revolves around two options.

The first lies in lack of socialization. The puppy was weaned too early, which caused a defect in his experience of social life with his mother and siblings. Indeed, the weeks after birth are crucial for learning behavioral rules, hierarchy and interactions between animals. Separated prematurely from his family, he doesn’t know how to behave around other dogs, which represents part of the unknown that still terrifies him in adulthood.

The other focuses on a trauma, which may be unique, or the result of unpleasant and repeated experiences. Your dog may have been startled one day in front of a particularly brutal dog, and since that day he associates all other canines with a fear factor. He may also have actually been attacked, adding to his fear.

Moreover, these traumatic events can be caused human behaviour : a dog that has been mistreated by its master will be very fearful of others, including its fellow dogs.

Finally, know that fear can also result your dog’s character. Some individuals are more fearful than others: this may be related to their race, or their place in the litter’s hierarchy.

What can I do to help my dog ​​overcome his fear?

Behavioral problems in dogsalthough they are difficult to correct, they are nevertheless not irreversible. Success will depend a lot on your commitment, as well as your pet’s cooperation. Remember that the younger the disorder is acquired, the longer it will take to treat and that it will be difficult to make it completely disappear. On the other hand, you can mute it as much as possible to allow your four-legged friend to do so regain trust and feel more comfortable around other dogs.

Mistakes to avoid

It can be tempting, when you see your pet’s fear, to drown it in petting or to take it in your arms to calm it down. However, this behavior has the opposite effect and strengthens the dog’s conviction: he tells himself that he is right to be afraid and believes that you confirm his position.

On the other hand, it is important not to rush your companion and confront him unnecessarily, or force to interact with other dogs. If you do that, it will only increase the stress of your animal, which will then seek, if possible, escape from the situation, ranging from running away to aggressiveness or even biting. This will ultimately negatively affect the quality of your relationship with your dog.

The method of desensitization

The first step is to focus on your own behavior. Dogs are true emotional sponges and feel their master’s turmoil and stress. If you adopt a calm and confident attitudeyour animal will then be able to perceive your calmness as a sign of the absence of danger, and thus feel more secure.

Desensitization so marks the heart in the treatment of fear. This absolutely must be done gradually, and respects your animal’s psychological limits. You can then try to confront your dog with a fellow dog: first let them observe each other from a distance. So you can reduce the distance which separates them as they walk, which will allow them to approach each other if they wish. Although you must be present and extremely alert to react quickly if something goes wrong, all action must start with your dog. Do not hesitate to program several small meetings, for example with another gentleman who has a dog with a calm and very sociable temperament. You can also proceed in the same way in the park: start by approaching your dog from others at a safe distance, where he can observe without feeling in danger. Then go and watch your dog for the first signs of nervousness. If one of them appears, stop there and start again the next time each time you try to move forward a few extra centimeters.

The right things to do

Another step is to associates a positive feeling with an unpleasant situation or terrifying. If you see your dog stiffen when a fellow dog approaches, speak softly to him, play with him, offer him a treat. It’s not a matter of over-protecting it, as explained earlier, but of practicing counter conditioning, to help your companion relax in the presence of his innate. We also advise you to use this method during advances or confrontations with other dogs: it is a matter of whether create a mental connection between a positive, pleasant experience and the presence of a dog. Little by little, your dog should find himself more comfortable with his peers. Always observe his reactions closely, and do not skip the steps ! A premature approach could very well reduce your efforts to nothing and force you to start over. Also, don’t hesitate to tell your guests not to bring their dog to your house if yours isn’t ready.

The habituation method also consists of multiplying outings so that your dog can get used to the situation. Regarding this last point, it is always important to proceed with great patience and special attention not to rush your animal.

Patience as a compass

In any case, you must always let the dog go his own way. learning pace : Patience remains the key word, as well as kindness and understanding. Indeed, it is necessary to keep in mind that each individual is different. Some dogs will manage to overcome their fear, but others will never be completely calmed down. The fear remains an irrational feelingand deeply rooted, which is difficult to fight against. Furthermore, a dog that does not play with others is not fundamentally unhappy. Depending on his character, he may simply prefer the company of people, and especially his master. In all cases, it is a matter of ensuring well-being, as well your animal’s development, respecting his wishes and desires. Finally, it is entirely possible, and even recommended in the most complicated cases, to have accompanied by a professional . A behaviorist or trainer specializing in positive reinforcement can thus be of great help in working with your dog’s fears.

An essential process in the puppy

ONE good socialization of the young dogis still essential to avoid any development of a behavioral disorder. Outside weaning it must be late (at least 8 weeks after birth), it is very important to immediately teach good habits to the puppy that comes into your life and home. So don’t hesitate to meet other dogs: However, make sure they have a calm, sociable and balanced temperament to avoid any trauma. As for an adult, stay calm and composed while remaining aware of the reactions of your little companion as well as the other dog’s. Act the same way if you choose to take your puppy to the park, favoring in the first place carefully controlled interactions.

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