Risk of mishandling a fearful dog

cute puppyDepending on the situation, when faced with something scary a dog has limited choices as to how to respond. Early in the life of a fearful dog many choose to move (i.e., run as fast as they can) away from things that scare them, if this is an option. This is the behavior that the dog is more likely to repeat as it gets older, which is why ‘catching’ a feral dog is such a challenge.

This changes when we put a collar and leash on a scared dog. When we force a dog to move toward something that scares them, believing that this will help the dog learn to feel less afraid of it, we can end up with unwanted results. One of these results is that we are training the dog to move toward something that scares them. So long as we have a leash on them we can control their behavior, but we’re not controlling their emotions. They are feeling fear and likely of a higher intensity than when they had the option to move away. Move a scared dog closer to what scares them and their behavioral response may become exaggerated. A dog that once cowered and slunk away now growls, snarls or even bites.

Until a fearful dog has the skills to be around their triggers, and their feelings of fear do not overwhelm them, moving away from them is a good choice to make. This keeps the dog, and the people and other dogs around them, safe.

For more information on helping your fearful dog visit the Fearful Dogs website and the author’s Examiner.com articles on dog behavior and training

2 comments so far

  1. Susan Davies on

    Thanks for the great articles (blog). I foster fearful dogs for our local Humane Society. 25 in the last two years have moved on to their fur-ever homes because of working with their fears in a very positive way.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks so much for commenting Susan and sharing your success using positive methods with your fearful fosters! It should give hope and inspiration to others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: