Dogs can become fearful of anything. Whether its
a person, object or even a place.
Don’t count on a fast and
easy fix. Being patient
and calm is …key.
The most common fears are:
*Places like the Vet & People
*Sounds and sights like Sirens, and Ambulances
The following are some tips provided from VeterinaryPartner.com
1. Have a veterinarian examine the dog and perform any indicated tests to diagnose problems that could be causing pain, sickness or disability. Work with the veterinarian to treat the problem and ease the dog’s physical pain. Bring the dog back to the veterinarian regularly.
2. Assess the problem:
a. Do you know of an event that started the fear?
b. Is the thing the dog fears actually dangerous and/or likely to cause pain to the dog? How are you going to keep your dog safe?
c. Are people or other animals being placed in danger by the dog’s behavior and if so, how are you going to put a stop to that danger right now?
d. How can you protect the dog from experiencing this fear while you work through the behavior modification steps?
e. Is it necessary for the dog to cope with this situation, or could things reasonably be managed to simply keep the dog away from it from now on?
f. If you determine it’s better to protect your dog from this situation rather than trying to treat the fear, give the dog time to get used to your new plan. Chances are you’ll be surprised to see how much happier your dog becomes.
3. To treat the fear, plan the steps for conditioning your dog gradually to the feared thing. Plan how you are going to start at a DISTANCE from the feared thing, with it functioning at a low INTENSITY for periods of short DURATION. Plan how you will, over time, gradually reduce the distance, increase the intensity, and expose the dog to the feared thing for periods of longer duration. Plan how you will increase one variable at a time.
4. Determine what things this dog finds rewarding. For the greatest chance of success, you’ll want to use as many of them as possible. Incentives include: food treats the dog likes, food treats the dog goes crazy for, regular meals, retrieving, games with you the dog enjoys playing, special toys reserved for special times, “happy-timing” the dog with a jolly attitude (using excited voice and body language to convey to the dog that is a happy thing), privileges such as a walk or ride in the car, and anything else THIS dog likes.
If you can’t come up with anything your dog finds rewarding, developing these motivators is your first training goal! You may need the help of a behavior specialist or trainer. One option is to break the dog’s daily food into more, smaller meals. Some or even all of the food can be fed by hand, depending on what works best for your conditioning program.
5. Discontinue all exposure of the dog to the feared thing. Start your conditioning program at the distance, intensity and duration where your dog happily accepts rewards. Advance very slowly toward your goal of having the dog comfortable with the feared thing so that the dog will be able to function happily around it in the future. Be patient and take as long as needed to avoid pushing the dog too fast. If you trigger the dog’s fear during this process, that’s a big setback, so keep the progress slow enough to avoid that.
6. Reward your dog at times the dog is showing confidence. Avoid rewarding fearfulness.
What are some ways you helped your beagle overcome fear?
Dog Training Expert Ceasar Milan
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