Why Does My Dog Show Fear?

Unfortunately dogs can show signs of fear, just like some humans.  There can be many causes for fear in dogs including lack of socialization, genetics, mistreatment and even bad experiences as a young dog.

Quite often fear is re-enforced by the dogs owner.  Yes, we have all been guilty of trying to comfort our dog with a soothing voice when it appears to show fear.  However that is probably the worst thing you can do because it says to the dog, that its fear is logical.

With most puppies and young dogs that show fear it can be remedied or at least helped with a bunch of socializationYes, take that dog everywhere.  Give it a chance to meet a ton of people in a ton of different locations.  I am not talking about doing this on the dog’s turf it needs to be in new surroundings so that the dog can experience a bunch of new sites, sounds and smells.  This isn’t a once a month exercise this should be done 3 – 4 times a week for the dogs mental health.

Of course if you have an older dog that is experiencing fear then we need to work on that fear using some different methods based on the type of fear as well as the socialization.

When fear seems to be a big issue I always suggest that the dog get a thorough physical examination to make sure that the dog has no medical issue and is not in pain.

If you know or were able to meet your puppy’s parents what were they like.  Did they suffer from fear or perhaps aggression?  Fear can be genetic and pass from litter to litter.  It is always a good idea to meet the male and female parents if possible to see their personality before you purchase a puppy.  When the parents are on the property but the breeder gives an excuse as to why you can not meet them BEWARE.

Another possible reason for fear in your dog is an experience your dog may have had when it was a puppy.  Has it been attacked by another dog?  Was the dog mistreated by a child?  Perhaps it had some other scary experience that has now caused the lingering fear.

One last comment and warning is to never pick the puppy or dog that appears to be fearful when you go for the first visit.  This is probably a dog that has already experienced some type of physical or mental trauma and very well may exhibit fear its entire life.

Mark Mansfield

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