When talking about fears, there are differing opinions on considered rational behavior and irrational behavior. That being said, people who have lovely pooches at home need to know what dogs fear and in order to do this, you have to put yourself in the shoes of a little child. There are certain things like loud and large garbage trucks which are scary to dogs and there are some small things which make your dogs run and whimper with their tails between their legs even though to people they are completely normal. To humans these fears seem absurd but to dogs these fears are a matter of life and death.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs can suffer from different phobias and there are numerous reasons for these phobias and some of the most common causes include genetics, lack of early socialization and a negative experience. The fears and phobias of dogs can lead to drooling, barking, trembling, cowering, destructive behavior and in worse cases, aggression. One of the most common dog phobias is fear of balloons. Balloons are signs of festive occasions and they are expected to bring people joy but to dogs, it can be an entirely different story. Balloons have quite a distinctive sound when they are rubbed together. When they are popped, dogs everywhere seem top just go crazy. Balloon popping just seems to traumatize them. Some fears and in general, personality traits, can be hereditary. If one of the parents are shy or timid, there is a big chance that the puppy will also be shy or timid. Dogs, during their first eight weeks of life, learns behaviors from his mother, as well as his siblings. Singleton puppies or puppies without any siblings are likely to have more fear issues, especially fearing other dogs. One of the most common causes of dog phobias stems to their puppyhood. It is necessary to expose puppies to a myriad of stimuli so that they do not suffer from phobias. However, there are also predetermined behaviors for certain breeds. For example, herding dogs such as German Shepherds have been trained for a number of years to be very protective of their surroundings, their owners, and other animals. As a result of such training, they are super sensitive to their surroundings and because of this, they are prone to phobias and anxiety. Ultimately, each dog is unique and their breed will not necessarily determine their anxieties or phobias. It will all boil down to the dog’s predispositions, upbringing, and how well they are able to cope with their phobias.
Encouraging the Behavior
Most dogs with fears, whether balloons or other dogs, are not well socialized. Socialization is not as simple as introducing the dog to a few people and a couple of dogs. It takes more than that. If you are going to socialize your dog, you have to do it right and this takes quite some time, as long as 8 weeks. Experts suggests introducing the puppy to at least a dozen people per week every week during that time period. They also suggest introducing the puppy to a few dogs each week and going to places which are not overwhelming. Furthermore, socialization is more than just introducing the puppy to other puppies and people. It also means introducing the puppy to new activities and objects. Keep in mind that socialization must be done in a few different seasons, as much as possible. For example, you might find that your dog is fearful of snow and people dressed in snow gear if he was only socialized during summer. Putting your dog in situations which they are not prepared for will not yield good results. Dog owners often have unrealistic expectations of their pooches and most of these expectations are based on myths that dogs always like other dogs, which is not always the case. It is a must to remember that each dog is a unique case when it comes to behavioral issues or anxiety. This is why it is important to consult the experts in dog behavior when faced with problems. Even a fear of simple things such as thunderstorms can have complex roots. That being said, most dog owners will not consult experts unless the dog’s fears have been negatively impacting the dog’s life, as well as the owner’s. However, you cannot ask the dog if the fear has been negatively impacting his life and even if you did, he likely won’t give you an answer.
Other Solutions and Considerations
One helpful things which experts recommend, that will make training your dog easier, is to use food. Their sense of smell plays a vital part of their daily activities, including their interactions with their surroundings and with people and is far superior than ours and you can “deactivate” the emotions of anxiety and fear by replacing it with the positive responses that food elicits. A dog’s sense of smell can them conquer their fears. There are no quick fixes to any dog’s fearful behavior. Just as people require periods of therapy, it also takes months and maybe even years to see results. Be patient, behavior modification takes time and a lot of love.
Seeing your dog whimper and shiver the sight and sound of a balloon, a thunderstorm or other things can be especially difficult for dog owners. Dogs are more than just man’s best friend. They are also members of the family and for most dog owners, they are their confidante. If you notice your dog with an immense fear of something, it is important that you consult an expert in dog behavior right away. The earlier it is addressed, the better and happier your dog will be.
By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/30/2020