As any dog owner would attest, our beloved furbabys often have their fair share of fears. While many dogs are able to live happy, healthy lives and eventually overcome these issues with time, there are some instances where living with these problems become far more intrusive. With fear comes stress and anxiety, and it’s safe to say that none of us want our beloved pooch to be distressed if we can help it. Here are the most common fears of dogs and how to help overcome them.
Most commonly caused by fireworks and thunderstorms, this is an issue that plagues many dogs and their owners. When your furbaby begins crying or acting upset, the natural reaction of course is to pick them up and cuddle them until the storm – literally and figuratively – has passed. Unfortunately, this often encourages this behaviour in the future by suggesting to them that fear and panic is an appropriate response. Instead, try to go about your day as usual and distract them with a toy or game they love. This promotes normal behaviour and gives them less reason to think that they should be scared. Adding background music or turning on the television while distracting your pet will help take their focus away from the scary noises outside.
It is imperative you don’t tether or restrain your pet during fireworks or a thunder storm. They are likely to panic and injure themselves. If you can’t be home with your pet, keep them in a small room (like the laundry) with plenty of toys and comfortable blankets. It may be worth keeping a radio or television on as an added distraction.
Everyone knows that a dog is a man’s best friend, but what happens when that best friend can’t bear to be separated from you while you’re at work, on holiday or out socialising? This commonly manifests in ways such as whining, barking and destruction of their surrounding environment. If your dog suffers from mild anxiety of this kind, it is suggested that you take them for a walk or play an active game with them right before you leave, as exercise can help with stress. Try to avoid making a bid deal about leaving. This gets your dog worked up in anticipation of your departure. It’s best you give a quick goodbye and exit with no fuss.
Another tip is to practice leaving. With little fuss, walk out the door for a short period and return calmly. Increase the length of time your away until your pet recognises your departure isn’t the end of the world and are reassured you always return.
For severe or prolonged cases, it’s recommended that you seek the help of a qualified behavioural therapist for your frightened pooch.
Unsurprisingly, it is thought that one of the biggest reasons car rides are a cause for major phobias in dogs is because they are commonly associated with unpleasant destinations. To remedy this, you can attempt to create a more positive experience by making the destination something that they will enjoy, such as a park or beach. Start with very short trips and slowly increase the distance over time. It may take some time, but eventually your furbaby should come to see the car as a more positive experience rather than a negative one.
As always, if your dog is experiencing anxiety and prolonged phobias, we recommend you consult a behavioural therapist for a professional advice to help your best friend.