If instead of rejoicing in the presence of another dog, your dog is fighting in retreat with its ears down and its tail between its legs, pay attention to it, because it is telling you that its emotion is not exactly one of joy. Next we will explain the reason for your fears and we will give some tips to combat them.
Fear, a defense mechanism
Dogs are sociable animals and almost everyone loves to play and frolic with their peers, but some may be afraid of strangers , things, and even other dogs.
If your dog is one of those who, when meeting another, shuns him, shrinks or growls at him defiantly, you should know that, in his body language, he is saying: “Stay away and stay away, I distrust your intentions.”
The fact that your dog is afraid should not frustrate you, since it is a defense mechanism against situations that he perceives as negative.
The key lies in knowing how to cope with or redirect these fears to prevent them from turning into phobias capable of tormenting them and preventing them from interacting, in a pleasant way and without stress, with other dogs.
In this post we propose several strategies so that you can reconcile, in a positive way, your dog’s relationship with the environment that surrounds him and, specifically, with his four-legged peers.
Dogs with fear, causes
Dogs fearful of other dogs often have strong reasons for maintaining their attitude.
It is in our hands to perpetuate or resolve this conflict and, to achieve this, we must know the causes:
- Bad experiences
A host of traumatic experiences, lived in the past, can leave a dent in the mind of your dog, in such a way that, over time, it degenerates into fear, and even phobia , regarding the environment and the beings that surround it.
If your dog is adopted, try to find out relevant information about his life in the shelter and until you reach him, they will help you to undertake the educational work. In these cases, the collaboration of an expert in canine behavior will be essential.
- Lack of socialization
The lack of relationship of the puppies with each other or with other dogs, or lack of socialization, has a remedy, although the correction is somewhat complex in the adult stage and, often, requires the guidance of an ethologist or canine educator.
Ideally, socialization begins when the dogs are still puppies , since it is a blank stage in which the animals begin to define their behavior, without constraints that condition them, such as fears of trauma experienced in the past.
A puppy hardly has a past and, therefore, it is easy to educate him in the acceptance of the various elements that make up his present, such as other dogs, but also: noise, cars, people, cats, birds, guinea pigs or other animals, toys, household appliances, etc.
To redirect the fears of our adult dogs, the first thing we must know is their reasons, and since they cannot explain them, we have to find out, one way or another.
One way to get to the root of the disorder is to write down, one by one, all the behaviors that our dogs perceive as distressing.
This field work will be very useful to us to get closer to the feeling of our dog but, probably, we will need the help of an ethologist or canine educator, to finish solving the conflicts in a satisfactory way.
“If your dog has not had contact with his brothers, or with other dogs in their most tender stage of life, it is understandable that he is not used to interacting with his peers and is afraid”
- Fears of a misdirected education
Sometimes, it is precisely the behavior of humans that aggravates the situation of fear of dogs.
When a dog is afraid of other dogs, it is best to maintain a neutral position, removing the animal from what causes fear, but without exaggerating the situation or making a drama.
In short, what it is all about is having a left hand so that, little by little, the fearful dog realizes that the others only want to play with him and that together he will enjoy much more.
Saddlebags are needed for this trip, as you may need the help of an animal behavior specialist , such as an ethologist or canine educator.
Tips to help your dog not be afraid of other dogs
A problem that has taken a long time to develop cannot be solved overnight.
That your dog enjoys the company and complicity of other dogs is a goal that requires technique, patience and a gradual period of adaptation. Slowly, but surely, it is possible to reach it.
Let’s see some procedures that will help you in the attempt:
It is a technique that, applied to fearful dogs, gives very good results, although it requires a great deal of patience and affection.
Desensitizing means continuing with walks and outings to the park or the mountains, where our dog will meet the object of his fears. When this happens, we will maintain the comfort distance and progressively shorten it. Every time we get a little closer and our dog feels calm, we will congratulate him, and so on until all his fears are dispelled.
Another option is to choose places frequented by quiet dogs to raise the bar for difficulty with other more impetuous dogs.
Counter-conditioning or reverse conditioning is a technique designed to modify unwanted behaviors in dogs. It consists of associating what the dog is afraid of with something pleasant for him.
With this technique, what is intended is that your dog gradually associates disturbing situations with rewarding experiences; An example would be playing with your dog or giving him a treat when the other dogs approach; the formula: dogs close + games or treats = positive experience, it is very effective.
Whatever the method, the essential thing is to carry it out, progressively, and adapting it to the dog’s responses, lovingly and without punishment, since these would only aggravate the problem.
We hope that your dog will enjoy being with other colleagues and will have a “fun” time, in the good sense of the word!