Just because Fido is not allowed to star in the popular reality game show Fear Factor doesn’t mean that he is free of fears.
Common phobias include a fear of people, other dogs, nail trims, and cars. Employing a dog trainer to help with behaviour modification is ideal, but if you’re looking for something you can try at home first, here are a few ideas.
This method works on the simple premise of pairing something scary with something good so the “scary” would slowly be associated with the “good”. For example, you can try giving your pooch a special treat whenever he obediently allows you to trim its nails.
Over time, he’ll learn that nail trimming time is also treat time, which is a good thing to look forward to. However, while an easy concept, the execution of it might not be that simple.
Your pooch may not understand what you're trying to achieve and there is a likelihood of you making things worse. As such, this is best done with the help of a professional dog trainer.
Slow & Steady
Remember, when working with your pooch to overcome his fears, don’t rush it. Your dog needs to get over his fear in his own time, not yours.
Forcing him to confront his fears might backfire, so always provide him with an “escape plan” in case anything gets out of hand. That will help him feel in-charge of the situation and lessen his fear. It could be as simple as allowing him to back away from someone that he is scared of rather than coercing him to be petted.
Music has been proven to help calm dogs that live with stress, anxiety, and fear. That said, it’s unlikely that your pooch will appreciate tunes by mainstream pop stars like Nicki Minaj and the like.
Go for something more furkid-friendly instead: Companies like Pet Acoustics and Through a Dog's Ear have created music specially tailored for your pooch. Playing this during training or when your pooch is experiencing stress can help him to relax.
Mat work is another strategy that could help your pooch to relax in scary situations. Instruct Fido to go to his mat. Then, ask him lay down and ‘stay’.
Doing this gives your anxious furkid a task to focus on, thus distracting him from whatever is happening around him.
Building A Relationship
Fearful dogs are usually insecure in general. As a pet owner, you can do your bit by working on building a strong, trusting relationship with your pet.
This helps your dog be more confident around you, so he does not flip out the moment he senses something he might be afraid of. Bonding over frequent games, outings, and training classes will certainly help.
*This article was updated on 10 May 2021