The puppy was very scared: what to do? All about raising and training a puppy on wikipet!
Ekaterina Kastritskaya, psychologist, specialist in animal therapy, consultant on animal behavior and well-being
It often happens that a puppy is very scared of something at home or on the street. What should the owner do in such a situation so as not to aggravate the situation? Can a puppy be helped to overcome fear?
All puppies go through the so-called "period of fears". And at this time it is necessary to treat the puppy especially carefully so as not to instill in the pet a fear of certain things for the rest of his life. This happens when a frightening experience becomes traumatic for the puppy.
What to do if the puppy is very scared?
- Sometimes the owner is tempted to “knock out a wedge with a wedge” and immediately introduce the puppy to a frightening object in the immediate vicinity. Do not do this! The puppy needs to be given the opportunity to get acquainted with the frightening object, but it is also necessary to give it time to recover from the fright in order to avoid the effect of “layering of irritants” that can lead to trauma to the baby's psyche.
- Give the puppy the opportunity to observe the “scary things”, but only from the distance at which the baby is able to remain calm and relaxed. In this state, the dog is able to learn something, including calmly treat terrible irritants. If a puppy is frightened or overexcited, he will not learn anything good.
- Do not drag the puppy to frightening objects by force and do not lure a treat. Give your baby the choice and the opportunity to independently decide to start a closer acquaintance. Watch your pet’s body language, and if you notice signs of stress, it means you have reduced the distance too much or increased the strength of the stimulus. If you force the puppy to approach the irritant too quickly or the puppy is forced to interact with it for too long, it will become even more frightened, and you will only aggravate the problem.
- Use contingency to form pleasant associations with a frightening object. As a rule, a dog’s favorite treat is used to create new associations. However, it is important to apply this method correctly so as not to aggravate the fear of the pet, so you may need specialist help.
- If the puppy's behavior has changed too dramatically, you should consult a veterinarian to make sure he is healthy. Sometimes fear is associated with pain. And if the root of the problem is the well-being of the pet, no behavioral correction will help.
Remember that many behavioral abnormalities are easiest to correct at the very beginning, rather than waiting for them to develop into a real problem. So do not delay.
If you are not sure that you will be able to cope on your own, it may make sense to seek the help of a competent specialist working by the method of positive reinforcement.