Most dog owners get concerned when their furry friends go through fear periods. The fact that you are here means that you, too, may be worried, and you want to know if there’s anything you can do to help your dog. Well, the first thing you should know is that those fear periods are quite normal in dogs and most go through them.
As your trusted dog training blog, we want to share with you some helpful information on fear periods and what you can do to help your beloved do get through them:
What Is a Fear Period?
Fear periods are windows of cognitive and developmental change that usually happen once or twice in the dog’s first year of life. They are temporary and actually serve a purpose in the development of the puppy, so you shouldn’t dread them completely. During a fear period, the dog’s brain undergoes extreme change and reorganization.
Fear period usually presents itself through sudden changes in behavior, that for an unsuspecting owner could be alarming. For instance, you might notice your dog getting suspicious or easily spooked by new things around him.
It’s essential for dogs to develop and understand a pattern of what’s safe for them and what is not. The owner’s task, on the other hand, is to make sure that those patterns are not messed up by unpleasant experiences.
Common Symptoms of a Fear Period
While the symptoms can vary between dogs, there are some common ones that suddenly manifest:
- Acts scared of animals, unfamiliar objects, and people
- Easily startles at noises and even their reflection
- Barks when new things appear
- Backs away from people and things
- Shows fearful body language like tucked tail, pinned ears, and uncontrolled urination
- Dramatic behavioral change
When Fear Periods Happen
Fear periods can happen anytime and some dogs don’t even go through them. But if your dog does, the most common ages where this happens is between 8-11 weeks of age and between 6 and 14 months. They last about two to three weeks.
How You Can Help Your Dog Through His Fear Period
You are probably thinking about how you could help your dog through this tough period to ensure that there are no long-term effects on your dog. Here are some of the things that you should do:
When you first take the puppy home, give them a few days to settle in before you start any formal training. When you do start training, avoid methods that could create suspicion or fear from the puppy. As much as possible use positive reinforcements.
Make sure that you transport the puppy by car or if they’re traveling by plane, you should fly them in the cabin and not in cargo.
Do not overwhelm the puppy by exposing them to everybody at once! Do socialization properly. When meeting other dogs, keep them from on-leash greetings. Do not force interaction especially with other animals in the house. Allow your dog to explore and discover them at their own pace.
Make sure you inform your vet and groomer that your dog is going through a fear period so they’ll know how to handle your pet during their visit.
Fear periods are not a permanent issue, although it may feel like it when your dog is going through one for days. The best thing you can do is to be gentle and patient with your beloved pet during these periods. Also, make sure that you keep track of when you noticed the onset of the change in their behavior. If it’s been over three weeks and it appears their behavior is worsening, it’s best to seek the help of a professional trainer so you’ll know how to train a dog and help them overcome their fears.
If you want to learn more about caring for your dog and dealing with certain issues, do check out some of Dog Obedience Training’s posts. We are one of the best dog training blogs that aim to provide dog owners with helpful information on obedience training and other relevant topics. Check out our articles today!