There is a myriad of reasons that cause dogs to become frightened – some are rational and others we do not always understand. At the top of the list are fireworks and thunderstorms, but dogs can also become frightened when separated from their owners, confronting unfamiliar objects and animals, or when meeting people they don’t know. The most common symptoms of a frightened dog are urination, shaking and whimpering, cowering, or running away.
Identify What’s Frightening Your Dog
Even though some dogs are anxious by nature, your dog should never be frightened for no apparent reason. If it’s possible to remove the cause of the fear or move your dog from the location of the issue, this should make it easier to calm him temporarily.
Fear is Not a Voluntary Reaction
Our staff at Healthy Tails Retreat wants you to realize that your dog’s fear isn’t a voluntary reaction, so don’t let yourself become annoyed, aggravated, upset or angry with your dog when your dog becomes frightened, as this won’t help the situation. It’s not your dog’s intention to make you upset, so take a deep breath and stay calm. Dogs pick up on our emotions, so if you’re negatively impacted by their fear, they’ll pick up on that, making it harder to calm them down. When your dog is frightened, he’s extremely vulnerable, so he needs for you to remain calm so that he’ll feel safe. Reassure your dog that everything will be fine by speaking quietly and soothingly to him.
Helping Your Dog Calm Itself
One of the best ways to calm your dog when you are away from home is to give them a job to do. Ask them to sit down, lay down shake hands, any of the tricks that they may know. Practice by working on the behavior in many situations instantly. Remember to give treats, when they can focus on you and on the treats they will be less fearful. If fear sparks a flight response in your dog, the best way to counter this is to create a safe place your dog can flee to escape the source of that fear, such as a large blanket covering the dog crate with soft blankets inside. He needs somewhere where he feels safe once he becomes frightened or anxious – somewhere he can retreat to. Sometimes chew toys help. If you don’t own a dog crate, you could set up bedding in a corner of a room or the back of a closet (anywhere away from the source of his fear) and train your dog to retreat there.
Just as aromatherapy helps calm humans, it can help calm dogs and cat that have been frightened as well. Ask us about available pheromones that will help to calm your dog or cat when they are stressed. These can be sprayed on a blanket or carrier for whole room treatment, diffusers are available.
Desensitizing Your Dog
Another way to calm a frightened dog is to desensitize them to what they fear most, which is normally done over time. You’ll first need to identify the things or objects which are the source of their fear. While some dogs are frightened by objects like clippers, grooming combs or a vacuum cleaner, others are fearful of having their paws or ears touched. They can’t tell us what’s causing their anxiety, so we need to be cognizant of their emotions to figure this out ourselves.
Healthy Tails Retreat is well known for their ability to work with dogs who suffer from severe fearfulness. If you need assistance with a dog that has fright issues, we can help. Please give us a call so that we may enable your dog to live a calmer, healthier life.