How to Deal with your Dog’s Phobias

Some superstitious behaviors can balloon into full phobias, where the dog is so frightened of an event or sound that he cannot cope with it. This can lead to massive destruction as well as self-mutilation, because some dogs chew on their feet and legs to relieve their anxiety.

Phobias are the same for dogs as they are for people: excessive fear associated with an event or experience. As you know, many people are afraid of heights or spiders. Phobic dogs (who are otherwise perfectly normal), on the other hand, tend to show extreme fear of noises, especially those that are loud and crackling. The fear begins with one event and escalates very quickly to terror.

Dog's Phobias

Thunderstorm phobia is relatively common in some areas of the country where there are lots of storms. Many dogs show the same responses to fireworks (with the result that shelters all over the country receive hundreds more strays on July 4 and the day after). A terrified dog will do anything to get away from the sound. If he’s inside, he’ll try to get out, sometimes going through a window. If he’s outside, he’ll try to go inside, or he’ll jump the fence to get out of his yard. A dog with thunderstorm phobia is a pitiful sight, running from place to place in the house, looking for somewhere the noise is not. Many of these dogs hide in bathtubs or next to pipes in basements. Some people theorize about “grounding” or some other physical reason why dogs do this.

Oftentimes, phobias develop later in life. In fact, it’s one of the few problem behaviors that tend to develop over time. I have had several clients with dogs who spent their first few years accepting noises of all kinds, but then later developed major problems as they reached middle age (six and up).

Behavior modification method

Whatever the cause of a dog’s phobia, behavior modification is extremely difficult and usually involves extensive desensitization. I suggest you see an experienced, reputable behaviorist or veterinarian to treat these problems. They may suggest the use of calming drugs while you work on the modification process.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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