When everyday life is scary
Despite their difficult history, the majority of dogs from animal welfare abroad settle into their new home amazingly quickly, gain confidence in their people and frolic around with dog buddies.
Nevertheless, many of them still have one or the other fear, be it strange men, large vehicles, loud noises or a walk into the city …
“He’s getting used to it!” Thinks, or rather: one might hope, but the fact is that you can’t get used to fear. It doesn’t get less the more you have it. On the contrary: at some point you start to fear fear yourself.
The so-called confrontation therapy, in which people are specifically exposed to the stimulus that triggers the strongest fears, cannot be transferred to dogs: people choose this form of therapy, they are not simply exposed to it. You will be comprehensively informed and thoroughly prepared by a trained therapist. And they are able to reflect on what they have experienced – to say afterwards “Oh look, nothing bad happened to me”. None of this applies to our dogs. They just know that once again we put them in a situation where they were terrified.
Not only do we not help them in this way – we also gamble away their trust.
Nevertheless, so-called flooding (overstimulation) can lead to an apparent “training success”: If a dog is exposed to an intolerable situation again and again and experiences that none of his reactions save him from it, sooner or later he will resign and don’t respond at all. The result is a “very calm dog” – albeit at the price that an alert, attentive creature withdraws completely into itself.
“”It didn’t hurt mine either!” You will probably hear again and again if you want to save your dog from such “therapy attempts””. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? “The few slaps in the face didn’t hurt me either!” – but we don’t beat our children anymore.
Of course, a trusting relationship with his person can help a dog through difficult situations, but with pronounced fears, trust alone is not enough.
For example, I am afraid of heights. And I trust my partner. If I now notice that my knees are weak in an exposed area, this trust is of no use to me at all. It doesn’t help me a bit if he stays calm!
A hand that leads me back to a place where the view is not that scary helps me! It may sound paradoxical at first, but I can face scary situations much more courageously if I can be sure that someone is there to get me out of them when in doubt.
If you notice that your dog is suffering from pronounced fears, please avoid the triggers – if possible – and involve a trainer with the appropriate training / experience.
In this context there is always talk of patience and love and yes! – you will need them! But nowhere does it say that you have to do it alone with patience and love. Let us help you.
There is a wide range of training options and aids that you can use to support you – your trainer will help you to select and use them exactly as it suits you and your dog.