Dogs have very keen senses, especially smell and hear them much better than humans. These skills help them survive. However, they also make them very sensitive to their environment, which can trigger certain uncertainties and fears. Fears in dogs can be genetic, there are more fearful breeds than others. But they can also be the result of incorrect or missing socialization and, of course, previous (negative) experiences. The following fears are among the most common fears in dogs, which usually have a strong effect on one or more of their senses.
It used to be said that comforting, loving behavior towards the dog in such a fear situation would increase his fear, the majority of veterinarians and psychologists contradict this today. They say that comforting behavior cannot increase fear, and that everything should be done to help the dog comfort and provide security.
- Fear of fireworks
Most dogs are afraid of fireworks. This is the most common cause of anxiety in dogs. Some dogs get panicky. They are afraid of the loud noises, visual effects but also the special smell of fireworks. In addition, some breeds seem to be more susceptible to loud noises than others. It can then help to walk the dog into a quiet, darkened room where it is shielded from the noises and light effects. You can also build a “cave” out of pillows and blankets. Background music or a familiar sound like the television on-stream can also help to distract you from the background noise caused by the fireworks.
- Fear of thunderstorms
Dogs hear at least twice, probably three times better than humans. It is no wonder that loud thunders scare them during thunderstorms. The glaring flashes of light and the statically charged air can also cause an anxiety reaction in the dog. You feel the electric charge like a tingling sensation in the entire fur. That is why they often escape to basements or bathtubs, where there is a tendency to have less electrical charge. Rubbing the dog with a dryer sheet can help. These minimize static charges. Then use an odorless product to avoid exposing the dog to harmful chemicals. In addition, you can calm the dog during thunderstorms and alleviate the fear.
- Anxiety when driving
The fact that cars look big and loud on dogs and move far too quickly can cause dog anxiety. Therefore driving a car is also part of the basic training of a puppy. Because so that fears do not arise at all, you should get the puppy used to driving early. It then becomes normal for the dog. Dogs can also suffer from motion sickness when driving, which is associated with discomfort and often vomiting. Sure, they don’t like getting into the car. While pure fear can be managed through targeted training, motion sickness often has to be treated with medication. In any case, it helps to keep the dog in a forward-facing position in the car so that the scenery does not rush past him, which can also cause nausea in humans. In addition, the dog should have nothing to eat a few hours before driving. This can also help alleviate nausea and vomiting.
- Fear of the veterinarian
Most dogs are afraid of the veterinarian. In addition to the fact that it is also uncomfortable for dogs to get an injection or the treatment e.g. of a sprained leg or a torn, inflamed claw can make a visit to the veterinarian a sensory overload for most dogs. In addition to the multitude of strange smells, noises and visual effects, they also feel the fear and pain of the other animals and possibly also the grief of the people if they get bad news from the veterinarian, for example. Here it can help to do some vet visits with the puppy without medical treatment. If these visits are announced and the practice team is prepared accordingly, that is to say they receive the dog with games, pats and their favorite treats, the first necessary “real” visit to the vet will certainly not be so scary.
- Fear of being alone / or separation anxiety
The previous owner’s death, leaving, moving to a new home, or other drastic changes in a dog’s normal daily routine can trigger separation anxiety. In addition, some dog breeds such as Border Collie, Shelties and also German Shepherds seem to be predestined to develop such fear or phobia. Basically, every dog can be affected. Here, too, training can help optimally in the puppy age to get the dog used to being alone. The dog is initially left alone for a few minutes and at longer and longer intervals so that he can learn that his people keep coming back to him and that he does not develop any fears as a result. It can also assist in overcoming the pain of separation by giving the dog something that smells familiar to it, e.g. to leave a worn t-shirt.
- Fear of the dog salon
Similar to the fear of the veterinarian, here are some factors that can cause dog discomfort and, in some cases, phobia. Some dogs just don’t like water and therefore simply can’t get a bath or shower. Here, too, dogs feel and smell the discomfort or fear of other dogs. The sounds of a hair clipper or hair trimmer are rather unusual and are therefore often perceived as unpleasant. In addition, many dogs do not like to be fixed on the dressing table. If the owner leaves the salon for the time of grooming, a classic separation anxiety can increase the excitement of the dog. Being alone in an unfamiliar environment can even cause anxiety in some dogs. If possible, the cause of the fear should be found in the dog salon and dealt with accordingly. In many salons, mistresses and masters can be present during the care. If it doesn’t have to be, blow-drying is not necessary. The dog salon can also be made a little more palatable to the dog by visits without an application, but with the dog’s favorite snacks. And in general: keep calm yourself and signal to the dog that everything is OK.
- Fear of other dogs
Avoiding this fear is extremely dependent on the socialization of the dog. If puppies are separated from their mother and possibly their siblings too soon, they will lack important experience with their peers. Fear or aggression experienced in other dogs can also trigger trauma. Often a single negative experience with another dog is enough to develop a fear of others. Dealing with or overcoming a fear of other dogs can be very difficult. Some dog owners become over-protective and keep taking the dog out of supposedly dangerous situations with other dogs. They lift him up or pull on a leash when other dogs approach. In this way, the dog cannot have positive experiences in a row. On the contrary, his fear is heightened, because his people use their own behavior to signal that there is danger. It will be best here to get professional help from an experienced dog trainer or dog school.
- Fear of unknown objects
Dogs often react anxiously to unknown things or to things that make loud noises or move unfamiliarly. Fear of the vacuum cleaner, screaming, running children, balloons or even umbrellas are common. For this reason, many dog trainers advise to introduce the puppy to very different situations and to expose it to different stimuli so that it does not develop any fears later. Different things are trained in the dog school, often also opening an umbrella. From the beginning, the puppy should be trained to drive by car or bus. Even a trip to the shopping center cannot hurt, because there are many strange smells, people, including children, and the puppy learns how to deal with such situations.