This is a continuation of last week’s subject, Canine fear factors and what to do about them. Last week the main fears covered were storms and fear of strangers and what to do if your pup shows either of these fears. This week will cover more fears of people, how the dog reacts to the fear and what to do about it.
Starting with problems with strangers (to the animal) and various household articles that often cause a fear reaction, Cheri Carbone, local animal behaviorist and trainer, gave me many of these fear factors.
Last week I mentioned Carbone said the dog should always approach the person, not the other way around. This week I will add, no matter how small the dog or pup is, do not bend over the dog. Instead, crouch or sit in a chair or a stool so you can reach the animal without bending over. Remember to have a treat ready to reward the dog.
Now, one big response that new owners howl about is that their puppy urinates a small amount when people, even family members sometimes, touch or try to pick up the animal. Yes, this is very disconcerting, but it is a normal instinctual action. The pup realizes it is “low man on the totem pole.” To show submission, the youngster might squat and dribble some urine, or it might roll over on its back and wet itself. It does help if you scream or act any way but calm. Carbone says to ignore the dog and walk away, but speak to the dog and offer a treat if it gets up and comes to you.
One of my friends had a rescue dog that was extremely upset when she shook out the garbage bag to line the pail. “It’s the weird noise when it is shaken open,” Carbone says. If your dog gets upset with this item, lay the bag on the floor and move it around slowly until the dog considers it no big deal. The same reaction can occur with shipping tape on a spool, and the same principles can be used.
Carbone says, “Animals aren’t stupid, but we throw things at them that are not in their world. We need to introduce such items as vacuum cleaners, motorcycles, mowers, in other words, big, noisy machines that move.” In introducing these noisy items, start with the thing off and let the dog sniff it. Then, with the machine 30-40 feet away, start the motor. On a long line, slowly bring the dog toward the machine, letting him set the pace, but with the handler verbally encouraging him. Offer a treat or toy as the dog responds positively. Repeat daily until the dog ignores the noise. Always show the dog you are in control of the situation.
If anyone has a problem with their dog and would like advice, Carbone is willing to counsel over the telephone. Call her at (859) 583-1774.