Question concerning Traumatized Dog
"I have a 5 months old male GSD. But once when he was only one month old, he was attacked by a street dog and now he is afraid of other dogs. What can I do?"
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The same that I have done with my new puppy. I somewhat systematically exposed him to the same situations (and even in the same environment) but controlled situations. First at a distance, and progressively going closer. Always making sure he felt safe with me by his side (also helps the bonding).
I also spoke reassuringly to the puppy in a calm setting at home on his bedding, and the same outside when we came close to situations that I knew from experience make him uncomfortable. I always get down to the dog's eyesight for this. All of this leads to one another:
- Reassuring at home - Dog feels safe
- Reassuring outside in uncomfortable situations - Dog associates that he can feel safe
- Controlling the situation - Dog experiences that nothing happens to him
- Fending off "attacking" dogs - Dog sees confirmation that he can feel safe
About the last one you may be wondering "HOW?" - Well, that's another situation where Sara Hodgson's strong genuine leather leash is so helpful: I think this was the fifth purpose that I was using Sarah's leash for! I was swinging the leash around us towards that stray "hound night encounter" - My New Puppy Diary viewers have seen it on video.
Conversely, isolating your puppy from other dogs, that would be terribly wrong: You cannot reduce and eliminate fear with avoidance measures, only with exposure to controlled situations. So what means "controlled"?
Controlled means, nothing can happen, you have it all under control: The other dogs are behind a fence, or the other dogs are on the leash and the owner is strong or determined, or you know from experience that the other dogs will remain calm no matter what.
The key to the solution for a traumatized dog is a somewhat systematic socialization. The more you socialize your puppy (here with other dogs), the more chances you are giving your dog to learn which dogs he can play with, and which dogs reveal with their body language that he better stays away! Learning from experience - but again controlled experiences, such that nothing can happen.
We actually have a neighbor here close by who doesn't let her large Retriever mingle with other dogs (well, several such neighbors, but I am thinking of a certain neighbor now). Three times I've been telling her: "Don't keep your dog on a short leash and hiding him from other dogs, he needs to socialize", and each time she replied: "No, he doesn't like other male dogs, he is not good with them".
Now see the photo where her dog ends up all the time! Day and night locked out on a small apartment balkony, because her owner convinced herself that she can't take the dog anywhere! So now she briefly walks her dog to relieve, avoiding all other dogs when doing so, and at all other times the poor dog is just sitting depressed on that balkony!
How I know the dog is depressed? Everytime we pass that house I speak to the dog, I even swing the tail of the Tail teaser close to him for him to have some FUN - or at least some distraction from the monotony his owner is exposing him to. Yet, he doesn't react at all. All life has left him. He is just sitting there and staring always in the same direction!
This is a typical outcome for dogs of people who decide it's "better" to keep their dog only to themselves. - Well, you see she doesn't have anything from the dog now! And the dog doesn't have a life either!