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Dog Fear

 Reviewed 30 October 2017 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion
fear in dogs
dog fear aggression

Got a fearful dog or fearful puppy?

  • dog has fear of people or fear of dogs? Cat fear?
  • fear of thunder, fear of loud noises or fear of noises in general?
  • fear of socializing?
  • dealing with puppy fear periods, puppy fear stage?
  • noticing dog fear aggression?
  • need fearful dog training?

We get all those questions and dog problems, and more! Here are a few.

Because fear in dogs is very common. Unfortunately fear aggression in dogs is common too. And before you ask, the fearful German Shepherd Dog also is common, yes. Including the fear aggressive dog. Often puppy aggression also is down to fear. While some dog owners already mention the fearful dog or fearful puppy, others report dog problems without realizing that in fact they have a fearful German Shepherd Dog or a fearful puppy. A lot of dog aggression is caused by fear. If that is your case, also see Dog Fear Aggression.

Unnoticed by most GSD owners, dog fear or dog anxiety is very common among German Shepherd Dogs too.

The prime cause of fear in dogs is the Pack conflict experienced by dogs! Because this Pack conflict causes permanent stress for the dog. Permanent stress weakens the nervous system so much that it ultimately results in a generally fearful dog (which may then even turn into dog aggression). Therefore I would suggest you consider and address the Pack conflict first.

Related, but not always occurring concurrently, is Separation Anxiety in dogs. Naturally Separation Anxiety often is thought to be "impossible with my dog!", since the reason for such anxiety is that you are away. wink

Like other moods, dog fear or dog anxiety can, and should, be addressed via several senses:

  • sight: Initially avoiding objects and/or situations that you have identified to visually fear the dog, AND/OR focusing the dog's attention onto calming objects/sights.

  • smell: What a dog smells has significant impact on the dog's mood too. And so using calming essential oils like lavender oil can help enormously to treat dog anxiety. To learn more about the benefits of using the right essential oils see this book.

  • touch: Dog massage is known to not only help with physical health issues but also with mental health issues, with moods, both in people and in dogs. One of these may suit your needs: Canine Massage Reference Manual, Complete Dog Massage Manual, or the video course Dog Massage Secrets.

  • hearing: In our noisy world it should be no surprise that many dogs suffer immensely from general noise levels in your environment as well as specific noises (and indeed, not just thunder or fireworks). Interestingly, it has been found that even dogs that seem not to suffer from noise become significantly calmer when calming noises are played in the background (including when you are away, thus in situations of Separation Anxiety). The best or most comprehensive compilation of calming noises for dogs is the book and CD Through a Dog's Ear.

  • thermoception: Adjusting the temperature if indicated. For example a dog that feels hot obviously feels stressed, and that stress may turn into anxiety.

  • vibrissaception: For example a draft at the dog's crate place will permanently stimulate the dog's vibrissae (the hairs around the mouth etc), even while the dog is lying still and trying to stay calm. Hence why a dog may experience stress when subjected to a draft.

  • nociception: Addressing any causes of pain if indicated. Presumably most pain in dogs originates in the muscular system or in the skeletal system, thus they have to do with the dog's mobility. The top mobility remedy is Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM. While these can (and should) be given daily, administering dog pain killers must remain an exception because they do not address the cause!

If after you identify the cause of your dog's fear you address the dog's anxiety via several senses, you have a much better success rate.

The worst one could do when dealing with dog fear or dog anxiety is to resort to methods of Obedience Training, because you cannot discipline a dog to have less fear. Instead, your behavior should consistently signal the dog that fear is unnecessary: you have everything under control.

Our list of descriptive dog behavior adjectives will help you to precisely describe behavior. We have made this required reading when you seek a Help With Dog.

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