The Dog Is Afraid of Cars, Tram, The Other Dog

How to Help The Dog to Conquer Its Fears?

It`s known, that one can accustom a dog not to be afraid of any subject, person, other dogs or any other irritant using habituation or methods of operant conditioning wherein the dog is trained to respond positively to the certain object with the helping of dog treats and encouragement. For this purpose the dog is exposed this irritant until it stops responding to it. Thus, however, a grave mistake is made at times: the dog trainer can`t correctly choose an action force of the irritant.

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Remember, for example, how the dog is accustomed to shots in the courses of dog obedience training. Video filming of such kind of "therapy" imprinted the dog`s cry and thrashing and the attempts of the dog trainer to keep it from escape. Such dog trainers claim that, despite a panic, the dog anyway is get used to the unpleasant object. However, it not so: many dogs are traumatised intensely by the irritant they are accustomed during such therapy. Sooner or later dogs give up and shut down showing the strongest signal of reconciliation "freezing". Such behaviour is taken for "success of training". Besides, the dog can get additional negative associations with other objects around, which were neutral before because of fear during disorganized therapy.


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In human medicine the plan of accustoming to frightening irritants is developed together with the patient. So, German physicians eliminate fear of dogs creating numerous barriers between the patient and the dog. In the process of accustoming of the patient to the degree of closeness to the dog, the barriers are gradually removed. Thus the patient tells himself to the physician about the willingness to pass to the following step of treatment.

We can`t ask the dog about anything. However, we can define its state by the delicate signals that express its internal stress - they are the signals of reconciliation.

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So, if your dog is afraid of the other dogs, you can ask it to look on unfamiliar dogs from away, which the dog seems to be safe and, thus, to get accustomed to its presence. Thus you can call it with soft, tender tone to watch at this object, for example, pointing to it with a glance or a finger. It is important that the dog should be calm at the distance not only outwardly: it shouldn`t show the strong signals of reconciliation (to freeze, turn its back, etc.). When the dog will feel itself more easier in the presence of the slight irritant, you can lead it closer.

The signals of reconciliation give the opportunity to make the training softer, without getting stress for the dog owner and the dog. Quite often you can train your dog without the dog trainer.

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The dog I`ve rescued was afraid of transport. When we went by subway or by bus, she fussed, squeaked from excitement and pissed in the tube of fear. I arranged dog walks so that we passed a subway platform as if between this and then, we stopped for a second on a bus station and walked down the streets, from where the dog could see the transport. The dog is got accustomed to various cars and even liked the trips with time. All this became possible only because the dose of the unpleasant irritant was no more than the dog could stand not only without stress, but also without the strong internal stress during the dog training.

You can enforce the dog`s behaviour with a dog treat during therapy if you want, however, as practice shows, such reinforcement is optional as the dog is trained within usual social communication and natural participation of the dog in life.

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Read also our article how to cope with a dog behind a fence.