Mon-Fri 8 to 5:30
Sat. by appointment only
31310 Woodhaven Trail
Cannon Falls, MN 55009
Click here for map
651-222-0885 Twin Cities
Canine Fears and Phobias
Dogs may be frightened or
phobic of noises, people, other animal species, places, or
things. Their reaction is determined by their genetics,
stage of development, previous experiences, and their
emotional condition at the time of exposure. We constantly
stress the importance of proper socialization (to different
people and environments) for all young puppies less than 14
weeks of age.
Their innate responses are
genetically programmed into their behavior such as fear of a
predator. When frightened their instinctive response is to
“fight or flight”. Their fear is reinforced when they run
away (flight response) from a frightful experience and
safely reach their zone of comfort. A dangerous alternative
is fear aggression, which results in the stimulus moving
away or leaving, such as (delivery man, biker, or jogger).
When the stimulus moves away, the dog experiences immediate
gratification and is rewarded by expressing their aggressive
traits. If the stimulus does not move away, the fear
aggression may result in a person or child getting bit or
the dog may end up in a dog fight.
One of the largest
contributing factors to a phobia is when owners reinforce
fearful behavior. When a stimulus (scary situation) is
present, owners attempt to comfort their dog by speaking
softly and offering physical comfort or food rewards. This
attention reinforces their dog’s fearful response and
increases their fear of the stimulus. The phobia gets worse
each time the dog is rewarded for their fearful response. On
the other hand, punishing the fear response can also
increase their uneasiness with the situation and reinforce
their phobia. Every situation is different and it is
important to contact CVS to schedule an appointment.
When the stimulus is
present, fearful dogs may whine, tremble, avoid eye contact,
place their tail between their legs, lower their head and
body, pin their ears back, and raise their hackles.
Uncontrolled urination and defecation may also occur. Some
dogs may try to hide in small dark areas.
Fear of Noises (One of the
most common fears)
The most common stimuli are
thunderstorms, fireworks, gunshots, trains, garbage trucks,
or construction equipment. They are easy to recognize and
difficult to control.
Fear of People
Dogs that are improperly socialized as young puppies develop
a fear of new people and lack the ability to trust. They
exhibit a fear response of babies, children, disabled
people, people in uniform, a person that moves too quickly
into their space or comfort zone and an individual that has
caused an uncomfortable experience for them. An example
would be a dog that is fearful of a groomer because she
trimmed its toenails.
Fear of Animals
Dogs that were improperly socialized may be frightened of
other dogs and other species. Examples are dogs exhibiting
fear when they are introduced to new dogs, cats or horses.
They may growl or excessively bark.
Fear of Places
Many dogs are challenged when they enter unfamiliar
environments or buildings. They may exhibit fear when
entering crowded areas or rooms with slippery or shiny
CVS Treatment Objective
The treatment objective is to teach your pet that the
stimulus (it is fearful of) can be associated with a reward.
Do not reinforce their fearful behavior or inappropriate
reaction by petting, verbally praising, or physically
rewarding their fearful behavior. Instead, reward them for
the appropriate behaviors only. First we identify the
stimulus. Then we desensitize your pet by helping them “face
their fears”. We reward the calm and relaxed behaviors.
The prognosis is dependent
on several factors such as the breed and age of the pet, the
dominance factor, the duration of the fearful behavior, and
the owner’s diligence with training. For success, it is
vital that the behavior modification techniques be used
correctly and precisely.
By teaching your dog the behaviors you prefer, they learn
how to work for your attention in a productive manner,
rather than in a fearful or mischievous way.
Our extensive experience and knowledge allows us to succeed
where others may fail. We pride ourselves on staying current
with the new training techniques by attending continuing
education seminars. This allows us to bring new information
to you, the client. We maintain extraordinary success
because of our trainer’s passion and commitment to bringing
a new meaning to the phrase “A dog’s life”!!