Some dogs can be particularly timid and fearful by their nature or it can be a result of how they have been treated in the past if you have rescued the animal from a shelter. However, some fears are learnt by dogs, much like humans, some pets can develop phobias of vets, loud noises, punishment and being confined or left alone.
Animal lovers dedicate a lot of time to making sure their dog has the best nutritional diet with premium dog food and taking them for extensive walks. This means that many owners can be worried when their dog becomes scared and don't know the best way to deal with it.
Fear of other animals and people
Many dogs can be scared by people and other animals which can often stem from them being isolated when they were younger. It can also emerge from bad experiences with animals or people in the past.
You can ease this fear by carefully desensitising your pet which involves gradually putting them in situations where they are exposed to something that scares them. This is a delicate experience and you should make sure that in the first instance, whatever causes fear, is kept at a comfortable distance away from the dog. This will stop the dog getting alarmed when it notices it.
Over a period of time, you can carefully bring the stimulus closer to your dog and your pet should have become quite used to seeing its fear and should eventually just be able to ignore it. You may find that when your dog is presented with its fear it will look to you for a reward for not reacting which can be as simple as a pat or stroke.
You will find this is a starkly different reaction to the fearful and anxious dog that you had found previously and is key in reassuring the dog that the fear is no threat and that they are in a safe and comfortable environment.
This can be extended to almost any kind of fear including other dogs but this should be done very carefully and try and only surround your pet with good-tempered and calm dogs. Older pets are usually very good for this kind of treatment but remember to take it slowly and make it a relaxing environment for both animals.
If you are not confident or experienced enough that you can do this on your own or have tried and it is causing considerable stress to your pet then consult an experienced pet behaviourist. Some pets' fears can be more complex than others and animals can often react in unpredictable ways when they feel stressed or alarmed.
However, you shouldn't just avoid the fear as this can make the problem much worse over a period of time which can cause it to become deep-rooted. This can also cause aggression in the dog if they feel that it can't get out of the situation or feels like they can't protect themselves. If this is repeated over a period of time you could find that your dog attacks as this is the only way that your animal feels it can cope.
Written by: Hannah