How to Create a Phobic Dog
So as with many of my “how to’s” some of these are a little tongue in cheek, after all who wants to create a phobic dog??
I just saw a video that has/had been posted on you tube from a “K9 Academy” that was doing “fireworks” training and I think I had a mini stroke watching it. You can look it up but I won’t do them the pleasure of posting the video for you and promoting anything with their name on it.
I am actually physically disgusted. In short there are probably a couple dozen (maybe a hair less) dogs and dog owners standing around. Their dogs are suppose to be doing a “down/stay” I assume; because the jack-wagon who I presume calls himself a dog trainer keeps telling the people if they don’t think their dog will be successful they can get closer.
As I watched the video I guess I was naïve enough to think that he wasn’t really going to light the fire crackers that close to the dogs. I mean who would do that?? And, what sane dog owner would allow their dog to be traumatized like that, much less pay for it??
But, NO like all the other visual horrors and things that people do it dogs I guess there was not a sane person in the group.
Not only does he light the “fireworks” within like 3 feet of the dogs; I can tell he has instructed the owners to decapitate their dogs with prong collars and leashes when they break ranks; because as the dogs try to run away (to save themselves) the owners violently yank and try to correct their dogs back into a down.
One dog actually breaks his prong collar and leash and runs away (smart dog) despite the horror of watching his owner drag him back toward the noise.
I am horrified, and I am pretty sure that 98% of those dogs are now extremely firework and noise phobic and probably will be for the rest of their lives.
Fireworks going off that close to you must truly feel like a war zone.
Trust me, this is not how police and military dogs are trained! This is horrific, despicable, and abusive.
I still can’t believe that this video didn’t end with the owners of the dogs beating the guy near to death…
Most people don’t want a phobic or fearful dog but the truth is; it really isn’t hard to create one because we think so differently from our canine counterparts.
Things that Create a Phobic Dog
- Never teaching a dog independence
- Carrying a dog everywhere (especially little dogs)
- Over bonding with your dog (for more on that click here)
- Coddling your dog when he has a fearful reaction
- Never taking your dog out of the house
- Not socializing puppies
- Acting scared or nervous in certain situations
- Thinking you need a super tough dog
Let’s Break that Down Shall We?
Independence is crucial to having a well-rounded self-confident dog. Just like independence is crucial to raising a socially competent child, it is also important to your dog
Carrying your dog everywhere and not allowing him to wander and conquer his environment makes him nervous and fearful. He only appears confident when he is in your presence and in your lap; and the idea of losing you or sharing makes him possessive and overly protective of you with other dogs and people.
This may seem like confidence but this is really a lack of it and his aggression is a way to help him feel better about his nervousness.
Imagine doing this with a 200 pound Rottweiler. Never letting him off your lap to explore his environment and when he gets nervous he races toward your lap or your arms. Pretty soon you have a 200 pound lap dog that is threatening everything that may take his safety net (you) away.
Dog’s need to develop their own independence so that they can learn to deal with the world on their own; this would not be a healthy way to treat a child and it is not a healthy way to raise a dog.
Over bonding and putting extreme emotional stress on your dog also does not help with his confidence and his ability to be independent.
Over bonding can also create a neurotic and fearful dog that is uncomfortable in his own skin, and for more on that and why it can be dangerous click here.
Coddling your dog is never good. Dogs aren’t like children with fur when it comes to this ideal.
When children are scared we hug them, talk sweetly to them and try and change their mindset. We can rationally speak with them about why their fears are not going to come true or are irrational.
We can’t do this with our dogs, so cooing and petting and holding only rewards their behavior and their flawed thinking.
If, say, your dog is fearful of people and you see him back up and try to run or begin shaking and you reach down and pet him, talk sweetly to him, or pick him up and put him in your lap you are essentially rewarding his fears and making him feel advocated in his fear that people are bad. He thinks by doing this that you agree.
Instead of coddling and cooing we need to show our dogs (within reason) that whatever they are afraid of is not going to hurt them.
I went outside to get my puppy the other day and it was raining HARD so I brought my umbrella. He had never seen an umbrella before so I saw his hackles raise, he growled and then he ran away.
I was surprised because he is a pretty confident puppy, but I also understand that fears are pretty normal in puppies. So instead saying “it’s okay” “it’s okay” I laughed, patted my leg and lowered the umbrella. Within seconds he was dive bombing and biting it… fear squelched!
But if I had quickly deflated it, ran in and hugged and loved on him… the next time he saw it he might very well have been worse!
This goes with the previous paragraph in so many ways. If you never take your dog or your puppy out of the house, he is probably going to develop fears.
Puppies especially go through stages where it is critical for them to get out and meet people and see as many “good” things as possible. The idea is not to flood or stress them with crazy things, like fireworks, jack hammers, or gun fire… the idea is to slowly build their confidence so when they are an adult they can deal with loud noises and strange things.
But, socialization is an ongoing need. You can socialize a puppy constantly until he is out of his puppy phase and then not take him out of the house for two years and you are likely to have a fearful dog on your hands!
Training and socialization is a constant when it comes to good dog ownership!
Acting Scared or Nervous in Certain Situations
This is another great way to create a phobic or fearful dog.
And, I have to admit sometimes this is easy to do and may have been unavoidable.
I was driving my girl and I to agility one night. I have the cutest little two seater car that I love that is very low to the ground and it was raining.
Fury doesn’t like riding in the car anyway; I mean she wants to go but she has gotten motion sick since she was little and doesn’t really enjoy the “ride”.
So when we hydroplaned and I found myself drifting into oncoming traffic, my heart stopped, I gasped and that is all it took to scare the proverbial “pants” off her.
Now whenever it rains in the car… she is looking for the smallest space to hide in; which is sad because she is so confident in every other area and I have never seen a fear arise in her.
Although this was a true gut and physical reaction that I couldn’t really help, be very careful about showing fears in front of your dog or you may create a phobia or even aggression.
I once had a client that I trained a service dog for; the dog was great and loved everyone until I placed her and her “mom” who was scared of men (little did I know) would gasp or scream when men approached.
I had to not only take the dog away, I had to drop her from the program and recondition her totally with men. She didn’t know why her former mom hated men, but she adopted her fear/anger toward them after she had been exposed to that behavior for a period of time.
So You Want a Tough Dog
You can’t scare a dog into acceptance.
You can’t light firecrackers under your dog’s tushy and expect to break a noise phobia.
You can’t take your future hunting dog out to the field and shoot a 40 caliber weapon right next to his head and expect him to “work it out”.
What if You Already have a Fearful or Phobic Dog?
Helping a dog with noise phobia can be hard work and for more on that click here.
Sensitizing and desensitizing a dog to something takes time and effort! For more on that click here.
And changing a phobia can be difficult if not impossible, for more on that click here.
How to deal with thunderstorm phobias click here.
Preparing your dog for gun fire click here.
Building your dog or your puppy’s confidence click here.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.