Walking is a prerequisite for keeping all breeds of dogs: from St. Bernards to Yorkshire terriers. For a pet, this is an opportunity to play in the fresh air, throw out the accumulated energy, communicate with other animals, and just have a good time. But sometimes it also happens that the puppy refuses to cross the threshold of the apartment. Or, to the surprise of the owner, already an adult dog is afraid to go outside. How to deal with this fear?
Fear, both in humans and in animals, is the body’s response to a certain stimulus. It is not difficult to notice that the dog is afraid of something: its tail is tucked in, its paws are bent, its body trembles, its ears are tucked in, the pet constantly looks around and tries to hide in a secluded place – all this indicates a problem. You need to start the fight with fear by establishing the cause of its appearance.
The pet can be afraid of everything: from car headlights and traffic lights to rustling garbage bags and passing cyclists. There are even situations when the dog is afraid to walk on the street at night, but quite calmly does it during the day. The owner’s job is to understand what exactly scares the pet.
Reasons for Fear of Going Out
Negative experience. Very often, fear is associated with a sad experience. For example, a dog was hit by a car or hit hard by a passer-by. This is most often encountered by animal owners from shelters.
Lack of socialization. Insufficient or absent socialization can also be the reason for the fear of the street. If the owner did not go outside with the pet, did not introduce it to the outside world, the dog is unlikely to be free to go for a walk.
Weather. Dogs, like humans, love comfortable weather for walking. Some pets, for example, will prefer to wait out the rain in the apartment, others will not stick their noses out in the heat.
Health problems. The variant of the pet’s illness cannot be ruled out. This can be a pain in the musculoskeletal system, impairment of hearing, vision, or, for example, smell. In this case, on the street, the dog may feel especially uncomfortable, not safe.
Weak nervous system It also happens that a pet has a weak nervous system. Therefore, he reacts too sharply to extraneous noises, smells, and situations that are new to him.
If your dog doesn’t want to go out because he doesn’t like the weather, the solution is simple – postpone the walk. If the problem is deeper and the dog is afraid of the street due to lack of socialization or negative experience, then most likely the help of a specialist zoopsychologist will be needed. Especially when it comes to an adult dog. The owner is unlikely to be able to work through the injury on his own, and aggravating the situation is as easy as shelling pears.
Counterconditioning can help cope with isolated fears, such as fear of cars, traffic lights, or loud noises.
How Can You Help Your Dog Overcome Fear?
When the dog is in a panic state, it hides behind you, pulls the leash towards the house, in no case should you caress, stroke and lisp with it. For the animal, these signals are an affirmation of behavior, not a consolation.
Try to distract your pet from what is happening. This can be done with a treat or a game. If your dog responds better to food, it is preferable to give a soft treat rather than a chewy one. For entertainment, take your favorite toys for a walk.
When the dog begins to move independently, dares to go forward, praise him. This is where positive reinforcement is needed.
Do not be nervous, do not yell at the dog, be as relaxed and calm as possible. You are the leader of the pack who keeps the situation under control. Show your pet that there is no danger and no reason to worry.
When your pet is nervous, do not try to get him to execute commands. Try to attract attention by using only the pet’s name.
Patience and perseverance are the most important things in the fight against the fears of the dog. As a rule, this process takes more than one day, and its success largely depends on the owner himself, his mood, and his willingness to come to the aid of his pet.