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Tuesday Training Byte: Fear

Did you know that pups go through various fear stages? The first one occurs around 9 weeks of age. For this reason, some breeders prefer to have their pups go to their new homes at age 10 weeks. Even if pups go through this period with little issue, be aware that around 17 weeks to 7 months is another common fear period. Another fear period for some is shortly before a year and a half of age. What can you do about it? The best way to help your pup navigate these difficult times is building that bond and trust. While it is a good idea to try to avoid situations that could severely frighten or traumatize your pup, sometimes something unexpected happens that we have no control over. Working with your pup providing positive reinforcement every time the dog looks at you or chooses to come over to you will increase its trust and bond. Another game you can play that will build the trust is creating a safe zone with you. Sit in a chair or on a bench of sorts. Sitting far enough forward will create a little den for your pup in the space between the back of your calves and whatever you are sitting on at the time. This can work with most dogs with the exception of giant breeds. You can do this sitting on the floor or ground as well. Begin by making a game out of it using a food lure to coax the pup into position. Talk to the pup in a soothing tone while feeding some tasty morsels. Practicing this in various settings for increasingly longer periods will help your pup feel protected and safe. In your home having a crate open for your dog that has a cover over it you may find that your dog goes in the crate on its own when it wants dome time in its little den.

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