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Tuesday Training Byte:Fearful Dogs

There are several fear stages that puppies go through, with the last one occurring around 15-17 months. Careful socialization during the formative periods is a step in the right direction. But sometimes a pup begins behavior that you are not sure how or why it started. If a friend comes over and your dog runs away or tries to hide, this is a clear indicator that your dog is timid or fearful. Here is the mistake that many owners make when this behavior happens: They pick up and hold their pup, or pet it and comfort it saying, "What's the matter? It's okay". The owner's response actually rewards the shying away, and increases the likelihood that the dog will repeat that behavior. Inadvertently rewarding the unwanted behavior is a common mistake. Here are some suggestions on what to do instead. Have a crate or dog bed set up out of the main traffic flow where the dog can seek solace, but not escape the room (close off doorways with a baby gate, etc.). Ignore the dog so that you are not coddling/rewarding that shy behavior. Another method I like to use is letting the pup drag in lightweight 4-5 ft. leash when inside and under supervision. Again, while ignoring the dog, just hold the leash so the dog cannot escape or retreat. Make sure the visitor does not try to engage with the pup, but rather ignore the pup. After a few moments, the pup will figure out on its own, that no harm is coming and it should begin to settle down. The pup may eventually want to go and sniff or investigate your visitor. That is fine, but your guest should not try to reach out and pet the dog. Just a simple "Hi Puppy!" said in a happy and calm tone is enough. Smile at the dog then look away again. Whether at home or in public, do not permit any forced interactions with your pup. The fear may result in a bite.

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