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Behaviour & Training

Puppy Phobias & Fears

Some puppies bound through puppyhood and adolescence full of confidence and not fazed by anything. It's also quite common for puppies to go through fear periods at certain stages of their development, and if carefully managed, these puppies will grow out of it.However, it must be acknowledged that due to their genetic make-up, some puppies will always lack confidence.

When a puppy is startled or frightened he may display behaviours such as running and hiding, barking, crying or howling. It is important for you to recognize what has frightened him in order for you to be able to help him.

Many owners inadvertently encourage their dog to display fear by patting and verbally reassuring him when he is frightened. This reinforces that his fearful behaviour is OK.

If you find your puppy in a stressful situation, then in a very calm and quiet manner try and move the puppy to a safe distance from whatever frightened or startled him. We need to reward and encourage the confident behaviour and try to ignore the frightened behaviour.

Never force your puppy to face his fears by placing him too close to whatever concerns him.

The best way to avoid problems is to socialize your puppy by exposing him to as many different situations as possible when young.

There are some puppies and dogs that may need professional help for them to be able to live with their phobias. If you feel your puppy isn't progressing in overcoming his fears and phobias, then we would recommend you seek professional help as soon as possible.

Extract taken from Wonderdogs: Tricks & Training by Dr Katrina Warren & Kelly Gill, published by HarperCollins.

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