Common Fears in Dogs

Ginny was one of those dogs that grew to become fearful of everything after she was abused by a pet sitter. It got to the point where her own breath on a cold morning spooked her. Going out for walks, she’d almost crawl around every bush or car expecting something to jump out at her.

It became quite frustrating having this 130lb English Mastiff, terrified of everything in site. It was like tip toeing around, carefully planning outings or making sure the phone charger cable wasn’t too close to her. It didn’t matter how many times she was exposed to it, if by chance say the laundry basket was in a different spot she’d act terrified all over again.

Thankfully, even though dogs develop all kinds of different fears, they can be taught that those scary things are okay and learn to trust you in a situation and eventually those fears will diminish.

Common fears in dogs

  • thunderstorms
  • fireworks
  • veterinary offices
  • kids
  • men
  • strangers
  • riding in the car and
  • separation anxiety

Why do dogs develop these fears?

“Fear can come from two different sources, nature vs. nurture,”

The “nurture fear” develops through a pet’s environment and experiences, she said. This type of fear is usually easier to train through. Such as in Ginny’s circumstance, where the abuser caused her fear, which we eventually worked with her to rebuild her confidence.

“Natural fear,” on the other hand, is part of a dog’s DNA and can be linked to different breeds, she said. These kinds of fears can be more difficult to train through.

An example of natural fear in a dog would be how herding breeds tend to be high energy and prone to separation anxiety if they are placed in homes with owners who don’t allow the dogs to constructively vent their energy.

How to help a dog overcome her fear

Dogs often develop fears if they haven’t been exposed to them, or, in the case of thunderstorms or fireworks, they don’t like the loud noises. Most dog fears can be addressed and corrected but must be done in a calm safe manner.

What worked best for Ginny was repetitive positive exposure to her fears, which also meant building up her confidence. Praising her lots with love and treats during scary situations and keeping her focused on me versus whatever it was helped her learn and rebuild the trust that had been broken.

Somethings like her fear of men had to be worked on slowly in small increments, just allowing a man to speak to her and her not barking was a huge step. Or her allowing a man to even look at her without her diving between my legs. It took one incident with an abusive pet sitter, but over 3 years to allow a man to pet her.

One customer that frequently came into the pet store had a small dog who was rescued and was terrified of being touched. I shared with her these tips that worked for her, and hopefully gives you some ideas on the repetitive positive exposure method.

  • Work with your dog when she is already calm and quiet
  • With treats nearby, gently pet your dog’s head and body or areas she enjoys having touched.
  • As she remains relaxed, offer a small treat.
  • As you progress the touch to move toward areas she commonly resists, offer more treats as a distraction.
  • Keep training sessions really short, but repeat the process several times a day.

They key is to slowly, safely, and calmly reintroduce/introduce the dog to face their fear, not forcefully or aggressive as that puts more stress into the environment. Another important step is to keep the same tone in your voice, a pleasant non-cooing tone. If you coo ‘everythings okay, come on baby’ your dog is going to read your body language of your uncertainty and not trust the situation.

Does your dog have a fear of something?

How to Make Peanut Butter Free Pill Pockets for Dogs

Thankfully I am not allergic to peanuts, however any other nut I am (figure that one out). Peanut Free products are everywhere in the grocery stores now, almost all small kids snacks are “lunch box friendly” and even all the local elementary schools are banning peanuts. It didn’t dawn on me till a little while ago that those commerical pill pockets aren’t useful for families who are nut free, let alone the natural pill pocket recipe I posted a little while back. It also is not advantages to the dogs’ that are allergic to peanut butter, trust me there is a lot more than you think.


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3 Simple Checks for Dehydration in Dogs

Dog’s like us are sensitive to dehydration, their body weight is made up of over 90% of water. A decrease in just 10% of body fluids can cause the dog to become extremely ill. Dehydration occurs either because of a lack of water intake to replenish the fluid loss due to urinating and excessive drool, or because there is an increase in water loss due to illness or injury (excessive vomiting or diarrhea).

If you suspect your dog is suffering from the heat, but unsure if they are just overheated or dehydrated check for these. Continue reading

40 Fun Things to do this Summer with your Dog

Summer is almost here, and as the days get longer there’s more daylight to spend outside with your pets! Have you thought of how to make this the best summer? Always remember to play safe in the sun as dogs are prone to sun stroke too and watch for the symptoms.

Checkout this list of 40 fun activities to involve your whole family and your dog!

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3 Ingredient Frozen Banana Dog Treat

Ginny loved crunching on ice cubes, didn’t matter if it was the dead of winter or a sweltering hot day, she loves ice cubes. She’d panic when one would slide beneath the fridge out of her reach even. We always knew if she was starting to feel the summer heat we could give her a few ice cubes to cool down. George on the other hand, hates ice cubes. Has no idea why anyone in their right mind would want to put one in their mouth, it’s just water that’s been frozen…It’s slippery, slimy, and boring.

So one day I saw on TV this nifty dog-cicle maker, had cute little molds and a premade mixture that you just poured into the trays, let it freeze then fed to your dog. I thought about it some more, George loves Popsicle (wooden handle included..yikes). So why can’t I make a dog version?

Frozen Banana Dog Treat Continue reading