Help your child overcome fear of dogs


My dog ​​is afraid of other dogs: what can I do?

If instead of rejoicing in the presence of another dog, your dog beats in retreat with the ears down and the tail between the legs, pay attention, because he is telling you that his emotion is not precisely of joy. We will explain the reasons for their fears and give some advice to fight them.

What is the cause?

It is difficult to find the origin of this fear.

It may be due to some fright, to a scene he has seen on TV in which a dog was attacking someone or being something instilled by the parents.

In any case, at this age the basic form of learning is still imitation, so the more natural you show to these animals, the better you will avoid automating reactions such as crossing the sidewalk.

How to act

If your child shows fear of dogs, follow these guidelines:

- Never ridicule him, ignore him or laugh at him. Nor scold him as he will feel misunderstood.

- Do not avoid the dog but do not force him to approach him. You can try successive approaches to avoid having to cross the sidewalk, always progressively, safely and without pressure.

- Teach him films starring friendly dogs, such as "The 101 Dalmatians," "The Lady and the Tramp" or "Beethoven." You can also turn to documentaries or read stories like "A problem with legs," by M. Terzi, Edit. Edelvives, € 8.50.

- Encourage respect for animals and avoid expressions like "don't come near, bite you".


Finally, so that your child overcomes his fear, try to get him to pet a dog and verify that nothing happens. Teach him how to approach him:

- Choose a peaceful dog and talk to the owner before anything else.

- Prevents the child from approaching directly or the dog will be scared. Show him how you caress him and explain that he can touch the spine, scratch his neck. but never pull the tail (it would hurt him and the dog would bite him).

- If you get scared or don't want to touch it, don't force it. There will be another time to try again.


If your child's fear of dogs is becoming a phobia so intense that it affects him on a day-to-day basis (he cries and shouts if he sees someone from afar, he doesn't want you to go through any park.), If he produces a Anxiety problem and if it is difficult to control, consider that it is time to go to a psychologist.

This professional will tell you how you can help the child overcome his fear.

Children and pets

Some books that can help you improve your child's relationship with dogs are the following:

- “Children need pets”, by D. Krowatschek, Edit. Platform, € 16. Teach the values ​​found in animals and how the little one can learn from them.

- “Children and pets: yes, but,” by Carnosa and Minguell., Edit. Debate, € 13.99. It exposes the risks and benefits of living with these animals and explains the parameters of behavior that must be established between children, adults and different animals.

How and why dogs feel fear

The fear in the dog can trigger it, mainly, other animals, noises, objects or people. It manifests itself in various ways. For example:

  • Hides
  • It barks, or even attacks
  • It stays still
  • It is submissive

Further, a dog feels fear for different reasons:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Poor socialization
  • Different traumatic experiences
  • Have s>If your dog is too fearful, you should know that you have different tools to help him cope with his fears.

Tips to help your dog overcome fears

Keep in mind the following tips to apply when your dog is invaded by fear.

  • Do not caress or hug him. While it will cost you to avoid showing a protective attitude when your four-legged friend suffers an episode of fear, trying to reassure him in this way will only reinforce the behavior of fear. You think you are helping him. But it is the other way around. You are only contributing to make the situation worse.
  • Do not scold or punish him. The only thing you will achieve is to aggravate the problem.
  • Don't try to get him out of the place where he hid. You will only add anguish to a stressful circumstance.

Everything you need to know about how to train a puppy

How to take fear away from a dog? If you have a dog with fear you will surely have asked yourself this question multiple times. We know that having a scared dog is not easy, since seeing our partner's bad times also makes us have a bad time.

With today's post we want to give answers to your questions about fear.

What is fear? What causes it? How to detect it? How to remove fear? These are some of the issues we will solve today.

What is fear?

Fear is an emotional response. which appears when the dog faces a stimulus or a threatening situation (The clear example of these is the relationship between dogs and firecrackers).

Fear is a adaptive response and supposes a survival mechanism. Without the emotion of fear, animals would not avoid dangers, so they would die.

It is important to differentiate between the concepts of fear and phobia. A phobia is a response of fear disproportionate in duration and / or intensity in front of a stimulus that the dog perceives as threatening. The phobia is NOT adaptive and greatly limits the dog's ability to manage the threatening situation.

Why is my dog ​​afraid?

The problem of a dog with fear may have a multifactorial origin. Sometimes it will be a single cause that has caused our partner to be a dog with fear or sometimes it is a combination of multiple causes. Then, we expose youthe most influential factors about fear:

Fear is an inheritable characteristic. Just as physical characteristics are inherited, such as the type of mantle and the color of the eyes, there are certain temperament traits that are also inherited.

Fear is a characteristic with high heritability. This means that, from a fearful mother, puppies will have a 50% chance of being also fearful dogs.

For this reason, It is very important that a dog with fear is not used to breed, your puppies will have many possibilities to carry this feature in their DNA.

Poor socialization.

The socialization period is the stage of development that goes from 3 weeks of age (when the dog already has all its functional senses), until about 3 or 4 months.

This period is characterized by The puppy does not yet have fully functional brain structures that are responsible for the fear response. At 3 or 4 months these structures are already functional and the fear response is similar to what the dog will have when he is an adult.

During the socialization stage, the dog will become more easily accustomed to all those stimuli that are presented. During this period we must introduce the puppy to different people, dogs, noises, objects, surfaces, etc.

Definitely, everything that the dog will have to relate to as an adult.

If, on the contrary, the puppy spends its first months isolated, it will be more likely that when we go out to the real world we will find that we have a dog with fear.

Traumatic experiences.

Traumatic experiences can also make our dog develop fear. For example, we might have a well-socialized dog, which often plays with other dogs, but one day it suffers a serious bite and thereafter has fear of dogs.

Dogs afraid of a traumatic experience have a better prognosis than those who are afraid because they have not been socialized or by genetic component.

Loud noises.

The noise that dogs are most afraid of is the firecrackers, followed by storms and the shots.

The high intensity of the noise, the low predictability and the fact of not being able to identify where the sound comes from are features that make the dog increasingly sensitive to these types of stimuli, so if it is not treated, it is likely that our dog is increasingly afraid.

People or other dogs.

Many dogs are insecure with people. When we see a dog with fear of people, we tend to think that it is a battered dog, but it is not always the case. Remember that the fact of not having related to unknown people during the period of socialization, or having fearful parents may also be the cause. In the case of dogs with fear of other dogs, the explanation is the same.

Unknown stimuli.

The neophobia is defined as the fear or phobia of new stimuli. It is a natural mechanism in animals. "If you don't know something, better be afraid”.

The dog is much less neophobic than its wolf ancestor. In addition, a dog with a rich stimulation in its period of socialization will be less neophobic than one with a poor stimulation.

How to detect fear?

It is important to attend to the communication of our dog to help you.

The most obvious and sure signs you can detect in a dog with fear are: Tail between the legs, ears back, shrunken body posture, tremors, attempts to escape or hide.

Other signs that can present a dog with fear and to which we must also be attentive:

  • Freezing (stand still).
  • Tachycardia (excessive rhythm of the lat> How to take away the fear of a dog? Treatment of fears.

Before considering how to take fear away from a dog you should know that, the cause, the stimuli to which you are afraid and the intensity of your responses will define the prognosis.

A dog with widespread fear for lack of socialization will have a much worse prognosis than a dog with fear of a single stimulus because one day he had a bad experience.

In the first case, your expectation should change, you should not ask yourself how to take fear away from a dog but how can you help you better manage your fears or decrease the time it takes to recover.

In the second case, although it is necessary to evaluate each specific case, maybe if you can ask yourself how to remove the fear of a dog.

We must say that a fearful dog will always tend to be a fearful dog and surely we can never expose it to all situations to which we would expose a dog that has no problem.

Talking about how to take fear away from a dog, like this in general, is somewhat complicated, so we are going to try to give you different tools so you can choose the ones that best suit your case:

Create reference and safety zones.

Create a home security zone to which our dog can come when he is afraid it is beneficial in many cases.

In the case of fear of loud noises, we can use a room in the house without windows or the one that is furthest from the outside. The use of a carrier helps dogs better manage frightening stimuli.

The reduced space and the burrowing effect created by the carrier helps them to be calmer. The carrier can also be useful for a dog with fear in the presence of strangers in the house.

Is important to make a proper protocol of habituation to the carrier before To really be a safety zone. We must never force our dog or good to first without a prior process.

In the street, the ideal is that we are “the area” of reference of our dog. Associate the appearance of the frightening stimulus to the call, so that when our dog gets scared he comes to us and prevents uncontrolled escapes with the dangers that this entails.

It is imperative that we respond to the behavior of coming and Let's get our dog out of the situation that scares him. If instead we ignore it or stay there, the dog will have to find other solutions.

Provide the dog with its own emotional management tools.

Giving the dog emotional management tools will reduce fear.

Let's give an example: a dog presents fear responses when an unknown person is less than 4 meters away. We teach our dog that when someone passes too close, he can surround us from behind and place himself on the other side and that with that the person will leave.

When our dog knows what to do when he is afraid and that that behavior will give him the result he expects, you will feel safer in shorter distances, because you will be aware that you have a useful tool.

Systematic desensitization and classic counterconditioning.

Systematic desensitization is the dog's exposure to the stimulus it gives fear in an intensity and duration that do not cause the fear response to progressively increase these criteria and increase the tolerance of the dog to the stimulus.

A clear example of the use of this technique can be with A dog afraid to travel by car. Initially the dog would be taught to get in and out of the car until this is no problem for him.

Then he would be asked to stay a few minutes inside with the car stopped. The next criterion could be to start the engine, but without moving the car and so on, raising criteria when the dog has exceeded the previous ones.

The classic counterconditioning is another technique used in behavior modification that it is based on the presentation of the frightening stimulus associated with an appetizing stimulus, such as food or game.

Theory says that the dog establishes a new association in which the negative stimulus it starts to trigger the response that produces the appetizing stimulus to which we have associated it.

The practice states that the counterconditioning by itself it is not very useful and the mechanism by which the dog changes its perception of the frightening stimulus is not precisely because it is associated with food, but because he sees that this stimulus does not really harm him or because he is aware that he has tools to solve the situation.

Other products.

There are other non-pharmacological products that can also help the treatment of fear, such as nutraceuticals and pheromones.

Fear problems are not easy to treat, so we recommend that before attempting to apply the strategies proposed on your own, consult a professional so that he can advise you.

In IzeKan we are at your disposal if you wish contact us to tell us your particular case.

Tips to help your dog not be afraid of other dogs

A problem that has taken a long time to develop cannot be solved overnight.

That your dog enjoys the company and the complicity of other dogs is an objective that requires technique, patience and a gradual period of adaptation. Without hurry, but without pause, it is possible to reach it.

Let's see some procedures that will help you in the attempt:

  • Desensitization

It is a technique that, applied to fearful dogs, gives very good results, although a large dose of patience and affection is required.

Desensitizing means continuing with walks and exits to the park or the mountain, where our dog will meet the object of his fears. When this happens, we will maintain the comfort distance and we will gradually shorten it. Every time we get a little closer and our dog feels calm, we will congratulate him, and so on until he can dissipate all his fears.

Another option is to choose places frequented by quiet dogs to raise the bar of difficulty with other more impetuous dogs.

  • Counter-conditioning

Counter-conditioning or inverse conditioning is a technique designed to modify unwanted behavior in dogs. It consists in associating what is scary to the dog with something pleasant for him.

With this technique, what is intended is that your dog gradually associates the disturbing situations with gratifying experiences, an example would be to play with your dog or give him a prize at the moment when the other dogs approach, the formula: dogs nearby + games or treats = positive experience, it is very effective.

Whatever the method, the essential thing is to carry it out, in a progressive way, and adapting it to the dog's responses, with affection and without punishment, since these would only aggravate the problem.

We hope your dog enjoys with other colleagues and has a "scary" time, in the best sense of the expression!

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How to proceed before a fearful dog

The best thing you can do to help your dog overcome fears is to ignore his attitude and show peace of mind.. You should try to convey to your hairy that nothing serious happens. Dogs can perceive very well what you feel. So you must be calm, safe and confident.

Try also to blur your fear. A meal that you fancy can sometimes work miracles. If you manage to forget his fears when you offer him a treat, reward him also with caresses.

Also, make sure your life is as routine as possible, so that you maintain your emotional balance. Don't alter it with surprise activities as long as you can't leave your fears behind.

Ways to help your dog overcome his fears

There are some procedures that you can put into practice if you want to help your hairy overcome his fears. Of course, you must arm yourself with a lot of time and a lot of patience to get results.

First, you should try to get your pet used to the stimulus that triggers his fear. For example, you can record the sounds that scare you and make them listen at low volume so that you get used to them. Then, you should increase the volume very gradually.

Too, you can ask a friend to have a quiet dog to collaborate so that your furry can tolerate the presence of another animal. And, as fear disappears, the distances between them can be reduced.

When you have the real conviction that the fear of your dog is in retreat, you can try to associate the stimulus that causes it with something positive. Then, you expose it to the sound or the situation that frightens it and, at the same time, you reward it with caresses and treats.

Chihuahuas are more aggressive than pit bulls

Although we find it hard to believe, there is a phobia towards dogs, an extreme fear that is difficult to overcome and that is identified when a person feels a strong panic only when this animal passes through the front, along with other symptoms such as tachycardia, sweating, feeling angry, trembling, shortness of breath or nausea.

Unfortunately it is a phobia that grows throughout the world because more and more people come into public light. dog attacks on people. However, the most frequent causes for this irrational fear have to do with traumatic experiences that were lived at a very early age.

Although, another means of acquiring this phobia, according to the canine psychologist and educator Jesús Gutiérrez cited in the Marie Claire portal, is imitation transmission. On numerous occasions, the irrational fears that parents have are transmitted to their children, either out of their own fear or through simple comments like "don't come near, bite you".

How to know that it really is a phobia?

Phobias must meet the following characteristics to be considered as such:

  • Existence of disproportionate fear. That is, fear is clearly superior to what one would expect given the situation. It is not an adaptive fear. This feature, however, may be absent in children.
  • Fear leads to avoidance of the situation tem>See also: The benefits of sleeping with your dog

Possible treatments for cinophobia

It is worth clarifying that phobias do not disappear overnight and that these fears interfere with your living together, so must be treated with a specialist Indicate according to a case evaluation, which is the best alternative. In 4 legs We present some of them for you to take into account.

  1. Gradual Exposure Therapy

According to the specialized Canine Trainer portal, exposure to phobic stimulation is the common ingredient of techniques such as systematic desensitization, flooding or graduated exposure. You can work with live exhibition (directly with real dogs) or with a exposure to images dog's. This process should be gradual and not impose the presence of this companion animal since the first session.

  1. Relaxation techniques

This technique can be combined with the first one in which the exercises of progressive muscle relaxation, breathing, yoga or meditation can be very useful to control anxiety in a timely manner when faced with dogs.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In general, these programs are aimed at changing thought patterns, insisting on the difference between realistic and unrealistic thoughts or the difference between possible and probable. In addition, techniques aimed at increasing patient information about their disorder. It is about presenting the patient with the maximum relevant information related to the phobic stimulus.

    Exposure through real> With the advancement of technology, this could be a very successful option, because through controlled images different situations are exposed in which the patient and the dog must interact. The advantage is that here you manipulate all the behavior of the can, so there will be no surprises like clashes with another.

Use professional help if your dog's fear does not go away

If, despite your efforts, the fear persists, it is time for the veterinarian to intervene or refer you to a specialist in animal behavior.

Treatments may include the prescription of some type of medication, the dose of which must be strictly controlled by the professional. To avoid side effects. Remember that you should never medicate your pet on your own. You can expose it to irreversible damage.

Too The veterinarian can recommend the use of pheromones, to look for a calming effect like that exerted by mothers on their puppies.

Do not lose hope, that with patience and persistence you will help your dog overcome his fears. And, surely sooner rather than later, you will get your pet to have a happy, balanced and fear-free life.