If your puppy seems to be experiencing fear, which is sometimes a reaction to new things, these socialization training tips will help. When something, or someone, brings something new into a puppy's experience the fear reaction may be expressed.
One of the most common misconceptions about the best way to respond to fear is to express a comforting behavior. We might think it would be helpful to use comforting words or gestures when our dog is showing signs of fear. After all we would of course comfort a child when they are fearful. But, with dogs, the comforting response will give us more of the same behavior. He will believe his fear is the response we want.
Because we are giving positive reinforcement of the fear, by comforting, we are essentially telling our dog they are justified to be fearful. The basic problem with this is over time the fearful response may escalate into aggression as he grows up and is conflicted with fear and self-confidence. We can save him a lot of trouble in the future by changing our response to him as soon as possible.
Guide To Fear Puppy Training Goal and the Approach
When a puppy expresses fear, want to assist him in development of self-confidence, develop trust in our guidance, and to be comfortable expressing the behaviors we want. So, rather than comfort during the signs of fear, we will praise him when he begins to move toward the feared new experience, new thing, or new person.
The process may take time, as he is gradually moving a bit closer each time, as he tests our instruction against his hesitancy and emotion. We would not push for quick change, as this may give him a sense of distrust for our guidance. Instead we will be patient and praise every step toward approach. This gives him a chance to develop a trust for us as well as discover there is nothing to fear in new experiences.
Guide To Fear Puppy Training Doorway Fear Example
One example might be when a puppy is fearful of going through a doorway. He may feel fearful when he is near the doorway, unsure of what to expect, he may choose to avoid going in or out when you are encouraging him to go with you.
- ~First show him it is safe to walk through the doorway by going in and out the door yourself. Encourage him to go with you.
- ~Each time he gets a little bit closer to the doorway praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this a few times a day at the same time you are going to take him for a walk or go to play outside (for example).
- ~Then when he has moved past his fear, and has gone all the way through the doorway, the result is an enjoyable experience he can look forward to moving forward.
We aren't going to force or push him to move past his fear. We aren't going to comfort his fear (by giving him any response when he is fearful). Our main efforts are going to focus on the goal by using positive reinforcement each time he steps closer to the doorway.
Give him encouragement, praise and incentive (a treat) to move past his fears. Be patient, the process may take time, when he eventually realizes it is safe he will begin to go through the doorway each time you call him to.
Guide To Fear Puppy Training Self Confidence and Trust
We want him to be self-confident and to develop a trust of our guidance at the same time. We want to effectively communicate positive reinforcement of every behavior we want. When fears are misplaced, in other words there is nothing to fear, we can help him to overcome the fear with patience and persistent guidance. We will be developing a trust relationship with him and respecting the way he needs to overcome the fear as well.
Puppy Training Series