Fears of People, Places, and Noises
Dogs can be frightened or phobic of people,
places, noises and objects. Common noise phobias are to
thunder, fireworks, hot air balloons, trash trucks or construction
equipment. We’ve also seen dogs that are afraid of
outside air conditioning compressors, and various indoor
appliances, including the ‘beep’ from the microwave
and smoke alarms.
If your Fido is afraid of people, the most common reason
is because he isn’t well socialized. Poorly socialized
dogs didn’t have the chance to have pleasant experiences
with all different types of people during puppy hood. A
lack of socialization can also contribute to noise phobias
and generalized fears of anything new and different.
Your dog needn’t have had a traumatic experience
with something to become frightened of it. Just because
your dog is afraid of certain people, don’t jump
to the conclusion that he was abused before you got him.
Poor socialization is more likely the cause. Dogs seem
more likely to be afraid of men then women, for reasons
not entirely understood. In general, men appear more intimidating
just because they are physically larger, speak in deeper
voices, and are usually less “delicate” or
gentle in their movements as compared to women.
Most dogs that are afraid of people can learn to be friendlier,
but some may never be social butterflies who are at ease
with everyone. Some fearful dogs are also defensive, meaning
they are threatening
or aggressive to familiar or unfamiliar people as well.
If your dog has snapped at or bitten someone we recommend
seeking help from a qualified behavior consultant immediately,
preferably a certified applied or veterinary behaviorist.
Speak first with your veterinarian so potential medical
problems for aggression can be evaluated.
Some dogs are more prone to fearful behavior than others.
Although fearful behaviors aren’t inherited, a dog’s
genetic makeup can result in a tendency, or lower threshold,
for fear related problems.
Almost all fearful behavior problems require counter
conditioning and desensitization techniques to resolve.
These procedures expose your dog to softer, quieter, or
more tolerable versions of whatever he is afraid of while
pairing these events with something overwhelmingly enjoyable
for your dog. Usually, this is an irresistible tidbit,
or perhaps a toy your Fido is fanatic about.
It’s vital that the behavior modification techniques
be used correctly, and precisely, otherwise they either
won’t work or can make the problem worse.
For noise phobias such as fireworks, gunshots, etc.,
the sounds are difficult to re-create with the necessary
varying degrees of intensity. You may need to use a specially
made audio CD of the specific sound. See the product links
below for ordering information. Not all dogs react to a
recording in the same way they do the “real noise”,
but in many cases these recordings can be extremely helpful.
PRODUCTS FROM HELPING FIDO THAT
WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND, PREVENT AND RESOLVE FEARFUL
Whether you work with a professional or take the “do-it-yourself” route,
our audio CD on Using
Counter Conditioning and Desensitization Techniques Effectively is what you need to help you use these procedures correctly.
If your Fido is afraid of noises, an audio CD of thunderstorms,
fireworks, or other sounds may be useful with the counter
conditioning and desensitization procedures. Helping Fido
has a variety CDS specially created for use with noise
sensitive dogs. These include recorded noises of Thunderstorms,
Fireworks, Guns, Car
trips, Children, Dogs, Cars
and Trucks, Kitchens
and Vacuums and Flight.
We even have a special one for dogs bothered by sounds
from babies. We recommend using this product in
conjunction with our complete program on Helping
Fido Welcome Your New Baby.
While particularly good for dogs that don’t travel well in the car
or are fearful at the veterinary clinic or grooming salon, try the Calming
Cap™ to partially block your dog’s vision of whatever she sees
that triggers her fear, whether it be people, other animals, or appliances
such as the vacuum cleaner
We also recommend the booklet The
Cautious Canine by Dr. Patricia McConnell.