Saturday, August 22, 2009

When Your Dog is Fearful

Frisbee Dogs

The one thing all three of these dogs have in common is the fact they were very fearful when they came to their new home. Fancy, the mastiff is extremely fearful of strangers. Some of you may remember the post I wrote called Understanding Fancy. Fancy for some reason with me always felt threatened. I could be 10 feet away from her and she would still feel the need to bark at me. Being good with dogs normally, I did some research so I would know what to do in the future.

One of the best ways to overcome a fearful dog that likes to bark at you is to ignore them. If you pretend they are not in the room, they will not feel as threatened. (Come to think of it, when I was working in the kitchen, minding my own business, that's when Fancy was really quiet.)

Another thing is don't make any attempt to pet the dog. It's well intentioned sure but the dog thinks your wanting to reach out an hurt him or her. With the right amount of patience, the dog will come around on its own. Some will be more fearful than others. It could be that they came from an abused or neglectful household, or in Fancy's case, it's an inherent trait of the breed. Mastiffs in general, tend to be wary of strangers.

Finally, if you're an owner, it helps to train your dog to give them a job. The two dogs you see in the other picture, were taught how to play the game fetch by his owner. Before they had learned the frisbee game, they were so terrified, they couldn't get out of their crate. Now, that they have their job,--playing frisbee--, they get so excited when they see one of those flying discs. They know they have a job to do, and are ready to do it. All dogs can learn how to play fetch, but some you will have to work on it more than others.

When I play with Cookie, I can throw the toy down the hall and she'll be right after it. With Gigi, she likes to be teased a little and after that, I'll throw the toy. Gigi will wait a moment, and then go chasing after it.

If your dog is into fetch no matter what you do, then there are other tasks that can be taught. For example, if you have a big dog and you're taking it on a walk or taking it hiking, you can put a doggie backpack on the dog. Put some water bottles or suntan lotion and your dog's demeanor will change. If you have a dog like an Alaskan Malamute, you can get it in the habit of pulling a sled in the winter or a wagon in the summer.

I will be curious to see what will happen the next time I'm around Fancy. If any of you have any tips that helped you, please share by leaving a comment. Hope you all are enjoying the weekend! Thanks for stopping in.

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