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Who Spooked Sparky?

July 4, 2016 | By: Judith

Who Spooked Sparky?

This past weekend I attended a doggy play date with my girlfriend Sally and her new pup Sparky. Sparky is this adorable little schnauzer with black ears and big brown eyes. Saturday, was another gorgeous summer day and we all met at a local park and puppy splash pad near my house. My dog Chebe was so excited to visit with a new friend but after a few moment of greeting each other I observed that Sparky seemed noticeably frightened, timid and afraid.
Sally assured me that Sparky was fine and that he would get over the initial fear and I just watched from the sidelines. As the afternoon went on various people came by to coo at our beautiful pups and each time Sparky reacted, hiding behind Sally, shaking and whining.
He was spooked!
We went home immediately after and as I sat down at my computer with Chebe on my lap I started to wonder… who or what spooked Sparky?
Dogs can become fearful of people because of poor handling and socialization during the first few months of life. This can also be caused by previous unpleasant experiences with people, medical problems, or genetics. No matter what the cost - the ultimate goal is to teach your dog to be relaxed around people and to enjoy their company.
So want can we do?

Positive experiences the ultimate goal for any pet owner.

Controlling Social Situations

It is suggested by many pet trainers to instruct that new visitors to your home or with your pet, to take it slow. Try to make yourself less threatening by squatting down, avoiding direct eye contact, and keeping your hands by your sides. Just pause. A gentle and quiet tone of voice and slow body movements are also very important.
When going on walks it is common to bump into strangers and their dogs. Too much tension on the leash or holding your pet too tightly can likely make them more nervous. so you want to make sure you have enough control and keep enough distance between your pet and unfamiliar people. This will ensure your pet’s safety and help keep your dog calm at all times.
Your dog often takes cues from you, so if you are nervous or anxious you should avoid stressful situations until you're comfortable.

Help Them Out

It has been found very successful in helping lessen your pet’s anxiety to repeatedly associate something positive with the presence of people. Cheese loves dried meat. This is his special treat that helps him warm up to people. We only use this special treat when we are going to meet someone new. Remember, by selected treats or small pieces of food that are extra delicious- like freeze-dried liver, chicken meat, or cheese, you will really enhance the connection between food and overcoming fear.

Prevent the fear

In most cases, dogs will not become fearful if they have ample opportunities to socialize with people in the first few months of life. It is also important to frequently handle them in a gentle, soothing manner, and raise them without harsh techniques or physical punishments. There is never a right moment to hit your dog.
Try a new puppy / doggy class, this is a great way to introduce your dog to many different types of people and other dogs in a controlled environment.

What not to do

  • Try not to force your puppy into social situations, learning to feel comfortable with people is a gradual process and should not be rushed.
  • Do not force your dog to be pet and reached for by strangers - even though they may let people pet them it does not mean they enjoy it.
  • During the initial stages of training, try to keep your puppy away from situations that make them feel anxious or scared. For example: firework celebrations, very crowded places, parties.
  • If you have a new puppy or anxious animal take care this Summer to not expose them overly to loud fireworks or large celebrations. Remember, dogs cannot wear headphones or ask for time outs when they are stressed or suffering from anxiety.

    Judith