Fearful dogs pose a variety of behavioral challenges – sometimes even for professional dog trainers.
Dogs can become fearful for a number of reasons but, whatever the origin of the behavior may be, understanding what makes your pet behave the way he does can go a long way toward helping him overcome his challenges.
But what about adding a second dog to your household? Although some anecdotal evidence supports this approach, this isn’t your only option for helping your pet. Instead, pet owners can – and should – seek help from a professional dog trainer to correct fear-related behavior patterns.
How Does a Dog Become Fearful?
One of the most common ways that dogs become fearful is having a bad experience during one of the two formative fear imprint periods they experience.
The first fear imprint period usually occurs around eight to ten weeks of age. The second can occur when your pet is anywhere from six to 14 months, depending on the breed. These periods mark substantial cognitive and emotional growth and development for your pet. If he experiences a traumatic experience during this time, it could lead to the development of fearfulness.
Suffering abuse earlier in life can also cause this behavior, which is why many rescue dogs exhibit fearfulness. Sometimes, however, dogs can become fearful for no apparent reason.
Understanding the Behavior of a Fearful Dog
The first step to correcting fearfulness is understanding how this behavior can manifest.
As you might guess, some dogs exhibit their fear by cowering or running away from strangers, other dogs or even people they’re familiar with. But fearfulness is not always so obvious.
Instead of cowering, your pet may become territorial or defensive of resources, including his food, toys, personal space or even members of the household. He may bark aggressively or even lunge and retreat.
It can be easy to mistake these behaviors for other problems, so it’s always good to enlist the help of a dog training professional to evaluate the problem.
Should You Add Another Dog to Your Household to Help a Fearful Pup?
If you research this topic online, you’ll find many examples of pet owners helping a fearful pup by adding a second dog to the household. In some cases, this can be beneficial. In many other examples, however, it can be a recipe for disaster.
In a perfect world, Fearful Fido will bond with Fearless Fifi and, together, they’ll go confidently forward through life. But it’s more likely that introducing Fifi to your household will cause Fido’s fearfulness to elevate, potentially resulting in someone – human or canine – getting hurt.
Before you go out and purchase or adopt another pet, contact the dog training experts at Innovative K9 Academy in Salt Lake City. Our trainers have extensive education and experience in handling this and other canine behavioral problems. Our individual and group training classes are beneficial for teaching your pet obedience and basic commands. For more intense problems such as this, we recommend our puppy and dog bootcamp programs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you address the problem of a fearful dog.