Does any of that sound familiar? They are all pieces of a body’s reaction to stress and fear. They happened to be my reaction driving on mountain roads this summer. I couldn’t control my reaction; it popped up out of nowhere, probably as a result of a latent memory from an automobile accident years ago. It was also a learned reaction from a family member I traveled those same roads, even worse condition, many years prior. She instilled that type of response in me from fast driving on slick, narrow mountain roads where cars could barely pass by in each direction without fear of drop several hundred feet off the side of the road. I saw too many movies, like The Other Side of the Mountain (yes...that also thwarted my desire to snow ski). I was exhibiting a learned fear response.
This is the same type of thing that happens with fearful dogs. They have been in a situation where they witnessed other dogs freaking out to perceived or actual stressors. They were left to their own device to deal with the situation and rely on their instincts to guide their response, fight or flight. They also have learned that if they bark, snap and lunge at an approaching threat (think bike, skateboarder, another dog, a loud truck, etc.) those scary things usually go away and leave them alone, well, most sane people would back away and leave a snarling dog alone anyway. That is what the dog wants, you to go away, far away from him. To not be bothered by you. Conversely, he might just coward back or run like hell to escape the pressure he is feeling.
If you are looking for Dog Training help in the St. Petersburg, Clearwater area, WE CAN HELP. Contact us now! (941) 216 5901
In the moments of my fear reaction, I had to stop and try to think logically and work myself through it...is the threat a real threat that could actually hurt me or am I over reacting? What can I do to make the situation easier to deal with? How can I make myself experience more appropriate feelings? How do all these people make this journey everyday successfully? I could go back to my resort and stay in my room my whole vacation, even though the paddle trip I want to go on is on the other side of those scary switchbacks. But that is no fun. I did not drive this far to stay in my hotel room for 7 days. I look for alternate routes, I drive as much of it as I can then turn the keys over to my husband. We keep going to our destination activity, as a team, helping me cope and deal with the seemingly irrational fear of going over the side of the mountain. I ride in silence working through my dilemma. Teamwork helps be successful in a lot of situations!
If your dog is fearful and exhibits similar symptoms, do you stop and retreat and take him home or do you coax him and encourage him to work through it, slowly and surely, to get to the fun stuff? Did you become a 4am or midnight walker so you and your dog avoid the stuff that scares him, or do you proceed with your plan and then help him get “unstuck” when he freezes in that fearful state and provide guidance for proper reactions? What do you do to help increase his confidence for future walks and encounters?
The next time your dog, or you, is fearful or resistant, I challenge you to study the response until you understand what it is due to and mull it over to determine how you can conquer it. How can you build the confidence and self assurance in your dog so he does not have to stay locked up in the fear and uncertainty that prevents the fun stuff from happening?
If you need help with your dog, reach out to us at K9 Rules Training Camp (941) 216 5901 or follow-us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/K9RTC to see our weekly interactions with dog in our dog training and doggie day camp (day care).