Socializing your dog with people around you, family and friends, is something you should be able to do. However, if your dog is afraid of people, he will be reluctant, afraid and even insecure when they approach him, whether he has seen those people before or not.
Site you are identifying with what you are reading, The first thing to tell you is that you should go to a specialist, it is who can best help you do a therapy with your dog. However, don't worry! In this article we tell you the possible Causes why your dog is afraid of people and some tips that will be key for you.
Remember that if your dog is a fearful, the change will not occur overnight. You will need a little extra patience.
My dog is afraid of people, why?
In dogs, fear usually appears at the end of the first stage of the socialization of our puppy. That is why it is It is essential to accustom our dog to different people, animals, objects and environments. In this way we will avoid the appearance of fears and phobias.
Most of the time, if a dog is afraid, it is usually related to a bad socializationHowever, other possible reasons that can cause fear of the dog can be:
- Lack of contact with other people
- Some traumatic experience
- Because his parents already had that behavior, and he has learned from them
- You may have suffered physical punishment by humans
- He has had contact with few people in his life
- Having been exposed to toxic substances
- Age (or cognitive dysfunction syndrome)
Sometimes, Dogs show exclusively fear of men and not women. In that case, it is usually because something has happened exclusively with men. Remember! Men tend to have a stronger voice, tend to be taller and have facial hair, all this could scare a dog!
It is also possible that your dog has fear of a specific person, or on the contrary, that su fear be widespread with all the people.
How to know if your dog is afraid or a phobia
Really, fear is an emotion that in nature allows dogs survival. However, a phobia is a disproportionate emotion.
- If your dog Try to run away, attack, stay still, then ... Your dog is afraid.
- In case that your dog has a phobia, it will be uncontrollable, being able to have panic attacks and anxiety.
In any case, seeing a specialist (especially if it is a phobia) is essential. This will rule out possible pathological problems in the dog.
Tips you should use if your dog is afraid of people
The first thing you should do before considering any type of therapy, is Learn the canine language itself. That is, to understand what your dog feels in every moment! This is basic to help your dog overcome his fear.
Once you have done this, you must Identify the stimuli that trigger your pet's fear. Are you scared of all people? Are you only afraid of men? Are you afraid only of people who approach you?
If you are clear about all this, then you should start controlling your pet's interactions with other people. If your dog is afraid of all kinds of people, It is not convenient that you suddenly find yourself in a crowd! You must try to be safe at all times. Thus, You will help him gain confidence and feel safe winged people.
The idea is that your dog understands that whenever he is with you, nothing will happen to him!
Therapies for dogs with fear
In the event that you are finally encouraged to go to a specialist, It is very normal to recommend approach therapies. This type of therapy is carried out in a controlled environment, with the educator and other people who will act as if they were street pedestrians. In these cases, positive reinforcement will be used to encourage good behavior, and that this associates people with prizes.
Things you should NOT do if your dog is afraid
If your dog is afraid, what we are going to tell you can cause a setback in his therapy!
- Allow people on the street to approach your dog directly
- Force, force or punish him. I could end up attacking!
- Do not go to a specialist if your dog shows aggressive> (Photo via: expert animal)
In the event that your dog is afraid, but not aggressive, you can start working with trusted people, following these tips:
- Try not to stare at him, or lean over him. Tell them to wait for the dog to make the first contact.
- The interaction should be done normally, being relaxed and ignoring the dog.
- Have to leave that the dog gets used to seeing those people. You may not want to approach at first, and gradually begin to show interest in these new visitors.
- Ask your visitors, that if the dog approaches them, they will reward you with dog treats. And then continue ignoring the dog.
- Repeat the exercise as many times as necessary., until your dog tolerates them. Once dominated, repeat it with different people!
- Once inside the house this exercise comes out normally, Do the same exercises outside!
Remember! The process of removing a fear of a dog can be quite long. If a professional works with you, it will be much more effective, and can better help you with behavioral problems that your pet may have.
Why is a dog afraid of people?
Fear is an emotion that appears at the end of the socialization stage of the puppy. Before that time comes, it is essential present and accustom our dog to all kinds of people, animals, objects and environments, if not, fears and phobias appear.
Although generally this fear is related to a bad socialization, there are other causes that can cause fear in the dog, such as:
- Lack of regular contact with people.
- Traumatic experiences related to people.
- Due to genetics (child of fearful parents).
- Use of punishment in the dog and / or aversive techniques.
- Contact with little variety of people throughout his life.
- Aging (cognitive dysfunction syndrome).
- Diseases and exposure to toxic substances.
Sometimes some dogs may show fear of men and not women, that is usually due to everything mentioned above but related to men only. In addition, people of the male gender tend to have a stronger voice, tend to be taller and have facial hair, characteristics that usually scare a dog more.
It can also happen that the dog has fear of very specific people (for example, fear of veterinarians or fear of people in uniform) or that fear is widespread.
How to differentiate fear from phobia?
We must remember that fear is an adaptive emotion that allows it to survive, while the phobia is a disproportionate emotion. If our dog suffers from fear, we will observe that he tries to run away, move, stand still and even attack, while if the dog has a phobia it will act completely uncontrollably and we will observe panic attacks and anxiety.
In any case it will be interesting to see a specialist, but in the case of phobia it will be essential, since it is much more complicated to work and pathological problems in the dog should be ruled out. It may also be related to sensory deprivation syndrome.
What to do when a dog is afraid of people?
Before considering any type of therapy, it will be essential learn canine language, that is, the signs of calm or appeasement, physical signals that will help us understand if our dog is calm or if on the contrary it is uncomfortable. Understanding our dog is key to helping you overcome your fears.
The next step will consist of identify the stimuli that unleash fear. Are you scared of all people equally or only before men? Are you afraid only when they talk to you and / or approach you or even from afar?
Once we have clear these concepts we must control interactions of the dog with people. It is very important that our dog with fear is not suddenly among a crowd or before people who try to touch or pet it, we must try to feel safe at all times (watching him and looking at the signs of calm that he can show). That will help you gain confidence and feel better with us.
If our dog feels good, it will be easier for him to begin to overcome his fears. We will always keep a safe distance from other people and if they try to get close we can scare them away arguing that our dog bites, for example, even if it is not true, to prevent him from trying to run away or react. The idea is that, as long as the dog is with us, know that nothing bad will happen.
Reasons for fear of people
There are several factors why your dog may feel afraid of people, either a group (elderly or children) or a particular person. These are considered the most common:
- Genetics and race. There are some types of breed that are considered shy and scary, such as the Great Dane, which despite its large size is a fearful dog. If you are from the time when they broadcast the famous Scooby-Doo series, you could learn a lot about the character of this animal. Greyhounds also have a similar character.
In these cases it can be very difficult, even impossible, to eradicate this type of behavior, because against genetics it is very difficult to fight. However, even in these cases, knowing the predisposition that these dogs have, if since they are puppies you teach them to socialize with other dogs and people, they may grow up to be the sympathetic and sociable dog you want.
- Traumatic experience. This is another factor that can influence the fear of your dog's people. If you have it since puppy, you may think that your animal has not gone through a traumatic experience. Consider that for them the word traumatic may not acquire as much importance as for us.
Maybe your dog has not been mistreated, but it is possible that small gestures of someone around you, even when they have been joking, may have affected the character of your dog. For example, it is possible that one of your children has made the animal angry since he was a puppy. This could be playing but it can gradually affect the subconscious making the mastoca more antisocial.
Perhaps one of your friends joked with him by removing a bone or his favorite toy. Both situations can make the animal see humans as a threat and use fear as a protective shield.
How to eradicate the fear of my dog's people
As we have said before, if the dog is an adult and is conditioned by its genetics, it can be very difficult to eradicate that fear of people. If you are a puppy of a conditioned breed, help him socialize from the start.
However, in most cases it is possible to eradicate your dog's fear of people doing two things:
- Socialize with your dog. Teach your dog to approach other people and other dogs, but do not do it abruptly, let alone force it, that will not reach anywhere. Try to socialize with puppies that are calm and gradually select larger canines. Do the same with people, teach your dog that nothing happens to be caressed by a stranger. The advantage is that a scary hairy as a rule will not be aggressive.
- Educate people. Yes, people who want to approach your dog should be educated with several things in mind. They must let themselves be smelled by the animal or extend their hand so they smell it, as a caress of a stranger can scare anyone.
In fact, when someone comes and touches us from behind, the first thing we do is turn to see if we know him. We are afraid of the unknown and your dog too.
Collaborate in the action of your dog socializing with people giving treats to the latter so that they have an ace in the sleeve when approaching the animal. Little by little you will see how the fear of people who feel your dog disappears.
However, that is where the problem arises, because there are not a few dogs that show fear in such everyday situations as seeing a person.
The reasons why a dog may become afraid of people they are very diverse, from genetic aspects (the so-called "fear genetics"), to traumatic experiences with people, such as physically or psychologically abused dogs.
The fear of people has many faces, from trying to flee from such people that cause them that fear (passive defense, first option for all dogs) to attack or attack them (active defense), reaching the so-called "learned helplessness" in its most extreme phase, where the dog lacks any interest in living.
It is essential to know this, since most of the problems of dogs are rooted in fear.
Most dogs come to aggression after trying to activate the escape mechanisms and not having succeeded. This can happen many times without the owners being aware, such as the simple fact of mishandling a leash, which obviously limits the dog's ability to move freely.
You must flee from the state of depression of a dog with a lot of fear of people. Dogs with more extreme fears tend to "throw the towel" on the road to the pursuit of happiness, help them not to fall for that. Although it is a generally very comfortable situation for the owners, the unhappiness of the dog is maximum.
It is clear, however, our firm opposition to their use, in general for any problem, but especially to address a fear problem, for example, to people.
Can you imagine that as you are afraid to speak in public they put an electric collar on you so that you will overcome it? You may get to speak in public, but it is assured that behind that situation you will get other problems, perhaps at first hidden, but they will end up flowing from within.
On the other hand, How social do you consider yourself? You are the reference, why should it be your social dog if you are not?
I must admit that many times it is better not to do what to do, because people have an innate ability to "break the unbreakable."
However, in the case of fears of people it is important that, if the intensity of the problem is important, we consider taking an active part of the solution as soon as possible, before these problems become chronic and generalize. If you can't alone, ask a professional for help or, much better, learn to help your dog yourself.
Why wouldn't it make sense to use the same criteria for our dogs? Teach things progressively.
Dogs rarely learn something good by flooding (immersion), a technique consisting of «directly submerging» the dog in the stimulus that is the object of fear, in this case people. Usually, a dog with fear of people needs to have the opportunity to analyze the problem in perspective, which implies that you will need more space at the beginning to be able to verify that the people you meet in your day to day are not a problem.
There are dogs whose genetic configuration will make them always fearful, some to such an extent that they can hardly lead "normal" lives, which does not mean that they should be condemned to unhappiness.
Patricia McConnell in his book «For the love of a dog» describe in detail the main canine emotions, dedicating a tremendously interesting section to fear. In it he tells us how a genetic line of pointers had so deeply rooted the genetics of fear that in all his life they never got these dogs to accept people. You can learn more with the "Theory of the 4 legs".