Why is your dog afraid of other dogs?

Lukas watching a big dog from distance and away from the fence.

Lukas watching a big friendly dog from distance and away from the fence in the dog park.

Dogs like humans need to socialize from a very early stage in their lifes so they are able to develop self confidence, specially while interacting with other dogs. Canine socialization helps to improve the dog canine body language communication. This includes for example the ability the dog has to play with other dogs without stress and feelings of either attack or defence due to being afraid.

Lukas running away on the right from the dog closeness

Lukas running away on the right from the dog closeness

The dog can also learn during the process of socialization the limits of bullying other dogs by trying not to dominate them and when it should stop the tough play. According to canine behavioural specialists, the first 3 months of a puppy life are very important towards the development of his socialization. The first seven to eight weeks are actually recommend that the puppy remains with its mother. This enables them to become more confident, fearless and with no fear-aggressive behaviour (Stilwell 2013).

Lukas staying put against the fence aways from the other dogs - Dog park

Lukas staying still against the fence away from the other dogs – Dog park

However, being with the mother does not always happens as in many cases dogs are separated from their siblings from early stage due to abandon or due to some breeders criteria. In the case of puppies which were abandoned, the situation gets worse as theses puppies are more prone to gain fears from other dogs due to unknown or bad experiences with big dominating or aggressive dogs.Our dogs Lukas is a rescued dog, now with 10 months. There have been excellent improvements on Lukas socialization with other dogs after our introduction to the dog park post and high exposure to other dogs on the streets on the leash. This exposure included positive association with treat, physical and verbal praise rewards. The video below shows the first time Lukas actually started running along the fence with another bigger dog in a playful way.

Trying to have Lukas alone on the dog park with other middle and bigger size dogs, specially playful ones is still not an option. Lukas starts showing his teeth preparing to bite if the bigger dog gets too close or start jumping or chasing him. This can be seen in the video below. So we concluded that he needed to relearn to socialize from the beginning with what we hope will become more positive experiences. A bigger in size dog will take its time and we should not overexpose Lukas, but rather very gradually and positive experiences.

References:

Stilwell, V. (2013) Train your Dog Positively, Ten Speed Press, 1ed., USA.

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