Since a dog’s senses are keener than humans, we often find that a phobia a dog develops is often related to their senses. Because of that, it leaves them vulnerable, associating it with that fear. Genetics, lack of proper socialization, and a history of negative experiences can all contribute to these phobias. We’ve all seen or heard of furry friends with these phobias, and many products and solutions exist. As a dog grooming service, let’s look at the top 10 dog fears and phobias and how to help them.
1. Thunderstorms – Because dogs can sense a storm coming way before humans, you may start to see signs of anxiety before you hear the clap of thunder. Once the storm approaches, it’s far louder, seems way closer, and is more jarring for them. The biggest dogs could crawl under the smallest spaces in a storm, possibly due to the change in the atmosphere. A storm changes the atmospheric conditions and releases large amounts of static electricity into the air, which could cause their fur coat to start tingling with static. One solution is to use an unscented dryer sheet to minimize static. Just make sure there are no harmful chemicals in it and limit the frequency of use.
2. Fireworks – Fireworks could almost replace thunderstorms as the number one fear in dogs. Still, when you add the odor they produce and the bright flashes associated with them, it’s easy to see that fireworks and thunderstorms are neck and neck. Be sure to keep your dog in a restrained environment during fireworks. Dogs are often lost due to the fear and flight reflex when fireworks are present.
3. Car Rides – Some may have never had a dog that was fearful of car rides, but some dogs experience motion sickness in a car, and it’s more common than you think. Cars are big and fast, and many sounds, sights, and smells are associated with being a passenger. Restrain your dog in a crate, seatbelt, or car seat for canines. The restraint will prevent your pet from the motion of braking, turning, and accelerating. Plus, you are less distracted. Also, try to withhold food for several hours before a drive with your furry friend.
4. Grooming – Yes, grooming can be a stressful event for your dog. It’s most likely that your dog is overwhelmed by sensory input. The sounds and smells, other stressed-out pets, and extra body handling by unfamiliar people can all contribute to this fear. At Canine Couture, we are sensitive to all these issues and take great care to handle your pet with gentleness and kindness. It can be chaotic, with dogs and people constantly coming in and out. Dogs pick up on the other excited/nervous dogs, and some dislike being bathed and messed with. Talk to us about how your pet would be most comfortable. We want to know so we can help remove some of that stress. Over time they will be less stressed by a day at the spa.
5. The Vet – The vet is a sensory overload for a dog. With all the things that can poke and prod, all the new people, and other furry friends in the waiting room, it’s easy to see how this would be a stressful environment for your dog. Make sure they are restrained, and choose a vet’s office that can love on your pet to make them feel more comfortable.
6. Being Alone – If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, have they experienced a change in their environment, schedule, or lifestyle? Any of these can trigger it, but some breeds are more prone to this than others. What matters is how you handle it. It can take time to work through these issues with a professional.
7. People – Dogs who have experienced abuse or neglect can be afraid of certain things in people. Is it people who wear hats, a tall man, a loud woman? It happens. Most dogs are quite social animals and love attention and good petting. Socializing your dog from a young age is always a good thing.
8. Other Dogs – Your dog’s exposure to social situations or lack thereof might be why there is fear of other dogs. This fear can also happen if they have experienced trauma. Watch out for your body language in social situations around other dogs. Sometimes we are helicopter parents over our pets. They pick up on that and act out.
9. Stairs – If your dog is afraid of stairs, it may be because they may not have been exposed to them in their younger years. Or worse yet, they had a traumatic experience in the past. If you have a senior pet, steps may cause arthritic pain, or their aging hips may make climbing stairs difficult and painful. Have patience with your dog, work on desensitizing them, and do some counter-conditioning and positive reinforcement to help them overcome it.
10. Unfamiliar Objects – We’ve all seen videos of startled dogs with unfamiliar objects. Some dogs take that to the extreme, like vacuum cleaners, loud machinery, a balloon, or a child’s toy. It all falls under the category of fear of the unknown. You don’t want to see aggression or destructive behavior as a result. If you see any of these phobias, there are professionals who can help them overcome these fears.
At Canine Couture, we understand dog fears and phobias, and our number one goal is your pet’s comfort at our facility. If they are comfortable, we can bathe and groom them, so they return to you clean and prepped for all the affection they deserve. Please reach out online to schedule an appointment or submit an inquiry. You can also reach us by phone at 404-301-8344 or by Email. We are looking forward to it.