What a fear period isn’t, and when to seek help:
Remember that if its a fear period, you will see a sudden onset of these behaviors in a dog that has been otherwise confident and comfortable.
If you have a dog or puppy that has been experiencing any of these signs for more than 2-3 weeks, youre seeing a consistent worsening of fearful behaviors, and/or you have acquired a new dog or puppy that came to you already showing these behaviors, seek professional guidance.
For online dog training or in-person training help, or to get a referral for a qualified trainer in your area, please contact us.
A few other training blogs you may find helpful:
Should you cuddle a scared dog?”Don’t rush to hug, instead remove the dog from the situation, let it calm down naturally, and re-introduce it to the thing making it scared, gradually.” So now we know. And patting is out too, because this can make a dog feel threatened. Instead lower yourself to their level and let them come to you.
Are Fear Periods Normal for Puppy Development?
Several critical developmental periods occur during puppy maturity, and puppy fear stages are among them. As previously mentioned, fear periods in young dogs are normal, and all dogs of all breeds and sizes will undergo them.
It is believed that these periods of fear in adolescent dogs will provide them with their “fight or flight” instincts. In other words, they are learning what they are supposed to be afraid of and subsequently avoid for survival purposes.
During puppy fear stages, a single intimidating or painful experience will have a lifelong impact on the way your dog responds to that stimulus. This phenomenon—referred to as single-event learning—means that it takes only one negative incident with a particular trigger to cause an intense, permanent emotional response to that trigger in the future, regardless of the circumstances.
From a survival standpoint, this learning style makes a lot of sense: puppies do not need to encounter life-threatening situations more than once to learn that they should be avoided.
However, in today’s world, where our canine companions are typically well cared for, sheltered, and protected, these stages are not as necessary as they would have been in the wild. We can now use these stages to our advantage, to help the fearful puppy overcome his alarm and build trust in your relationship, which can prevent behavioral issues later in life.
This Dog is Afraid of Everything! – Solid K9 Training (2021)
Every morning, Mrs. Henderson would walk her 7-month old Border Collie pup, Scout, for one mile around the neighborhood. Scout, true to his Collie nature, was always vibrant, eager, and playful on his morning walks. He loved to sniff everything and meet new humans and dogs with obvious delight.
One morning, Mrs. Henderson noticed a drastic change in Scout’s behavior. It began as they left the house, when he seemed timid and afraid to walk past the garbage bins that had been placed out overnight. Next, he started barking as a child rode past on a tricycle and it took several moments for Mrs. Henderson to calm him down. Lastly, he approached strangers hesitantly, as if dipping his toes in the water.
What was wrong with Scout? Mrs. Henderson was worried that he might be sick. She called Scout’s trainer who explained that Scout was not sick—he was simply entering his second fear period.