Why Do Some Dogs Fear Objects?

dog afraid of objects

Is there a fear of items in your dog's life? When you bring out the vacuum cleaner, does he go to hide under your bed? Is he franticly barking at step ladders? If this is the case, your dog is most likely reacting in fear.

Causes of a Fear of Objects

For a number of causes, dogs might acquire phobias or fears. In many circumstances, the dog is just afraid of something new. A excellent illustration of this is the yearly Christmas tree. Your dog is unable to comprehend why you are decorating for the holidays. All he sees is a large tree with lights and shiny items where there was previously no tree.

Because of the unpredictable lights, noises, or movements that some things create, dogs might develop terrified of them. Toby, a hound mix, for example, stands and barks at a child's toy animal singing a birthday song. As he barks, he stays low to the ground, his ears curled back, ready to flee if the toy animal lunges at him. He has acquired a dread of the stuffed animal as a result of the strange and unexpected sounds. Many owners notice their pets developing a dread of vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, and other loud household appliances.

A bad experience with an object might make a dog scared of it or avoid it in the future. In certain circumstances, it's beneficial for dogs to remember when they've had a bad experience so that they may avoid it the next time. However, their appraisal of a dangerous scenario is not always accurate, which might lead to counterproductive worries. Though you mistakenly place a step ladder on your dog's paw, the discomfort he feels may cause him to be afraid of the ladder in the future, even if there is no genuine risk.

Overcoming a Fear of Objects

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to put your dog at ease if they are fearful:

Put Objects Out of Sight

You can hide some items from your dog's view by simply hiding them. If it's something your dog won't see very often, you might be able to completely avoid exposing him to it. Toby's dread of the stuffed animal, for example, is easily managed because the object can be put in a closet out of his sight.

Coax Your Dog's Fear Away With Treats

Positive reinforcement may be used to assist your dog approach closer and closer to the thing, overcoming a slight phobia. Give your dog whenever he approaches the object, and use positive reinforcement to teach him that this may be enjoyable. With each stride he makes, gently toss some snacks his way. If it doesn't work, try strewing along the path leading up to the object. Allow your dog to collect the rewards at his own pace, and allow him plenty of room to examine the area around the object. Every day, leave a few goodies around the object. Your dog may eventually learn that anytime he approaches the object he formerly feared, he receives positive reinforcement.

Gradually Desensitize Your Dog to the Object

More serious anxieties may need a bit more effort to overcome. You may need to gradually acclimate your dog to certain items. This kind of desensitization is effective in overcoming the fear of things that the dog may have to confront and that may not stay in one location, such as the vacuum cleaner. The purpose of desensitization is to take little steps at first, starting with a level of comfort for your dog and gradually increasing to the most extreme exposures. You may discover that keeping the object at a distance is all your dog can handle at first, and you may gradually move the object closer with each training session. Before reintroducing more stimuli to things that make noise, move, or have lights, start with the object stationary and in the off position until your dog is familiar with that setting. Treats do not work for every dog, so pick the incentive that works best for yours. This might be a favorite toy, physical love, or enthusiastic praise. Take your time and be consistent. To observe results, you may need to conduct small training sessions every day for several weeks. A excellent illustration is the vacuum:

Begin by placing the vacuum cleaner in the center of the room and without turning it on. Treats should be placed near the vacuum. It might take several days or more for your dog to get comfortable approaching the object.

The next step is to begin moving the vacuum cleaner. Keep the vacuum turned off when you begin this process. Move the vacuum around the room a little, and toss some treats to your dog.

Once the dog is able to be around the moving vacuum without fear, try turning it on for just a few seconds while continuously tossing some really yummy treats to your dog. Slowly build up the amount of time the vacuum is on until your dog is able to get close to it without showing signs of fear.

Gradually work up to moving the vacuum around while it is turned on. Soon you should be able to vacuum the whole house without a whimper from your dog.

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