Dealing with Fear in Dogs
How is a normal fear differentiated from a phobia?
Experiencing fear when lightning strikes outside is normal, and most people startle or jump in response. This type of reaction is normal in animals as well. However, if fear manifests every time a dark cloud appears in the sky, the leaves rustle, or even at a specific time of the day, these reactions are more indicative of a phobia.
Dogs who experience fear and or anxiety frequently, will suffer from chronic stress. Fear, by definition, is an emotion that induces an animal to avoid situations and activities that may be dangerous. The emotional response occurs when an animal perceives that something or someone is dangerous. The key word here is perceives. It is critical that anyone working or living with dogs understands that just because they do not think the person, event, or thing is to be feared does not mean that the fear is not real to the dog. A dog's perception is his reality, and that is what the dog will act on.
Fearfulness is probably the most studied behavioural trait in animals. In dogs, there are several behavioural reactions that are commonly associated with fearfulness. Whether or not a particular dog responds with a fear reaction depends upon a variety of factors including
• Experiential factors