Fear-based behaviors range from avoiding—even hiding from—people and other dogs to snarling and snapping at them; inappropriate elimination; or even running away to escape frightening matters like thunder and fireworks.
- Timid/shy behavior is typically less reactive and includes such behaviors as panting; hiding behind furniture; urination; tail tucking, or bolting from a room or space.
- Fearful behavior is much more reactive and includes bristling, teeth baring, growling and barking. Fearful dogs are apt to display aggression, particularly when cornered.
At Camp Basenji, we address these behaviors a number of ways. Two of the most common are:
- First, we anticipate situations and preempt potential problems by controlling the space around the dog and moving him to a place he recognizes as a ‘safe spot’. Alternatively, we relieve pressure the dog perceives from a threat by establishing a barrier between him and the perceived threat.
- Second, we help both timid and fearful dogs by slowly introducing new situations, people or locations, exercising patience. During these introductions, we carefully observe the dog’s body language, slowing or backing off to relieve pressure before the dog is pushed to bite.
Finally, for dogs on the lower end of the reactive spectrum, products such as the Thundershirt; Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP); Bach Rescue Remedy Flower Essences, and other calming supplements can help them through thunderstorms, fireworks, and vet visits. Soothing music also may help. For more aggressive displays of fear, seek assistance from your vet and a certified behaviorist or trainer who specializes in fear aggression.