Everyone has some fear in their life. This is even applicable to dogs. There are numerous things that your dog may fear. One of them is the fear of strangers or unknown animals. There are different ways a dog shows its fear. Some dogs just cry and hide, while others become aggressive. Usually, the aggressive behavior is not an issue with strangers. However, if you have guests in the house, then it can surely become an issue.
The question is why dogs fear strangers or other animals around them? Why do they choose a particular response to this situation? In short, the issue is with the social life of the dog, shyness, and many more. Can the behavior of the dog be changed? Well, the chances are 50-50. You may be able to do that, but it requires a huge amount of effort.
In this blog, we will also share the most effective methods to remove this behavior in the dog.
Why do they fear strangers?
Below, we have mentioned the main reasons behind the fear in dogs towards strangers.
Many dog owners believe that there is no difference between dog breeds other physical appearance. However, that is a myth. As per the breed you have, there will be a lot of difference in the personality of the dog. For instance, a German Shepherd usually remains anti-social and does not like to interact with people.
On the other hand, Yorkshire loves to interact with people and does not fear strangers. Thus, if your dog fears strangers, then it has a lot to do with the breed you have, as the genetics makes them shy. Therefore, if you want a bold dog, then you have to search for a breed with similar traits.
Issues with raising the dog
The most common reason behind fear from strangers is the improper raising of the dog. What do we mean by that? Well, it means that you have not focused on the social behavior of the dog from the beginning.
Raising a dog is quite similar to raising a human child. You need to teach them everything, including social skills. How can you teach them that? It is simple. Since the beginning, you need to let the dog interact with other humans and animals. This tells them that others are its friends, and they will not hurt them or the owner.
If a dog is dealing with traumas, then it is highly challenging to help overcome it. Many doctors even believe that a dog cannot ever overcome trauma. Similarly, the dog may fear strangers, due to something that may have happened in the past. This usually happens with adult adopted dogs. Abandoned dogs are usually highly abused by their previous owner. Thus, whenever they see a stranger, they perceive that the person is going to hit them.
Now, you may observe two types of reactions. An aggressive and conservative one. However, there are some ways to help the dog overcome this situation. We will discuss the same in the upcoming sections.
All of us require personal space when it comes to interacting with people. We would surely not want anyone to cross the line. Many a time, we blame the dog for fearing from strangers and unknown animals. However, there are even chances that the stranger has crossed the line for the dog. Maybe the stranger is doing something, which is not acceptable by the dog.
For instance, let us say that the dog does not like getting patted on the nose. However, the stranger does the same. In that case, the dog can get aggressive, which is a sign of fear.
How to overcome that fear?
Here are the most effective ways to help the dog overcome fear. You also need to know that these methods may take some time, and will require consistent efforts. Moreover, you will have to be patient with the dog. Any type of punishment will just increase the fear of the dog.
Let that be
This is the easiest step to deal with the fear of the dog. Let us understand this by an example. Assume that the dog does not like to meet other dogs in the neighbor. In that case, you must not force the dog to meet others. Instead, you let the dog decide whether it wants to meet others or not. The basic aim is to accept the dog, as it is. If you follow this, then slowly the dog may change its behavior towards others.
As mentioned earlier, the fear in the dog can be due to a lack of social skills. Thus, you need to work upon that with the dog. Take the dog to the park or other places, where people or other animals gather. Again, never force the dog to meet others.
Instead, you must be an example for the dog. Interact with other animals and people around you. This will tell the dog that others are friendly and they do not intend to do any harm. You can also bring another animal into the house. Just make sure that you choose wisely. Some dog breeds do not get along with animals like cats. Instead, you can bring another dog into the house. Let both dogs become best friends.
Change external factors
As per this step, you need to ask strangers not to interact with the dog. Yes, strangers usually greet a dog in the house. However, if the dog fears a stranger, then do not let them interact. You can keep the dog in another room, or you may keep them away from the stranger.
If the dog shows aggressive behavior, then you can even leash them. Slowly, the dog will try to interact with the stranger. If the dog does so, then you need to ask the stranger to give it some treat. This will be the first friendly interaction between the stranger and the dog.
The last solution revolves around consulting a vet. As mentioned earlier, traumas can create fear in dogs. It can also give rise to depression, and social anxiety. Therefore, the problem is psychological. In that case, you need to consult a vet and ask for proper medical treatment.
If the dog is aggressive due to fear, then never go for neutering. Why? Well, if you do so, then they will become extremely depressed. You can also consult a professional trainer, to identify the things, which are leading to this issue.
Now you know the real reason behind the fear in the dog. We have also shared some effective methods to help the dog overcome it. Irrespective of that, you need to ensure that you let the dog decide things in the procedure. The dog must be comfortable if you are planning to let it meet a stranger. If it is not, then you need to take a step back.
All these methods were chosen based on our intense research and experience with dogs. If your dog is dealing with trauma, then the best way is to consult a vet. Moreover, you must remain extremely sensitive to the condition of the dog.