Category Archives: desensitization

How to Desensitize a Scared Dog

By Linda Cole

Dogs can show a fear of storms, fireworks or loud voices. Their fear can be mild to severe and when a storm is on the horizon, your dog may disappear or hunker down until the storm has passed. Fear of storms or loud noise adds stress to their life and yours. Sometimes it’s hard to understand dog behavior, but once we do, we can set up a program to desensitize a scared dog and teach him there’s nothing to fear from thunder or loud noises.

Fear of loud noises is only one type of fear dogs can show. Some become anxious around strangers or other dogs. I had a dog who didn’t like to be around men. Some dogs are scared of objects like vacuum cleaners or grooming combs, and some dogs don’t want their paws touched for any reason. Since dogs can’t tell us why something scared them, the only thing we can do is pay attention to our dogs during stressful times to figure out what is scaring them. Desensitization is one way to help change a dog’s behavior and help him get rid of his fear.

The last thing you should do when your dog is scared is tell him everything is alright, because you’re telling him it’s okay to be fearful. By ignoring his reaction to thunder or loud noises, he sees you remaining calm and nothing bad happened to you, so it must be okay.

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