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Forms of dog fear: it’s necessary to distinguish the causes of fear and the dog’s reaction in a certain situation

author Lucy Byrne | Care and raising

Innate fear

The so-called innate deprivation is a form of fear which appears mainly in wild and semi-wild dogs. In everyday life, you encounter it most often in animals from puppy farms, which particularly the Eastern Europe is infamous for. Puppy farms are a world where the law of the pack applies, dogs breed here and grow up without any human oversight. In these individuals, an important role is played by the nature of the dog parents. Since shyness can be inherited even after several generations.

Dogs with innate deprivation are adapted to a life in a pack. They don’t care for human contact, they don’t know it, they shiver when touched by a human and they try to avoid it, often even by biting. They don’t respect humans and that’s why they also don’t listen. Even such dogs can be socialised under the hands of experts, but it’s a lengthy and a very stressful process for such dog, that doesn’t always work.

There are organisations around the whole world, that take dogs that aren’t placeable to families in to spend the rest of their lives there. They are put into a pack and they can live in peace in a fenced area outdoors.

There is a greater chance of socialisation of dogs with innate fear in puppies. However, you have to start early and the dog doesn’t always lose its fear completely.

Acquired fear

In addition to innate fear, dogs can also have acquired fear. That is such, that the animal obtains through torture, shock (a bad experience) or bad socialisation at puppy age. Between the sixth and twelfth week of age, the dog creates patterns of behaviour that it then uses for whole of its life. Therefore, it’s necessary to make it familiar at this age with as many things and situations as possible. If the dog is kept in isolation, it won’t get experience with people, other dogs and other animals, situations, smells, sounds and the like. In the future, it will react with suspicion, fear or aggression.

Fear can be acquired by a dog even from bad upbringing, unconscious behaviour. If the dog is, be it from any reason, timid, it needs a firm support from its master. That is a fearless and unquestionable leader of the pack. It’s important not to calm and stroke the dog in a situation in which it’s afraid. This would strengthen its belief, that it’s fear is justifiable. Such dog will most benefit from clear rules, training of basic controllability and a self-confident master.

Have you encountered fear in a dog? How did it look like and how did you handle the situation?