Why Is My Dog Shy Around Other Dogs

Think again if you believed that shyness and anxiousness were characteristics that only humans exhibited. Don’t worry—completely it’s normal for some puppies to be wary of things they don’t know, including other dogs. Socialization is crucial in these situations, where fear or uncertainty are brought on by the novelty of other dogs. A key component of socialization is introducing your puppy to a variety of people, pets, and environments while encouraging good interactions in the first few months of life. Pet school is the perfect place for your puppy to meet new people. The significance of socialization shouldn’t be understated because it’s always simpler to deal with fear, uncertainty, or apprehension than it is to treat it. No matter if it’s your first or fourth puppy, attending puppy pre-school is imperative.

According to Dr. Adam Sternberg, Regional Clinical Director for Greencross Vets, who is also one of our puppy school partners, early positive experiences and positive reinforcement are essential for the development of a happy, confident dog.

Early weeks and months of your puppy’s life are when these abilities to communicate and socialize are being established. Your puppy’s early experiences have an impact on how they play, communicate, and learn as they grow into adult dogs.

Why is my puppy scared of other dogs?

Your puppy may be fearful of other dogs for a number of reasons, but one of the simplest to address is a lack of socialization. Additionally, some dog breeds might be more prone to becoming timid. Even if they have been exposed to a variety of people, their genetic makeup makes them more likely to feel fear. The best thing you can do for your puppy is to give them occasions where they feel secure to break out of their shell rather than punishing them for being shy. The objective here is to reinforce positive behavior. Another possibility is that your puppy has shared a traumatic event with another dog. They may have been threatened or assaulted, leaving them wary of other dogs in general.

Management of your puppy’s fear

Puppy education almost always makes it simple for puppies to acclimate to their new family and develop into content, self-assured dogs. However, you must continue your studies and homework at home!” We get to encourage and teach puppies and their pet owners as they gain confidence week by week because Petbarn and Greencross Vets’ Puppy School lasts for four to five weeks, explains Dr. Adam. “By graduation, we often observe a content, self-assured, and sociable puppy with parents who are aware of their pet’s emotions and how to react.

You must speak with a puppy school trainer or your animal hospital staff before beginning any desensitization program. Desensitization might be challenging to do, so you’ll need a professional’s help and direction.

It’s crucial that your puppy trusts you, so take care not to push them too far into a disadvantageous situation while you assist them in overcoming their socialization issues with other dogs. Desensitization is one of the greatest treatments for your puppy. This entails introducing your puppy to other dogs gradually, patiently, and softly while linking the experience with positive reinforcement, such as a tasty food or their preferred toy. It does take time, and expecting one outing to solve everything is unrealistic. Please schedule a consultation with your Greencross Vet if these methods are not helping or you are having trouble. Never give up! Keep in mind that socially awkward puppies develop into socially awkward adult dogs.

Why does my dog avoid meeting other canines?

There will be instances when you observe your dog being fearful of other dogs. When this is the case, you should take the initiative to figure out how to help your dog get over their anxiety. A dog may occasionally lack socialization with other dogs and exhibit fear when other dogs approach. Your dog may be fearful of other dogs because of a traumatic event that happened in the past. Naturally timid dogs may become afraid when they come across a more dominating dog.

It’s crucial to comprehend your dog’s behavior and learn how to assist your dog in overcoming their fear if you want to have a well-adjusted canine friend. Asking about a puppy’s socialization with other dogs, including their littermates, is important if you plan to purchase one. Once your puppy has had all of the recommended vaccinations, start socializing them with other dogs in a secure setting.

Your dog’s aversion to other dogs can be attributed to three basic factors:

  • former trauma
  • Submissiveness
  • inadequate socialization

How can I help my dog become more comfortable around other dogs?

Give your dog enrichment exercises and relationship-based training to help him gain confidence more generally. You may help your dog become more confidence by feeding him using food puzzles and involving him in nose work (which, by the way, is entertaining for both dogs and their people). When you train your dog with positive reinforcement, you show him that making choices and interacting with you and his surroundings will result in rewards like cookies and praise. After all, your dog will be more anxious for new activities and the enjoyment they will undoubtedly provide the more positive ones he has.

How can I get my dog to quit being afraid of other dogs?

Reward your dog’s good conduct with food or lots of praise if they can remain calm when meeting another dog. Talking to your dog in baby speak or attempting to console him when he exhibits worried behavior will only serve to reinforce such behavior.

He’ll have figured out that showing anxiety makes you pay attention. You should dismiss any indications of anxiousness and give tranquillity praise.

When in doubt, a qualified dog trainer can offer you a strategy specifically suited to your dog’s worries and anxieties. In cases of extreme anxiety, your veterinarian could suggest medication to help calm your dog down.

What makes my dog fearful of other dogs?

In general, the majority of well-socialized dogs want to avoid aggressive or physical confrontation. Dogs indicate their desires to interact or to avoid an aggressive encounter through body language. Not all canines are adept or natural communicators with members of their own species, just like not all people are.

The diagnosis is based on how the dog behaves and responds when confronted by another dog.

Fear, poor communication, defensiveness, possessive behavior toward resources (such possibly family members or other pets), or territorial behavior toward owner or territory can all be causes of aggression amongst unacquainted dogs. Canines hurting other dogs or people trying to separate them might result from canine aggression. Growling, snarling, barking, lunging, snapping, and biting are some examples of the behavior (see Canine CommunicationInterpreting Dog Language).

How do I recognize fear-based or defensive aggression toward unfamiliar dogs?

The diagnosis is based on how the dog behaves and responds when confronted by another dog. However, depending on how the relationship turns out, these stances and responses could alter over time. For instance, the behavior tends to intensify and the body postures may become more assured if the dog learns that the hostile show ends encounters. Therefore, it’s crucial to pay attention to both current expressions and posture as well as those from the first few encounters. Fearful dogs frequently have their tails tucked, their ears pulled back, and they may lean against their owners or try to sneak up behind them. They can be lunging and backing up while barking at the approaching dog. In many cases, the dog is dodging eye contact. This behavior may have started as a result of earlier aggressive attacks that the dog was unable to resist and in which he or she was hurt. Some dogs that did not have adequate early socialization with other canines may not have the social skills needed to playfully and comfortably socialize. When there are other dogs around, if one of the dogs is overly excited and the owners are unable to calm or control it, the second dog may become scared or protective, which could eventually result in violent outbursts from both dogs.

The owner frequently influences the dog’s behavior. A leash tightening response or even “corrections that inform the dog that the approaching dog or at least the circumstance is of worry, for instance, may be used by the owner to convey tension. Additionally, the dog is likely to notice the owner’s reactions and correlate them with the approach of the other dog if the owner is upset, scared, or anxious about the dog’s conduct (rather than their own behaviors). A dog may become even more defensive and aggressive as a result of this. When a dog’s owner tries to soothe an aggressive dog, the actions the dog is currently displaying may get reinforced. The dog’s dread and anxiety in connection to the stimuli will only increase if the owner attempts to halt the behavior by threatening or punishing the dog. Owners who keep their dogs restricted on a leash—especially with a choke or pinch collar—and have poor control frequently have highly protective pets. Good control can help to relax the dog. dogs that are leashed or otherwise restricted The diagnosis is based on the dog’s body language and behavior when confronted by another dog. are more likely to act aggressively when scared because they can’t get away.

How do I recognize aggression resulting from poor communication between unfamiliar dogs?

Both dogs’ forceful postures or movements can trigger this aggression. These include putting your head or feet on the other dog’s back or adopting other dominant bodily postures like making eye contact, raising your tail, or approaching stiff-legged. Inappropriate appeasing or submissive behaviors toward the other dog by one of the two canines may result in aggression. Owners’ responses, such as pulling and tightening or correcting with the leash or when they use threats or punitive methods, may unintentionally increase the anxiety and arousal. These could alert the dog that the approaching approach could be dangerous. Leash restrictions also prevent the dog from responding at a full tempo and with the full range of body postures, approaches, and withdrawals.

Some dogs could be unsure about how to interact politely with other canines. This could be brought on by a lack of socialization with other dogs or dogs of other breeds and types, by previous negative encounters with other dogs, which would then add fear or anxiety elements to the problem. In dogs that are scared or worried, as well as in dogs that don’t have appropriate social skills with other dogs, issues can quickly get out of hand. For instance, one or both dogs may become aggressive if aggressive or dominant looks and gestures, or overly excited and reactive displays terrify the other dog. In contrast, even when the other dog exhibits deferential behavior, the signaling dog may not be interpreting the second dog’s messages and may intensify its displays, maybe to the point of aggressiveness. The second dog may develop defensive aggression as a result. Through motions, posture, and visual and vocal cues, familiar dogs in a social group can communicate effectively to reduce fighting. However, this does not always work when new dogs are meeting and welcoming each other for the first time. Additionally, the variety of physical and behavioral variations across breeds and individuals, behavioral genetics, inadequate socialization with other dogs, prior experience, and changing circumstances and locations on walks can all exacerbate the issue and heighten anxiety. When challenged, certain dogs who are particularly brave or forceful may fight rather than yield. If the owners do not have adequate verbal and physical control, assertive dogs may become too pushy and/or overly protective. During walks, if the dog drags the owners behind, it will take the initiative in responding to stimuli it encounters and won’t look to the owner for guidance or assurance. Other dogs may be in a state of tension with the other dog because they are friendly or socially drawn to it but unsure of or afraid of the potential results. Aggression can come from these ambiguous or conflicting emotional situations (see Canine CommunicationInterpreting Dog Language).

The majority of the time, this type of hostility manifests itself when other dogs enter the domain that the resident dog thinks to be his own. When other dogs enter their territory, some dogs become extremely agitated and may climb fences or enter via windows or doors to attack the invader (see AggressionTerritorial).

How do I recognize possessive aggression?

Possessive aggressiveness is mainly seen when a dog acts aggressively when approached while in possession of a specific resource, despite the fact that aggression can have numerous components (fear, learning). This could be a particular brand of food or treat, a beloved toy, a brand-new or stolen item, or when near or with a specific family member or family members. The issue develops when one dog has a very strong desire for the resource, even if the other dog defers, or when both dogs are motivated enough to utilize physical conflict to get or keep control of the resource. The issue might be avoided if the resources (toys, food) are taken away during social contacts with other dogs if the dog occasionally displays little to no aggressiveness when the specific resource is present (see AggressionPossessiveObjects and Toys and AggressionPossessiveFood Bowl).

The majority of dog-on-dog aggression is exacerbated by learning and training. The behavior will have been successful if threats or hostility cause the other dog to retreat or be taken away by its owner. The owner may only reinforce the aggressive responses if they attempt to soothe the aggressive dog. Punishing the dog who is acting aggressively toward other dogs is one of the most frequent errors.

“The problem will get worse with each exposure if the owners are unable to adequately handle the dog and resolve the situation without escalating the dog’s anxiety or growing its fear.”

This frequently increases the dog’s level of excitement and teaches it that the stimulus—another dog—is indeed connected to undesirable outcomes. In an effort to exert greater control, many owners subsequently further up the severity of the punishment (e.g., using prong or electronic shock collars), which raises the dog’s level of arousal and, in some situations, may cause defensive hostility toward the owners. Unfortunately, the fact that these solutions may at first inhibit the undesired behavior may confuse owners. Even though the response has been blocked, the negative association may intensify, therefore this does not necessarily imply that the tactics are effective. The dogs will quickly learn to become more scared and aggressive at subsequent encounters if the dog-to-dog interaction causes discomfort or harm to either one or both of the dogs. In other words, the problem will get worse with each exposure if the owners are unable to effectively handle the dog and end the situation without escalating the dog’s worry or dread.

How can I prevent my dog from becoming aggressive with other dogs?

Puppy socialization and training are the first steps towards prevention. Your dog will learn appropriate interactions with and responses to other dogs through early and frequent exposure to other dogs. This can greatly aid in reducing dog hostility against other dogs. A range of dog breeds, sizes, and personalities should be introduced as socialization progresses, starting with calm, good communicators among dogs. If there are considerable size differences, one or both dogs have cropped ears, hair that covers their eyes, or have docked tails, it may be challenging to “read” their body postures, ear carriage, eye contact, tail position, and even body postures (see Socialization and Fear Prevention). The issue will worsen with each new exposure if the owners are unable to effectively manage the dog and handle the situation without escalating the dog’s anxiety or enhancing its fear.

Your dog must be under good control. As a result, your dog will pick up on contextual cues from you and may act calmer, less apprehensive, and less protectively when faced with novel stimuli. Additionally, the dog must consistently react to the orders “sit,” “remain,” and “silent so that desired responses can be corrected rather than reinforced (see Reinforcement and Rewards and Teaching CalmSettle and Relaxation Training). To offer you more control over the dog, you might need to use a head halter if necessary (see Training Products). Training and training products with a head halter Training for head halters (synopsis). A leash is required when the dog might come into contact with other canines.

Preventing the dog from displaying lengthy and out-of-control aggression in the house and yard is crucial when it comes to territorial tendencies. Barking, lunging, dashing through fences, and jumping on doors, windows, and fences are examples of aggressive behaviors. When necessary, windows should be blocked to discourage or stop these actions, and the dog should be taken outside to do so. It will be easier to maintain control and to stop violent reactions and re-direct the dog to more suitable ones if you use a leash and head collar both inside and outside. Teaching your dog a “calm command for barking” is a crucial step (see Barking and Training “Quiet, Barking and Training “QuietSynopsis, and AggressionUnfamiliar DogsTreatment).