Fear avoidance is something that is common to all puppies. You will see your dog display fearful behavior quite often as the pup learns about the new environments and surroundings he/she will exposed to in the beginning of its life.
You must remember it is natural and is often based on instinctual survival. How you handle your pups fear is absolutely critical.

When we see serious fear avoidance issues in adolescent dogs we can usually trace it back to how the dog was raised, socialized, and handled as a pup.

As hard as it may be for some folks it is imperative that you do not pick up or coddle your pup when it becomes startled or frightened. The exception is if your pup is in a dangerous situation or approached by an aggressive dog which may discipline or harm your pup inappropriately. Remember that a stable older dog is not dangerous to your pup but your pup may scream, pee, and panic for a second or more upon being checked out. The reason is that the pup does not know what the older dogs intentions are immediately. Is it coming to kill me?

No, dogs are social pack animals and will meet, greet, and investigate any new dog on the block. A lot of information is passed on from these greeting. Social status, sex, what you had for breakfast.

Now what you must realize that fear may be displayed at many times during the dog’s upbringing. Passing a new garbage can on the side walk that wasn’t their day before. A stranger comes abruptly to greet your dog, a car or bicyclist passing by, a lighting storm. The list goes on.

If you pet, pick up, or coddle your dog when it is displaying these fearful episodes you are actually reinforcing the fear. What you need to do is show confidence yourself and calmly communicate to your pup that it’s no big deal. This can be done by positive reinforcement and redirection. Often this is where focused attention comes into play. As well as play training. Have treats with you and teach your pup to sit and look into your eyes (focused attention). When your pup is focused on you he will not be worried about his surroundings but concentrating on you. No fear! Again look at DIRECTED PLAY TRAINING. Very valuable tool to get the dogs mind right.
Only pet, praise, or coddle your dog when it is showing confidence in new situations and you will avoid the fear avoidance dilemma that can become quite problematic and more difficult to fix as the dog becomes mature. FEAR BITING is another issue we will cover in a future article and it is directly related to fear avoidance issues.

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