The world can be quite a scary place for a puppy! This can include going on a walk where there are unfamiliar surroundings and loud noises such as cars, planes, birds, other dogs and/ or people! Instead of thinking of this behavior as an “obedience issue” try to start looking at it as an “emotional issue”.
The truth is, not all dogs like to go on walks and might prefer another form of exercise such as swimming or catching a ball. It could also be that this puppy had experienced trauma outside of the home and could be experiencing a trauma response. When a dog is fearful, they can go into fight, flight or freeze mode and this particular puppy may be experiencing freeze mode. This can be described as “attentive immobility”.
Some questions I would ask would be;
- Was this puppy socialized during the crucial socialization period (birth to 18 weeks)?
- Was the puppy in a fight during the fear period (4 to 6 months then again when 8 to 10 months)?
- Is the puppy scared when another dog approaches them?
- Is this a genetic factor where the dog inherited anxious behaviors from their parents?
The fear period starts when your puppy is between the age of 4 to 6 months. Then, another fear period starts when your puppy is about 8 months old. This could be happening if your puppy was in a fight during this time.
Let’s put this into a human perspective;
If someone were to put a snake (or something you are afraid of) in front of you, you may not want to be put next to a snake again. But if you were to get a piece of chocolate every time the snake was put next to you your brain will start to interpret this as getting something good or of high value. This will help you with your fear of snakes because you will associate it with a treat. The same goes for our dogs!
Remember, trauma is trauma! Each and every one of us, human or animal, can experience trauma. Antianxiety medication prescribed by your pet’s veterinarian can help when training your pet and working on behavior modification with a behavior consultant or behaviorist. There are also homeopathic options such as a Thundershirt, Zylkene or Adaptil Spray you can try that might help your pet.
For more information, check out Truly Force Free Animal Training’s Understanding Canine Body Language Webinar here: https://trulyforcefree.com/webinar-canine-body-language/