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Canine Library: General

How to Overcome Dogs' Phobias

Dogs may be desensitized to things they fear.

Many dogs' fears and phobias can be modified or eliminated using a method that is variously referred to as saturation, flooding or desensitizing. The purpose is to expose the dog to so much of what causes the fear reaction that the dog no longer shows any fear at all or even much interest in the event.

Take, for example, a fear of kids on skateboards or inline skates. First, the fright is eliminated by overexposure, then replaced by acceptance as the dog learns there is nothing to fear. Finally, the encounter is turned into a pleasurable experience by having some of these kids offer an occasional treat.

This method also works well with noise phobias. An audiotape available in pet stores or from K-9 Counterconditioning (800) 952-6517 contains many sound effects such as a crying baby, thunder, fireworks and noisy machines. Instructions are included.

The best way to deal with any behavioral problem is to prevent it, and this tape can be used to expose a young puppy to all the sounds of our world and thus prevent noise phobia.

Author(s): McLennan, Bardi
Publication: Dog Fancy
Issue Date: July 1994

Canine Library: General