Fear periods are part of your pup’s development. The first one tends to happen between 8 -10 weeks of age and hopefully owners are micromanaging the environment and what the pup is exposed to. So for the majority this phase goes unnoticed.
The second phase is more variable and can happen between 6-14 months and can last 2-3 weeks. It can come ‘out of the blue’ and can be a bit of a shock if the owner feels everything is going so well. Your pup may start to react to things he was once happy or comfortable with. It could be your neighbour coming out of their house or towards a motorbike covered with a sheet. The sudden suspicious and sometimes reactive behaviour is normal and for the most part will pass on it’s own with the individual returning to normal, 2-3 weeks later. The worrying part of this phase is how sensitive the dog’s brain is to different experiences. One single painful or frightening experience can cause a detrimental effect to the dog for life.
Of course there is only so much we can do to control the environment to prevent something scary from happening but here’s a few tips you can do if you notice your dog is in a fear period:
1) Remain Calm
2) Simplify the situation. Break it down into tiny chunks, if the pup is still worried break it down even further. Create distance if you have too.
3) Work at the speed of your pup, watch his body language and respect him if he wants to walk away
4) Never punish a pup. Help him.
If your pup is in a fear period you may want to hang fire with going to the groomer and also neutering your pup. Where possible you need to reduce the chances of something ‘bad’ happening to your pup.
If you are concerned about your pup’s behaviour please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org