Did your young dogs fear seem to come out of nowhere? Let’s talk ‘Fear Impact Periods’…
Fear Impact Periods -
In general, the more independence a dog achieves with maturity, the more cautious they become about the unfamiliar. During these distinct periods, dogs may become fearful of situations they once appeared to be accepting of, finding things more threatening.
We’ll start with the second fear impact period as this is when you are likely to bring your pup home;
The Second Impact Period —
From approximately eight to ten weeks. Also called the ‘fear of situations period’. During the Second Fear Impact Period it is important to avoid exposing your puppy to traumatic experiences (a long, winding car journey or air freighting your puppy for instance).
The Third Fear Impact Period —
Six to fourteen months. This is not so much one continuous period as a series of short periods, popping up once in a while.
This fear period is related to sexual maturity and growth spurts. Because of this, it usually occurs later in large breeds.
Reactivity increases during this time. Territorial behaviour may show itself because strangers are potential threats to the fearful dog, particularly on the home property. In this period, in the wild, dogs are permitted to go hunting. During this time, it is important to stay with the pack for safety. The puppy learns to run away if something unknown approaches them.
During this period the owner may be dealing with a dog barking, lunging and pulling on their lead. You can see why owners get worried about their dogs behaviour.
There is a Fourth Fear Impact Period in early adulthood. This is where levels of aggression may increase as well as protectiveness and territoriality.
With these periods, as with the management of fear generally, you get what you reflect, so act calm (yes you may be acting).
Do not put tension on the lead around other dogs or when you come across children for example and try not to tense up.
The key here is to build confidence in your dog, don’t force situations upon them but also do not ‘bubble wrap them’, let them explore and praise this effort, Selina McIntyre, Dog Behavioural Consultant & Dog Trainer, Dogs Best Friend.