Dogs and Phobias • The critical development period • The role of breeders and owners • How people influence dogs • Types of phobias seen in dogs • Phobia Prevention • Preparing a firework Phobic dog for Nov 5th • Discussion on noise phobia case history • Questions and answers
Dogs and Phobias • Critical development period • Neonatal period: 0-13 days • Fully dependant on mum, will react to heat/cold/smell. Eyes closed
Dogs and Phobias • Awareness period: 21-28 days • By 21st day have full senses • Nervous system fully developed • Species identification developing (finishes between week 11 and 17) • Hazard Avoidance behaviour starts to develop, finishing between 49 and 72 days depending on breed. Suspicion of new things begins to increase. • Negative encounters during the awareness period have a profound effect for the life of the dog
Dogs and Phobias The canine socialisation period 35 – 49 days • Emotionally developed and ready to learn • Removal from mum at this stage would be disastrous for development of puppy • If a puppy remains much longer than this period their emotional development can be hampered by the family group. • Things learned during this period are retained and become ingrained in the dog’s personality.
Dogs and Phobias • Human Socialisation period 49 days to 63 days • This is the best period in which to be taken into a human family and begin training to live with humans. • By this time a puppy has learned discipline from the mother so is easier to manage.
Dogs and Phobias • The role of breeders • Breeders should ensure they research the lines before breeding. Nervousness can be an inherited behaviour. • Breeders need to be aware of the critical development phases to ensure well balanced puppies are reared. • Puppies need to be gradually introduced to handling at the appropriate development stages so as not to over or under stress them. • Breeders need to keep puppies until at least 7 weeks of age so as not to cause irreparable damage to their natural development and later integration into human society.
Dogs and Phobias • The role of owners • Owners need to ensure that they do not take on puppies less than 7 weeks of age (ideally 8- 9 weeks) and ideally not older than 9 or10 weeks. • Early socialisation and habituation is essential. Try to book into a puppy party at your vets and then go on to good puppy training classes (recommend APDT members). Ensure habituation sessions are run and advice given on how to introduce your puppy to new stimuli. • Plan ahead and book your puppy in for vaccinations at the earliest opportunity to enable them to begin socialisation during the critical development period (ideally not later than 12 to 16 weeks).
Dogs and Phobias • How people influence dogs • We react differently to how members of a canine group would react! Would you ever see a dog do this if another of the group was afraid??
Dogs and Phobias • How people influence dogs • Diet • We are responsible for our dogs’ diets. Many foods can directly contribute to anxious behaviours in dogs through the use of artificial additives and unnecessary colours. • Adding extra protein to complete foods can affect important neurotransmitters actually increasing anxiety in some dogs. • Feeding a food inappropriate for the age of the dog can also increase anxiety in some dogs. E.G. Working dog foods in domestic dogs or feeding older dogs puppy food.
Dogs and Phobias • Main types of Phobias seen in dogs • Noise phobias (fireworks, bangs, clicks, squeaks, TV etc) • Phobias of unusual objects • Phobias of dogs! • Separation anxiety
Dogs and Phobias • How to prevent phobias in your dog • Do not take on a puppy younger than 7 weeks or older than 9/10 weeks (unless the breeder can confirm they have been socialising and habituating your puppy). • Don’t take on a puppy which already appears fearful unless you are prepared to work hard to modify this behaviour and are prepared for potential consequences. • Ensure you habituate and socialise puppies at the earliest opportunity in a well run class. • Do not reinforce fearful behaviour by touching, cuddling, talking calmingly to your dog etc if he is afraid. You risk making the dog more sure that there is something to fear and he may enjoy the fuss he’s getting so repeat the behaviour in the future. This then develops into phobia. • React calmly in all eventualities.
Dogs and Phobias • How to prepare a severely firework phobic dog for Nov 5th • Ideally plan ahead and work on de-sensitising him with a sound effects CD and behaviour modification plan a few months beforehand. • If you have run out of time for de-sensitisation you could try using rescue remedies or prescription by your vet (start a few weeks before Nov 5th. Short term solution only). Avoid tranquilisers such as ACP which inhibit learning. • Prepare a space for your dog to hide in. Make it comfortable and pad it out well with blankets etc. Allow your dog to den without trying to get him out or making a fuss of him. • Make sure all windows are shut and curtains pulled to muffle the noise. • Take out your dog well before fireworks and then well after fireworks to ensure his fear is not further reinforced.
Dogs and Phobias • Case Study – discussion. How a phobia can be resolved • Questions and Answers