how to overcome your puppy’s fears
Even when they are given all of the love in the world, your puppy friend may well show some signs of anxiety in certain situations. Naturally, you’ll want to be able to reassure your little pupper in these instances, but what could be causing them to worry? Let’s have a look at some of the most common things a puppy might be fretting about.
separation anxiety in puppies.
This can manifest in various ways, such as scratching at doors, having accidents in the home, barking or howling for no apparent reason. According to advice from Purina, this can be helped by gradually introducing the puppy to different lengths of time spent alone, developing a schedule they can get used to, encouraging them to go to the loo before you leave them alone. You could try a period of quiet alone time for them before you go out, which would lessen the worry of you leaving suddenly and help them when them while alone.
puppies travelling in vehicles.
Travelling via means other than their four little paws can be a source of some distress in young puppies. Be patient while they are getting used to being in a crate or in the back of the car as the sense of motion may need a period of adjustment. There are methods we use at Paws in Work to help make a huge difference, such as your pups being at a height that makes them able to see what’s going on outside.
When getting your pup into a vehicle, give them some praise and some fuss. We have exciting new toys and a super comfy bed for them to get comfy in and nod off within minutes! They could also take along a familiar blanket or a favourite toy so there is something familiar with them. We want the puppies to be happy and also reinforce with their owners that we have the welfare of their pups at the forefront of what we do.
It’s good to get your puppy used to the car early on so that they don't result in your puppy crying, most likely with early visits to the vet for their jabs. Granted, going for jabs isn’t a fun experience, let alone for puppies who are getting used to the idea of being in a vehicle, but those early experiences are a crucial first step towards helping your puppy not to fear car journeys. Remember to praise them throughout the journey to put them at ease.
socialising your puppy with other dogs.
Other dogs can be a scary thing to young pups, and that’s understandable. Think how big they must seem to little eyes! Once your beautiful puppy has its own lead and a safe collar, don’t be shy about taking them out and meeting other dogs. The Blue Cross say that puppy socialisation with others in a positive manner should be encouraged from an early age wherever possible so as to help them build their confidence when outside. Just make sure you have covered your pup’s safety by having their vaccinations in check beforehand.
socialising your puppy with people.
Your puppy may be nervous around different people. Let’s face it, the outside world can be unpredictable at the best of times, full of strange sounds and cars and lights and different things that aren’t encountered in the home. Reassuring your puppy about other people can be as simple as walking calmly alongside them when out - thus showing you’re fine with the people as well - or encouraging pleasant interactions when people undoubtedly want to come over and pet the gorgeous little friend you’re proudly walking!
The Blue Cross rightly point out that as your puppy will spend most of their time with humans, this is the most important part of your socialisation programme for your pup and should be experienced as early as possible in the right environment. At Paws in Work, we help to socialise your pups in a way that has their care and wellbeing at heart, socialising in controlled and clean environments, perfect for them to do some learning away from home.
bathing your puppy.
Like many kids, puppies may well be reluctant to have a bath, but just like with kids, once they’re in there, it can be fun! Your little pup may be concerned about the rushing water and the bubbles and the bath itself, after all, they’ve seen you submerged in it and may wonder why! Puppies are generally ok to be bathed after the age of 3 months according to Daily Puppy. Before then they can be bathed if they’re really stinky or get dirty, but for the most part, their mum will take care of that.
According to the Kennel Club, start the bathing routine by giving your dog a good brush so there are no knots or tangles. When starting to bathe your puppy, reassure them while you gently start to get them wet, adding a good doggy shampoo gradually to get them used to the smell and the feel of it. Wash their face separately from the rest of their body, as this can be a bit worrying for them at first. Keep reassuring them and speaking in gentle tones while you rinse the shampoo out. Carry on telling your puppy what a good dog they are while you gently dry them, and once dry, make sure there are hugs to let your puppy know what a great job they did.
taking your puppy to the vet.
A vet’s surgery is a very different environment to the home. It may have different animals and other dogs in the waiting room, the smells are different and there may be some distress when your canine companion is being examined. According to Pets at Home, it’s best to instil a positive acceptance of vets and the surgery itself from an early age. This way you can quash any fears of going there in the future. Visiting the vet isn’t just a matter of health for a puppy - its an essential step in their socialising and as such needs to be accepted as somewhere it’s fine to go to. Vets will need to touch and examine all areas of your pup during checks, so get them used to this from a young age so they are comfortable with your vet doing it as well.
help your dog find their own space.
Young dogs can feel anxious if they don’t have somewhere to call their own in the home. Even if it’s just a dog bed with special toys or a loved blanket on it, a dog needs somewhere to retreat to. Don’t we all have a special spot we go to when life gets a bit much? Your puppy needs one too! Pets4homes say it should be comfy and somewhere a little out of the way in the home so your puppy can feel safe and happy in their little space. When you first set up the space, leave some favourite treats there to encourage your puppy to visit it and associate it with something nice.
There are lots of things that may concern your puppy. The best thing is to keep a look-out for the signs of what may be distressing them and think of how those issues can be gradually dealt with. Let your little doggy get used to things in their own time and they won’t feel pressured to deal with scary situations.
Whatever is worrying your puppy, you can work it out together, making your bond even stronger.