A frequent question we get asked is, ‘my puppy is very nervous leaving the house. Do you have any advice?’
It’s quite possible that your puppy is experiencing a ‘fear period ‘.
These are perfectly normal and generally occur sometime between 8 and 12 weeks and again around 6 to 14 months of age. However, how you respond to these stages could have an influence on future behaviours as an adult dog.
The first fear period happens just as you bring your puppy home. Things to look for that indicate your puppy is becoming stressed are
· Lip licking
· Running away and hiding
· Tucking in of the tail
· Crouching or lying down
· Refusing to move
· Ears flat and down
· Wide eyes
· Being vocal or whinny
Your puppy can suddenly display these behaviours when he or she has previously been happy and confident, and there is no obvious or apparent reason for these dramatic changes.
Do not panic.
These are quite natural development changes and stages that all puppies will go through. With the right training methods, you can help and support your puppy through gentle introductions to new experiences and environments.
The most important thing is to be patient, and relaxed, and never get angry or frustrated with your puppy.
Do not put pressure on the puppy to say hello to people, other dogs or animals, but allow them to see and watch at a distance where they are relaxed, confident, and happy.
Using positive reinforcement methods and teaching counter-conditioned behaviour, you can build confidence, and through reinforcement of these experiences, the puppy will learn to be a well-balanced adult dog.