I imagine you envision the look of fear in your dog, differently to how I do. Fear by definition in the English Dictionary goes as follows:
‘An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm’ OR ‘to be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful’
This part, I feel people understand well enough. The problem with fear based barking is to the human eye, and with no knowledge on canine body language. The behaviour being presented through the barking looks more aggressive than scared. Leaving it hard for someone to comprehend how the dog is actually feeling.
There are two types of fear in the dogs world. Fear submission. This is the one that most people can spot and relate too. It’s pretty obvious when a dog is cowering and looking worried, that they’re scared, right?
Another form of fear in dogs, is Fear Defensive. This is the one people often struggle to comprehend. The dog gets that scared, where they try to fend off the problem. What is the only thing a dog has and can use to defend themselves?
That’s right, it’s their mouth.
This fear defensive type of barking is more common than you may first realise. With a wide array of incorrect diagnosis’ on why a dog is barking, is a big factor for people dismissing and jumping to the wrong conclusions on why their dog is barking.
But it isn’t just incorrect knowledge on creating a barking dog. There are many other factors that can lead to a dog becoming scared and feeling the need to protect themselves.
I won’t go through them all because I don’t want to send you sleep or confuse you. But let’s start with what I consider to have played a huge role in creating a fearful barking dogs.
A new law aimed at cracking down on puppy farms in England is now here. The legislation known as Lucy’s Law, will ban the sale of kittens and puppies from third parties, making buyers deal with breeders directly.
This is to ensure puppies and kittens get given the best possible start in life. Puppies are cute, there is no doubt about that. The problem with poorly bred puppies is they are already set up for an unsuccessful life. If you didn’t already know, then genetics play a HUGE role in how an animal behaves.
How to create a fearful barking dog, is one of the chapters in my 3 Steps To Silence book. In this section I share my three top things, I believe contribute to this problem. Top of the list is bad breeding.
I have never been a fan of people breeding just because they feel like trying it. Perhaps they need a few extra quid in their pocket or maybe they think their dog has to have a litter because of some old wives tale still floating around. I dunno, but what I do know is I thought dogs had to have a litter before they were spayed too.
What I didn’t do, was just put a male to my girl and have pups. What I did do was research further. And I’m talking for weeks.
I found out some interesting things. If a puppies parents have been stressed. Are nervous. Have behaviour issues themselves then guess what…
The puppies are more likely gonna have those issues too! It’s just like a child turning out to be like their parents. You can’t escape DNA!
Some of the things I found out quite literally led to me telling myself off multiple times over.
Did I have the funds in case of things going wrong? We all know how expensive a normal vets bill can be, never mind an emergency operation with a bitch and how ever many puppies.
How would I cope if Skye incurred a problem and she didn’t survive the operation? I didn’t want to lose my girl!
What if everything went okay and the puppies arrived. Did I have the time to spend cleaning up after them? Ensuring they all had their wormers and flea treatments on time? Getting up at stupid hours during the night to check on them? Making sure I had the time to CORRECTLY socialise and teach them about normal household sounds, environments, children, adult dogs, being handled so as not to cause too much stress.
The list is endless. And I said Fuck that!
I often see pet dog owners at the end of their wits and struggling to manage their dogs behaviour. I see this all of the time. But what tends to get forgotten is why are they doing it?
Why is your dog barking? Why are they not listening to you when you call them? Why do they constantly drag you on the lead. Why? Why? WHY?
Dogs that are poorly bred, doesn’t mean to say we love them any less. I have two mongrel dogs, one having zero socialisation phase for being kept in a stable until 16 weeks of age, and another who was shipped from pillar to post in the early days, had a stressed puppy farm mother and was poorly as a puppy where nothing got done. Meaning they both have their issues I will never be able to fully resolve.
Which leads me on to this. There are some things in canine behaviour you can’t fix, and will only ever be able to manage. Or worse case scenario, I know of behaviourists who have advised for dogs to be put to sleep because the behaviour is too far gone and they damage irreversible. That’s worse case scenario, but that needed saying. I.e. Don’t let the barking keep getting worse. But this isn’t the case for all dogs.
If you know your dog didn’t have the best start in life. Through breeding or upbringing, then in my opinion, you need to making even more of an effort to help them cope in our ever increasing, chaotic world.
I will never be able to change Digger’s desires to grab hold of moving species and try to kill them. It is embedded deep into his DNA as the thing he would always instinctively choose to do. But I can manage it and I can teach something else to do instead. Which will lesson the chances of him wanting to run off and hunt.
To hear the ban on puppy farms was like a breath of fresh air to me. These money grabbing arseholes have been creating problematic dogs all over the world for many years. Dogs are less confident these days, they are quicker to react and I put a lot of that, down to bad breeding. Though it isn’t the only thing.
People who have puppy farmed dogs, aren’t bad people. Some just didn’t know any better at the time. Others knowing the risks and problems involved, yet took the dog on board anyway. I’ve been both.
It’s important to understand your dog isn’t just doing these things to be a pain in the ass. A wise dog owner, learns and then takes on board the problem as something to now try and fix or at the very least make easier to manage.
Until next time amigo,