Some dogs are naturally shy or skittish, while others may have had bad experiences with other animals that make them fearful in the company of strange dogs. You can help your pup be comfortable and better socialized by getting to the heart of his fear and finding constructive ways to overcome it.
Your Dog’s History
If you take in a stray dog or adopt a pup from a shelter, it might be difficult to learn about his life's history before he came to live with you. However, it's worthwhile to ask a breeder, shelter or previous owner about the dog’s early interactions with other animals. If your dog was the runt of the litter who got pushed around, came from an abusive home or was attacked by another dog, this will help you better understand and deal with fearful behaviors.
If your dog has been in a dog fight, you can understand your pup’s natural fear of being around other canines. A way to combat this fear is to build your dog’s confidence though obedience training and carefully monitored socialization and interaction with known gentle dogs. This can be done on your own, employing the help of a friend or neighbor with a calm animal or through an organized training program with a dog behavioral specialist.
High Anxiety or Depression
Your dog may be suffering from anxiety that makes him fearful of other animals. There could be an underlying health problem that exacerbates the problem that should be evaluated by your vet. Your dog may benefit from antianxiety medication, training or even a change in diet and exercise routine. Your dog could also be depressed, which again, can be treated through medication or behavioral therapy.
Don't Force It
If your dog is terrified of being around other canines, don't press the issue or force him into situations that could make the condition worse. Avoid dog parks, don't allow your dog to be left outside unsupervised, and when you walk him on a leash, avoid contact with other dogs, at least initially. While it is beneficial to help your pup overcome this fear and anxiety, forcing him to be around other animals when he is frightened can make him mistrust you and heighten his levels of anxiety.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.