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Helping Puppies Overcome Fear

This past weekend I was reminded that many puppies react to fearful situations in many different and, sometimes, very subtle ways. 

I had the opportunity to work with a 10 week old Cane Corso puppy.  She was a very large and adorable puppy that seemed to have a very quiet disposition.  Her owner also thought she had a quiet nature but she always seemed to be fine with strangers.  I offered her treats on the floor and she just casually sniffed at them.  We placed her on the table to examine her without much fuss from her at all.  As soon as I placed my hand on her belly she turned and snapped... and at that moment I was very thankful she was not yet fully grown.     

She was of such a disposition that I could not easily determine if she was of an aggressive nature or just fearful. After talking with her "dad" she had had some not so good interactions with visitors to the home in the past few weeks.  After taking some time to work with her I was able to determine that she was not aggressive but just very fearful.  She had not read the book on showing us the signs that we usually recognize as fearful behavior in dogs! 

Working very slowly with her and helping her to realize that she was not in a dangerous situation, by using bacon flavored treats, we were able to complete our exam and administer the vaccines she needed without her even realizing that she had been poked with a needle!  I gave her dad some exercises for him to practice with her.  She lives with several small children and he will be teaching them to do these exercises once she has mastered them.  We certainly do not want her pushing the smallest of children around....she already outweighs them.

He left the room and returned a short while later and she was a much different puppy than she had previously been!  She was jumping around and playing with us and the children...and she did not even mind that I pet her belly this time.

If you have a puppy that is showing aggressive tendencies keep in mind that your baby may just be afraid.  We would be happy to consult with you and give you some simple tips to help relieve fear in your new puppy.

Dr. M