Your dog’s aberrant behavior can be difficult to live with. It is painful to watch your pet’s lopsided emotional state drive them to over react to normal everyday life. It is heartbreaking to know your puppy or dog is unable to find peace and happiness, because they perceive everything as a threat.
Neurotic puppies, if not helped, will become neurotic dogs. The first 20 weeks of a puppy’s life, shapes the emotional foundation for a well-adjusted or mal-adjusted dog. Puppies need to be exposed to as many new situations as possible. If they over-react, ignore them. If you pamper them at this age, you will most definitely have a neurotic adult dog! Share lots of positive experiences together. Show them by your behavior, there is nothing to worry about.
Other than serious medical problems, the most common causes of neurosis in pets are: lack of socialization, adverse reactions to their diet, injury, trauma, neglect, abuse, and believe it or not, over protection by a well-meaning owner.
Do not be over protective! It only reinforces your dog’s abnormal behavior. Your pet receives the wrong message from you. You are confirming what they misconceive as a threat, really is something to be concerned about. Ignore them. They are watching you for cues. If you behave laid-back, they will follow. If you respond to their aberrant behavior in anger or if you coddle them, they will react in kind.
It is normal for dogs to over react from time to time. What you need to watch for are extremes and duration. If your pet exhibits any or all of the following signs, they need help. Watch for anxiety, displaced aggression or anger, over protectiveness, hyper behaviors, fears/phobias, depression, and stress. Observe how they behave in unfamiliar situations/locations, with other dogs or people they are not familiar with and loud noises.
Is your pet constantly on guard? Are they relentlessly licking, barking, whining, pacing, growling/snapping, restless or constantly hiding?
Their lack of self-control and coping skills should be a heads-up for you to follow up with a visit to your veterinarian. The answer may be something as simple as medication, a diet change, or hormone replacement.
Once medical issues are removed from the equation, you can help your pet by getting out on short field trips. Keep the trips short and fun. As your dog learns to relax, make them longer and with more challenges. Socialization is a wonderful way to desensitize them. Enroll them in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free Puppy Kindergarten or Obedience class. There they will meet more well-adjusted puppies and dogs. Dogs are fantastic teachers to other dogs.
More exercise! Interact with your dog. Take them to a dog park or beach. Keep them busy and tire them out. Walk your dog. It’s an enjoyable way to bond with them and it desensitizes them to change. Mix it up. Find new locations. Keep them guessing as to where this walk will take them.
Massages works wonders. Do it yourself or have them professionally massaged. The results will amaze you!
Bottom line: Their time on this rock is short. You can help your dog relax and enjoy life. Be patient. It’s not going to happen overnight. Get out there and do interesting and fun things with them. Prove to your dog the world is not out to get them and good things happen when they learn to relax.