Diamonds in the Ruff
THERE COULD BE MONSTERS!
Helping the dog who startles easily.
Remember when YOU were a kid?
Monsters under the bed! Hands that could grab your ankles under the basement stairs! (It's really bad after watching a scary movie!) It's just our immature nervous systems alerting us to potential danger. Fear and caution are good things. They keep us alive.
Humans go through fearful periods. As we mature and gain life experience, we aren't as likely to panic over imaginary things as we were as children. But if you've felt that jolt up the back of your neck when that car almost ran that stop sign, you have experienced a startle reflex. There's a primal physical response, you gasp or scream, your muscles jolt, your heart races, you may get goose bumps. Some of us are jumpier than others! The chemical dump in our system lingers awhile. You may tremble or shiver. You might break down in tears or get really mad. You might really need a hug - or you might really NOT want to be restrained and need to "walk it off" in order to feel better.
Canine Fear Periods
Dogs generally experience two normal fear periods in their lives: one at 8-11 weeks and another between 6-14 months. During these periods, puppies become more sensitive and aware of the world around them and may be more concerned about new objects or experiences. Both fear periods last around 2-3 weeks and can happen overnight and unexpectedly. Smaller breeds tend to experience the second fear period sooner than larger breeds. Their response to a jolt of adrenaline is similar to ours.
Startle Response - Wikipedia
In animals, including humans, the startle response is a largely unconscious defensive response to sudden or threatening stimuli, such as sudden noise or sharp movement, and is associated with negative affect. Usually the onset of the startle response is a startle reflex reaction. The startle reflex is a brainstem reflectory reaction (reflex) that serves to protect vulnerable parts, such as the back of the neck (whole-body startle) and the eyes (eyeblink) and facilitates escape from sudden stimuli. It is found across many different species, throughout all stages of life. A variety of responses may occur depending on the affected individual's emotional state, body posture, preparation for execution of a motor task, or other activities. The startle response is implicated in the formation of specific phobias.
It really is NOTHING ... but the nervous system has been triggered and is sounding the alarm!
THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT.
You set your coffee cup on the table or drop your shoe and your dog loses their mind. If the knock at the door signals stranger-danger, anything that resembles a knock can trigger a startle-bark, 'call in the troops' response!
IT COULD BE MONSTERS!
You step in the doorway, backlit by the porch light. Your dog loses their mind. "It's me!" you call. He can't hear you over his own barking.
A STRANGER IS BREAKING IN!
SHADOWS or NOVEL OBJECTS.
That wasn't there before, and I don't know what it is.
IT COULD JUMP OUT AND GET ME!
A family member's or even his own. Not just mirrors. In a living room window, the oven door. Your dog spots movement and loses their mind.
SOMEONE IS LOOKING IN THE WINDOW!
THERE'S A STRANGE DOG IN THE KITCHEN!
Some can be easy to spot because they are things people do! Facial expressions - widened eyes, wrinkled brow, lips pulled back. Holding very still while trying to look without moving - in dogs it creates what is commonly called "whale eye" or we might call it "side eye".
Crouching, slinking with head and tail held low and shoulders hunched. Looking for an escape route. Running away, hiding. We get goosebumps on our bare skin. Their hair stands on end - their hackles (the ridge of hair down their spine) raised like a Halloween cat.
BEHAVIORAL RESPONSE - FREEZE, FIGHT, FLIGHT, FOOL AROUND, DISPLACEMENT BEHAVIORS
LEVEL OF RESPONSE
Evaluations & behavior consultations are available.
Please contact Travis Byrnes - 710-7697 or email email@example.com to schedule an evaluation. He will give you some handling tips and assess whether your dog is right for a group class or whether private one-on-one help or semi-private lessons for special-needs dogs would be a better choice to get you off on the right foot.
Depending on your particular needs, we will help you determine whether you should continue your training in private lessons or enroll in a specialized class to best address your concerns.
Our goal is to help you help your dog to feel more comfortable, so they can have a better quality of life and be a safer companion for you and your family.
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