When a dog is fearful, he may also exhibit some physical signs that he is unable to control. The following are some of the physiological symptoms a fearful dog may exhibit:
- Dilated pupils or seeing the whites of a dog’s eyes
- Loss of control over bowels or bladder
If you notice these signs in your dog, stop whatever you’re doing and try to determine what the dog is reacting to. You want to help the dog become more comfortable and ensure it’s fear doesn’t escalate into aggression. Once you understand the source of the dog’s fear you can build a positive association to it by teaching that dog that whatever is frightening it is paired with something it likes (food, toy ect.).
Never force your dog to “confront it’s fears” and never assume that the dog is behaving in such a way because it is attempting “to dominate you”. These methods have been shown to cause the Cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the dog to escalate to a point where the dog resorts to it’s final survival technique of shutting down and hoping the threat will move away. It does not teach the dog anything.