How Dogs Can Help Each Other Overcome Fears

At some point, most dog owners will encounter doggie fear.  Thunder storms, crowded streets, or people wearing hats can scare a dog.  We can manage these with treats and training to help calm their fear.  However, sometimes treats and training just don't work and we can't figure out what's triggering the fear.  In cases like these, enlisting the help of another dog just might be the best way to conquer the dog's fear!

Dogs learn important skills from each other from the time they are littermates.  They are keen observers, always learning from us and from each other.  They are also pack animals with a strong instinct to follow.  Dogs can use these instincts to help each other get over their fears.

Phoebe is tiny but mighty!  Hardly anything frightens her.
My two dogs, Isis and Phoebe are very different from one another and for the most part they are not fearful dogs.  However, Isis has a fear that we cannot figure out.  When we visit New York, we stay in a lovely town that has a quaint village as it's central focus.  We love walking into the village; window shopping, outdoor cafes, and just enjoying the vibe.  We want to take Isis and Phoebe on our walks into the village, but for some reason Isis is terrified!  We start our walk to head into the village but as soon as we hit a certain point she stops dead, refusing to go any further.  Is it the noise?  Too crowded? A weird smell?  We don't know!  We tried everything to calm her fear; treats, coaxing, pulling on her leash, taking a different street.  Nothing worked.  Phoebe on the other hand has no such fear.  She loves walking into the village and trots along with her head and tail held high.  We grappled with this issue all last Summer, but this year I decided to make a concerted effort to do something about it so we could all enjoy the village together.

Phoebe checks out a war memorial on our way into the village.  This is the point where Isis refused to go any further.
I remembered an episode of Cesar Milan's show The Dog Whisperer, where a St. Bernard puppy was terrified of stairs!  In the show, Cesar enlisted the help of another dog to help the St. Bernard get over his fear of stairs.  That got me thinking.  I wondered if I could use Phoebe to help Isis get over her fear of walking into the village!  I decided to try it.  Usually, Isis is out in front on our walks - she's a Husky so of course she always insists on being the "Lead Dog".  On this particular walk, however, as we approached the spot where Isis always shuts down, Phoebe and I pulled ahead of my husband and Isis.  I continued walking Phoebe briskly and with purpose.  We did not stop or look back.  As we forged ahead of them, it changed Isis' focus.  Suddenly, she was more focused on following Phoebe than on her fear of the village!  It was amazing, she didn't stop, didn't shut down, she just kept Phoebe in her sights and followed her.  She wasn't about to let Phoebe show her up!  The first day we kept the walk very short, then increased it each day for about 4 days.  Voila!  Just like that, Isis finally conquered her fear of walking into the village - with a little help from Phoebe!

Isis got over her fear of walking into town with a little help from her sister & BFF, Phoebe!
Have you struggled with a fearful or anxious dog?  Does your dog have a fear that another dog might be able to help you with?  Please leave a comment and tell us about it!  We love hearing from you!


Jans Funny Farm said...

That was a great way to resolve that problem. So glad you were able to work it out so you can all walk to the village together.

Unknown said...

What a great solution to the problem!

Murphy said...

Me and Stanley teach stuffs to each other all the time. Glad you are telling the peeps we doggies can do this!

Your pals,

Murphy & Stanley

Two French Bulldogs said...

What an awesome trainer you are Phoebe.we totally believe that we could help each other out
Lily & Edward

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks Jan, yes it worked out really well. Thanks for stopping by!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

It's amazing what dogs can teach each other, I see it w/ my foster dogs too. Thanks for stopping by today, Denise!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Yup! Doggies are super smart & they know how to help each other out! Thanks for visiting us today Murphy & Stanley!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

That's what doggie sisters (& bros) are for! Thanks for stopping by today Lily & Edward!

Unknown said...

So great that you could you Phoebe to help Isis! That is wonderful!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

We were so surprised that little Phoebe could blaze the trail & help her much larger more dominant sister! Thanks for stopping by today!

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