Dkrainwater’s Weblog

Environmental Phobias and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Posted on: January 26, 2009


Environmental phobias can cause your dog to behave differently than when the stimuli are not present. An environmental phobia could be something as simple as thunder or rain. If your dog whines or behaves differently, do not worry. Check and see what is causing the behavior.

For example, a Jack Russell terrier is usually a tenacious breed that is not afraid of anything. If that same brave little dog starts to hide, cry, or seek undo attention from the owner, then there could be an environmental issue around. One such instance of a Jack Russell being afraid was smoke. Every time there was cook out or the owner burned something in the stove, the poor dog would go in the basement and was afraid to come out.

If your dog is older, some people will take this type of behavior change and associate it with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Behavior change is only a symptom of the disorder and environmental causes the same symptoms. Your older dogs hearing might be going and the sound of thunder might have them confused. The frequencies that they hear may be different and they don’t know how to compensate for the change. They will react out of fear and with fear comes behavioral changes.

Other phobias might include a fear of water. This is heart breaking for hunters when there bird dogs suddenly fear the water. This fear may arise when the dog feels like they may not be able to swim as well as they used to. Their body is stiffer and they may suffer from joint pain. This situation would lend itself as dangerous in their minds and the fear would be natural. That is why it is imperative to find the stimulus to the fear and not look at other things until you do.

Other fears that might affect the behavior in your canine can range from fire, allot of movement around them, or just new people. Remember with fear usually comes aggression. Your dog’s behavior can change dramatically with fear. They just don’t know how to react and the flight or fight behavior that they are born with comes out. If you do find the stimulus of your dog’s behavior and you can’t remove it, be patient with your dog and help them through their stressful times. Comfort them and let them know everything is alright. If the stimulus can’t be found, then it is time to look at other reasons for the environmental fear.

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