29th April 2019
There is still little knowledge on the emotional development of young dogs out there.
Fear Periods, or heightened periods of alertness as I like to call them, take place at certain developmental points in a dog’s development. They do not necessarily cause fear alone but stimulate the vital cautionary tool that dogs need in life.
In street, feral or wild canines these periods are more pronounced and happen very quickly. They are a developing safety response towards anything that represents potential danger or stress. There are times where the main ingredient concerning the dog is choice, what it chooses to do in terms of exploration, avoiding, defending or confronting a situation.
They are crucial to surviving. In domestic dogs these developmental periods are little known, if they are known they are not always fully understood. When we recognise them the choice to expose, train, judge a situation, allow the use of space, understanding containment, and the restriction of equipment in a situation can determine what future behaviour and associations are being shaped in our presence and by our actions.
Considering the dogs natural use of choice in such a predicament is a handy human tool. If they choose to avoid something once that does not mean they will make that same choice next time. There is a time to process information, assess and weigh things up for a dog. They need to have the choice to do that. Safety is their priority.
The first 2 years of their lives vary from individual to individual when these periods start to heighten. Paying close attention and knowing when to rest out when you spot the over cautious alertness can eliminate a lot of potentially reactive behaviors in the future.