Pets & Animal Dog Breeds

Chewy Sees Dead People

As I sit at my computer trying to think of my next 'Thought of the Month', which usually takes longer than a month I'm afraid, I notice Chewy intently watching the path of a rather annoying fly.
Unlike most dogs she isn't pondering the best strategy with which to catch this pesky little bug for, unfortunately, my little Chewy has a fly phobia.
Yes, as soon as a fly enters a room you can pretty much bet that Chewy will leave it.
A friend of mine christened this sudden looking up at the heavens as Chewy 'Seeing Dead People'.
Phobias are quite common in dogs, as many of you may have experienced on a thundery night, or when fireworks go off.
Separation anxiety, fear of traffic, children, vacuum cleaners etc.
are also common phobias.
Some dogs are afraid of other dogs or maybe people, this is usually caused by lack of early socialisation in the first 16 weeks of a puppy's life.
This is why puppy pre-school is of so much importance.
Many people think that if they raise a puppy in a human household with other dogs that these problems will not occur.
But being comfortable with the familiar is not the same thing as being comfortable with the unfamiliar.
It is good practice to expose your puppy to as many new sounds, environments and situations as possible while they are less than four months of age.
A dog's personality is the result of a few factors; genetics, early environment (during the first few weeks of life), and experience.
It is this 'experience' part that we can have some control over by exposure and socialisation.
But should your dog have a phobic reaction to something or someone, desensitisation programs can be successful.
They are not quick easy fixes and, as with human phobias, they take time, patience and a lot of understanding.
There is also no guarantee that the phobia will be removed completely, in some instances you need to learn to recognise and manage situations that cause distress.
Take Chewy for instance, she has gotten a little more tolerant of most flies as she has aged, but every now and then she will still retire to another room should she feel the need.
When I first noticed her fly phobia I tried to study which fly noises upset her with the notion of recording them and slowly introducing them back to her under more pleasant and rewarding circumstances.
But trust my little Chew, it isn't the sound that upsets her, it's certain actions that flies have, and if someone can let me know how I can impersonate a fly I'd love to hear from them.

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