Hello, I have a small dog who has somehow become scared when we run through the park. She is a small dog, and this never use to happen. I’m not sure of the cause. Is there something I can do? Thanks, Mary.
Hi Mary, thank you so much for dropping us this query. I understand the frustration and worry that you are feeling must be horrible, for you to drop us a message here does show how much your dog means to you.
While it is normal for some dogs to be scared or terrified when heading out, it will not be normal in your dog’s case since she used to love the runs till recently. You are somewhat right that is can be due to some scares around the vicinity, but there might be some underlying issues that might be causing the issue.
From your dog’s case, it could be a negative experience that she had when she ran in the forest. Also, did you check on your dog to see if she had suffered any injury? It is very possible that she is refusing to head out because she suffered an injury while out in the forest and that is causing her anxiety.
During this period of time, if your dog refuses to head out and tremble, you should not try to force them to head out, or try to carry the dog and place her in the forest as these will cause the furkid to develop a negative feeling about the place. Rather, you should find ways to desensitize her negative feelings towards the forest.
For starters, you could try to bring her out for regular walks right outside of your house. This does serve two purposes.
To observe for injury: you can check the way she is walking to see if she is limping or not.
To check for trauma: If the negative incident is causing the dog to tremble even during the normal walks, then it does require you to approach the problem differently. In the above two cases, if you notice that the dog is limping, or her gait is unusual, you should bring her to the vet immediately for attention as there is an underlying issue that is causing your dog to limp.
To address the trauma issue, the whole idea of bringing her out for walks around the vicinity of your house is to check if she is afraid of walking, or just afraid of walking in the forest. If your dog is ok with walking outside of the house, then we can more or less deduce that the root cause of the issue lies in the forest.
It is worthwhile to note, that if the anxiety or fear is cause by an external problem, then thankfully the issue can be solved. All you need to do is to show love and encouragement to the dog. While you should not be forcing them outdoors, you can slowly desensitize the situation for them. This means bringing her out for walks in the nearby parks and letting her run, albeit on a leash this time round so that she can enjoy the outdoors again. The whole idea of putting her on a leash is so that you can control her movements, since it can be a possibility that she could be injured or attacked by a wild animal during the runs in the forest.
Hope the above helps!