Dogs fear of new environments & people

Neophobia in dogs

Dogs tend to like their routine, some even more so than others do. How well your dog reacts to new environment and people is likely to be linked to how well he was socialized as puppy.

Puppies that get enough pleasant exposure to new people, animals, places, and objects during the critical socialization period (which lasts from 3 to 16 weeks of age) are less likely to be afraid of new situations when they grow up.

Well-socialized dog can still develop a fear of new situations, e.g. after some particular bad experience of something. Some breeds are also more prone to nervousness and fearful behaviour than others are, i.e. fearful dog by nature. 

Scared anxious dog being comforted by his owner

Neophobia in dogs

Neophobia in dogs is fear, or avoidance, of new things. Neophobic dogs show fearful behaviour in new environments, or around unfamiliar objects or animals, they have never seen before.

Neophobia is usually linked to lack of socialization, as it specific to how the dog reacts to things that he has not experienced in the past, e.g. if the dog is flying for the first time or has never seen a horse before. Dog that fears unfamiliar person or dog, does not suffer from neophobia as he has met other people and dogs before.

Still, many dogs can easily deal with new things and situations that they were not exposed to as puppies. While others have serious problem handling them, i.e. are neophobic.

Neophobic dogs thrive best with a rigid, unvarying schedule of daily events. If you have a neophobic dog, try to feed, groom, and exercise him at the same time every day.

It can be difficult to rehabilitate neophobic dogs, but treatment includes some form of dog behaviour modification techniques, like systematic desensitization and counterconditioning. You may want to seek professional help (canine behaviourist) for best results.

Some neophobic dogs may benefit from natural calming aid for dogs, like maxxicalm. It does not cure neophobia in dogs, but it can help neophobic dogs to cope better with new situations. For best results, implement also rigid routine and follow your canine behaviourist advice.

Common situations that cause fear in dogs

All kind of situations can cause anxiety and fear in dogs, whether they are neophobic or not. These are some of the most common ones:

- Fireworks

- Thunderstorms

- Vet Visits

- Grooming saloons

- Moving houses

- Dog sitters

- Car journeys

- Flying

We look at those situations in separate articles, but in principle, there are similar tactics that work best for dealing with any fear the dog may have. They include changes in the dog's environment, looking at your behaviour, the use of dog behaviour modification techniques, and the use of dog anxiety medication, or calming aids for dogs.

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Balance your dog’s behaviour from the inside

As dog owners, we know which situations upset our dogs. For some it’s being left alone, for others it’s trips to the vet, thunderstorms, or unexpected visitors.

Whether it’s part of their nature or an understandable reaction to difficult life circumstances, such as rescue dogs that were previously abused, maxxicalm can be an integral part of helping you create more balanced behaviour in your dog.

  Read more  

 The benefits

  • Helps anxious and nervous dogs relax during stressful situations
  • Integral part of a behaviour modification program to create balance
  • Relaxation without drowsiness