Have you ever met a dog that seems to have a difficult time dealing with day to day activities? A dog that is maybe driven to bouts of panic by the simple introduction of a new person, item or environment? I have and it is most definitely a sad thing. Sad because most phobias in dogs can be rectified by early and continued socialization.
Penny was at our house over the weekend. My daughter has done a great job of socializing her so that she can reach her full potential. But like any dog there will be things that she has not seen before and how you react to those things will play a huge role in how your dog deals with the stimuli before them. Sunday Elsa and Penny were playing in the yard; as you all know it gets pretty crazy. At one point I guess Penny knocked into one of the many flower pots in the yard. I saw Penny startle out of the corner of my eye and turned to see what was up.
The pot was rolling from one side to another. Penny was stretched out as far as she could, investigating. Although she was quite intrigued by the movement of the pot she was also very afraid of it. Her elongated body was ready to bolt if the need should arise. I watched her for a long time while she watched the motion of the pot. It was a small plastic pot and was only rolling an inch or so, back and forth. She was mesmerized by the action and stood fixed on it. Funny how little things can seem so monumental if it has not been seen or witnessed before.
A few moments later Elsa ran up to see what Penny was doing. She ran up and sniffed the pot, sniffed Penny and ran off. This nonchalant reaction from Elsa helped to ease a bit of Penny's concerns. Then my husband went over, picked up the pot and swept the area. His non reactive response also helped to ease little Penny's concerns over the rolling pot. Essentially creating a non issue out of the moment. Good.
Later that same day my other daughter placed a fan in the living room. It is not typically there, it was the fan from my bedroom. Elsa came in to the room and didn't blink at it's presence but when Penny entered the room she jammed on her brakes and startled at the fan. Once again she stretched out her body; part of her wanting to investigate while the other part wanted to run and hide. She's seen fans before but not in the living room at Grandmas house. So she reacted. Elsa once again ran to Penny's side; showing her that this was not something that needed any concern from her. But Penny was not convinced; she barked several times until running past and finally settling to chew a bone. Even then each time she needed to walk past the fan, she gave it a dirty and very suspicious glare.
No matter how much you socialize your dog there will always be something new to experience. I love when Elsa and I come across something that she has never encountered in the past. If you are a regular reader of the Just dogs with Sherri blog then you will know how to react to a new and slightly startling stimuli. Of course each dog is very individual and as such each reaction will be varied. Knowing your dog and how they typically react will help in understanding how best to deal with the experience. But the most important factor in all new things, chill. Make it a non issue, that is as long as it is a non issue. There are of course things that are big issues and a proper response must be taught.
As far as the day to day startling things that will appear on a regular basis; just chill.