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Family & Pets

How to help your pet conquer their phobias

How to help your pet conquer their phobias

We all have our little fears and so do our pets but sometimes our pet’s fears can seem a little silly to us. If only we could tell them that there’s nothing to be afraid of (we’re guilty of doing this anyway but for some reason our pets don’t listen!). So whether your animal refuses to step on smooth tiles or trembles with fear every time you switch on the vacuum, here are a few steps you can take to help ease your furry friends stress and anxiety.

How do pets develop phobias?

Nobody is born terrified of objects/places/people but it generally only takes one bad experience for an animal to always associate negativity and fear with that particular thing.  

What shouldn’t you do?

When your furry friend is scared and anxious it’s natural to want to give them a soothing pat and cuddle. While you might be easing their stress you are also reinforcing your pet’s fear. Your comfort is telling them their fear is justified and they will continue to feel terrified.

What can you do?

Here’s how to help your pet conquer three common terrors. Like overcoming any fear it will take a lot of patience on your part to coax your furry friend out of their phobias.

Vacuum

To many people’s furry friend the vacuum is the most monstrous of all monsters with its loud unpleasant noises and its frightening tendency to follow their owner everywhere like it’s about to attack. Whether your pooch growls or your kitty hightails it to the safe spot under the bed, here are a few ways to ease their terror.

  • Remove the mystery from the monster by leaving it out and near something they love like their food bowl or toys. Getting your pet used to the sight of the vacuum when it’s not turned on will help them see it’s not too bad.
  • Next step is getting your pet used to the vacuums movement (without it turned on). Walk around with the vacuum near your pet so they can become accustomed to it.
  • Feed your pet treats and pat them while the vacuum is near to help them associate it with a positive experience.
Floors

Perhaps the most confusing of fears is when your furry friend simply refuses to step its paws on certain floor surfaces. The phobia most likely developed as result of falling and slipping on that particular surface, so now they simply refuse to step on it for fear it will happen again. Here’s how to overcome it:

  • Place their food bowl at the end of the floor.
  • Gradually place the bowl further into the floor area. This will slowly force them to step on the surface. 
  • Make sure your floor is free of any water so your furry friend doesn’t slip again! You can even wax the floor to give it extra grip.
Certain people 

It can be embarrassing when your pet growls and hisses when a friend comes over to visit. It seems like pets can be racist, sexist, ageist or even size-ist! Even people wearing big hats or costumes can spook some pets. Of course, they don’t know any better and the problem most likely stems from your pet either never having seen that type of person or associating them with a negative experience from their past. Here’s what to do:

  • Pinpoint the problem. Are they afraid of people of certain age, race, sex or height? Is it the grandchildren or perhaps it’s your extremely tall and lanky friend?
  • Invite that friend over and slowly desensitise your pet to that particular person.
  • Get your pet to bond with your friend over a walk, a play with toys or let them feed your furry friend.