What can cause a dog to develop scaredy-cat syndrome?

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Dogs that are not properly socialized at a young age will sometimes develop what many refer to as the scaredy-cat syndrome. Dogs with scaredy-cat syndrome will often be very cautious, overly aware of their surroundings, hesitant in new situations and fearful of other dogs or humans. A dog who is afraid will also display different physical cues, such as a lowered head, lowered tail and a cowering stance.

A dog who has experienced trauma is also a likely candidate to develop scaredy-cat syndrome. A trauma, particularly if experienced during the early stages of a puppy’s life, can leave a lasting impression. A fearful situation or event that occurs during the first eight to 12 weeks of life can be particularly traumatizing for a puppy, potentially causing them to be more fearful of events in the future.

To deal with a dog whohas scaredy-cat syndrome, ease him into new situations until the issue is dealt with. Trying to suddenly force a dog into new situations will only perpetuate the problem, and could cause the dog to become more afraid. Gradually work up to a comfort level with people, dogs and new places.

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