On my son’s 7th birthday, we made the mistake of getting him a skateboard. Little did we know that our dog would react so poorly to it, barking and displaying aggression whenever he heard the wheels rattling on the concrete. I was curious about why dogs have this fear and anxiety towards skateboards, so I did some research on how to desensitize them. In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned and how we managed to resolve our dog’s aggression and barking problem.
Why Dogs Have a Strong Aversion to Skateboards
Dogs often react negatively to skateboards due to their instinctual chase response. The sound of skateboard wheels on concrete can trigger their defense mechanism, making them believe there’s a threat approaching. This fear is further amplified by the unusual and unsettling noise that skateboards produce, which can irritate the sensitive hearing of dogs.
Different Reactions to Skateboards
Based on our experience and information from other dog owners, it’s not uncommon for dogs to despise skateboards. Some dogs may go into a barking frenzy, while others exhibit pure fear and anxiety, trembling in its presence. If your dog displays aggression or fear towards skateboarders, it can become a problem when you encounter riders during walks or outings. It’s crucial to address this behavior to prevent potential harm to others and ensure your dog’s well-being.
Desensitizing Your Dog to Skateboards
To help your dog overcome their fear of skateboards, it’s important to show them that these objects are not threatening. Start by introducing a skateboard into your home environment, placing it in a corner of the living room. The goal is to familiarize your dog with the skateboard’s presence and make it seem more appealing. Treats can be a useful tool in this process.
Begin by giving your dog treats while they are in the same room as the skateboard. Gradually, move the treats closer to the skateboard until they are on top of it. If your dog feels comfortable eating treats off the skateboard, it’s a positive sign that they associate it with something positive.
In addition, you can enlist the help of a skateboarder you know to ride slowly towards you and your dog during walks. Instruct your dog to sit and stay as the skateboarder passes by. Reward your dog with treats and praise if they remain calm and do not react. With consistent practice, your dog will learn to sit quietly and allow skateboarders to pass without incident.
Dealing with Sound Sensitivity
If your dog is primarily reacting to the sound of skateboards, you can try desensitizing them to the noise. Play recordings or videos of skateboard wheels hitting the pavement at a low volume, gradually increasing it over time. Reward your dog with treats and praise if they listen to the sounds without reacting negatively. The goal is to help your dog associate the noise with positive reinforcements, gradually acclimating them to the real-life sounds they encounter outside.
Addressing Aggression Towards Skateboarders
It’s important to train your dog out of aggressive behavior towards skateboarders as soon as possible. Yelling at your dog in this situation will only confuse them further. Instead, use firm and clear commands like “NO” or “leave it” and redirect their attention away from the skateboarder.
To acclimate your dog to skateboarders, expose them to the presence of riders in a controlled environment, such as a skate park. Begin at a distance that your dog feels comfortable with, rewarding them with treats when they obey commands and remain calm. Gradually move closer to the action while monitoring your dog’s behavior. If aggression or anxiety arises, return to the previous distance where they were calm.
Recognizing Signs of Anxiety in Dogs
It can be challenging to distinguish between aggression and fear or anxiety in dogs. Dogs may exhibit signs of anxiety when faced with skateboards, such as shaking, whining, excessive barking, dilated pupils, tucking their tails between their legs, excessive paw licking, or shedding of hair for no apparent reason. It’s important not to exacerbate the problem by yelling or punishing them, as this reinforces their fear and stress. Anxious behavior can stem from early life experiences or a lack of socialization and exercise.
By utilizing the tips mentioned above, we were able to desensitize our dog to skateboards in just seven days. Our dog is now fearless and no longer barks at skateboarders. Remember, it takes patience and consistency to help your dog overcome their fear and aggression towards skateboards. With proper training and positive reinforcement, you can ensure a harmonious relationship between your dog and the skateboarding world.
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