The dog deprivation syndrome is characterized by a maladjustment of the animal to its environment; it results in manifestations of excessive fear. It can lead to permanent anxiety, depression or aggression. Treatment of deprivation syndrome in dogs involves behavioral therapy.
A puppy that has fear of all ? A dog that refuses to go out or pulls on a leash to get inside? An animal that growls and hides when you receive guests at home? These manifestations of fear are not insignificant. They can ruin your life and that of your companion. They are above all the sign of a deep malaise. What if your dog has sensory deprivation syndrome?
What Causes Dog Deprivation Syndrome?
The typical portrait of an animal suffering from a deprivation syndrome is classically the puppy adopted a little late (after 4 months) and having been raised in a hypo-stimulating place: kennel, isolated countryside… Placed in its new living environment (urban environment, large family, etc.), the puppy shows signs of fear, even panic, when faced with ordinary stimuli such as the noise of cars or the cries of children. He can also be frightened by other dogs or some humans.
Dog deprivation syndrome is a developmental disorder. The hypo-stimulated puppy during the period of socialization has a sensory filter defect that causes him to panic in the face of unknown but objectively non-dangerous situations.
The period between the birth and the 3 months of the puppy is therefore essential in the development of this disorder. However, sensory deprivation syndrome is also thought to have a genetic basis.
How does sensory deprivation syndrome in dogs manifest?
The deprivation syndrome of the dog results in unjustified manifestations of fear. The animal will seek to flee the object of its fear (vehicle traffic, vacuum, congeners…). Fear can also manifest as uncontrolled urination or diarrhea. In everyday life, the very fearful puppy turns out to be inhibited (few interactions) and hypervigilant (startles at the slightest noise).
Some examples of behavior of a sick animal:
Dog pulling on its leash to get inside during walks
Puppy who cannot potty train because he is too frightened outdoors
Puppy who goes to hide when guests or a dog come to the house
In the long run, the deprivation syndrome can lead to a depressive state. The puppy is also at risk of developing aggressiveness secondary to certain humans or dogs. Indeed, especially after puberty, the dog still takes a little confidence and can start to growl and bark at the object of his fears.
Not all puppies are affected at the same stage. Depending on the intensity of the fear (a few noises or generalized), the prognosis is different. The secondary development of aggressiveness poses the problem of the dangerousness of the dog. Fear bites are often serious.
How to treat deprivation syndrome in dogs?
The treatment of sensory deprivation syndrome in dogs involves behavioral therapy. The new master will have to arm himself with patience and gentleness.
If your puppy shows signs of fear in the presence ofchildren, no question of making him leave school on the day of his arrival! First let him get used to your offspring, then invite some not too rambunctious buddies.
Ditto in case of fear of cars. Start by walking your pup down a quiet street and then increase the difficulty. You can also play a road traffic soundtrack at your home by gradually raising the volume.
It is about associating the object of fear with something pleasant. For example, if your dog is afraid of children, you can give him treats when toddlers come to the house. Then ask the children themselves to offer him the small treats. Always under your supervision of course.
You can do the same on the street to divert your dog’s attention and associate going out with a pleasant moment.
Of course, this is a long-term job. Relapses are possible. Results are best if reconditioning is started before puberty.
When your dog is scared, don’t hug or pet him to reassure him. This behavior is likely to comfort him in his apprehensions. On the contrary, try to be as natural as possible since there is nothing to fear!
If you know a well-rounded adult dog in your life, introduce him to your puppy. Even if he is scared at first, his playful behavior should take over. When the power is on, go for a walk together. There’s nothing better than a calm dog to reassure your puppy and teach him to evolve serenely in your environment.
To reassure your puppy, you can also buy him a collar based on pheromones or food supplements with relaxing properties.
In the most serious cases, it is advisable to call a behavioral veterinarian. Appropriate drug treatments can make the puppy more receptive to behavior therapy.
Breeders also have an important role to play in preventing the onset of this dog deprivation syndrome by selecting confident mothers and providing sufficient stimulation to the puppies before they leave for their new families.
Read also : Phobias in dogs: how to understand them, treat them and avoid them?
Dr Isabelle Vixege