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Overcoming Puppies’ Fear Stages

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Overcoming Puppies’ Fear Stages

Table of Contents:

  • Understanding Puppy Fear Stages
  • General Characteristics of the Puppy Fear Periods
  • What Are the Puppy Fear Stages?
  • Solutions for Dog Owners
  • Final Thoughts



You've added a puppy to your family and are enjoying watching them grow. Their playful antics and curiosity never fail to bring a smile to your face, and it seems like your furry family member has fully adjusted to life in their new home. Then, suddenly, everything seems to change. Your once friendly dog now seems insecure and anxious. Sound familiar?

While unexpected fearfulness and nervousness in young dogs may be alarming, the phenomenon is actually very common and a normal part of a dog's social development. In fact, most dogs go through two periods of fear: puppy fear stage 1 and stage 2.

Eventually, dogs do typically grow out of their fearfulness, but there are things that you can do in the meantime. If you have a scared dog, how to help them best will vary based on your puppy's breed, temperament, and other factors. In this article, we'll take a closer look at puppy fear periods and explore some potential solutions that may help soothe your fur baby.


Understanding Puppies' Fear Stages


Just like people, dogs go through various stages of development as they grow. Not only do their bodies change, but their minds and social skills also develop over time. Fear periods in puppies play an important role in both early life and adolescence. As dogs become more social, they must learn about the world around them and determine what is safe and what is not.

The two puppy fear stages occur at key times of brain development when dogs are most sensitive to external stimuli. Although nearly all dogs go through fear periods, the way dogs behave during them varies based on a variety of factors, including their breed, personality and upbringing.

Because the fear periods are a biological developmental stage, there is no way to prevent them. The good news is that scared puppies will eventually grow out of the "puppy scared of other dogs" periods, and when they do, they'll be more prepared to socialize with other dogs and with the humans in their lives.


General Characteristics of Puppy Fear Periods


Identifying when your puppy is going through one of the fear periods is an important first step in helping them through these key developmental stages. Some common behaviors and characteristics exhibited by dogs during the puppy fear stages include:

  • Displaying fearfulness of objects, even familiar ones like toys that make noise or their food and water bowls
  • Longer than normal extended recovery period after being startled compared to the way they would usually react
  • Acting afraid around unfamiliar people, animals or objects
  • Overreacting to stimuli, particularly loud noises like the vacuum cleaner or a small kitchen appliance
  • Avoiding objects, people or animals that startled or frightened them in the past

Keep in mind that your puppy may not display all of these characteristics, as each dog reacts to the fear periods differently. How long dogs continue to exhibit signs of fearfulness also varies. Generally, bigger dogs mature more slowly and may move through the puppy fear stages more slowly than smaller ones, but this may not be true for every dog.


What Are the Puppy Fear Stages?


As previously mentioned, there are two puppy fear stages. Let's take a look at each one.


Fear Period Stage 1: 8 to 12 Weeks


Typically occurring when puppies are 8 to 12 weeks of age, fear period stage 1 often coincides with when puppies arrive in their forever homes. At this stage, puppies still have a lot to learn about the world, and they may try to avoid unfamiliar things, particularly when acclimating to new surroundings.

For example, your puppy may refuse to go up the stairs or go out of their way to avoid walking past a noisy fan. It's also common for puppies to be wary of meeting new people during this stage.


Fear Period Stage 2: 6 to 14 Months


Fear period stage 2 usually affects adolescent puppies that are 6 to 14 months old. It is during this stage that your puppy's fight or flight response matures, leading to increased sensitivity to stimuli and a heightened sense of alertness. Your dog may take longer to recover from being startled in this stage.

For example, if someone pops a balloon at a birthday party, a puppy that would have stopped playing for 30 seconds or a minute before might suddenly run and hide under the bed or need five or six minutes to go back to what they were doing. Puppies may also exhibit new fears of familiar things during this stage.


Solutions for Dog Owners


As a puppy parent, there are ways that you can help your dog as they progress through the fear stages. Training and holistic solutions can be beneficial during the fear stages in puppies, but it's important to understand that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach that will suit every dog. It can take some trial-and-error experimentation to discover what works for your pooch, and the following are some things that you can try.




Training can be a beneficial way to address the fear period in puppies. However, it's important that you take the right approach. Being too stern or harsh could actually worsen the fear response. Instead, let your puppy lead the way. When they show signs of fearfulness, praise and reward them for looking at the object or person from a distance.

Allow your puppy to approach the source of their fear at their own pace and allow them to interact with it in whatever way they choose. Limit the time that your puppy is exposed to the trigger and remain close by throughout the training to help them feel safe and secure.


Holistic Solutions


Holistic approaches can also be beneficial for puppies experiencing fear periods. Soothing music and white noise may be beneficial for dogs that become fearful due to sounds, while a relaxing massage may help them recover from being startled.

Getting plenty of exercise may also help ease fearfulness in dogs, especially if you choose activities with familiar toys and locations where they typically feel at ease.

For extra calming support, try Kradle’s naturally calming (Non-CBD) products such as our Daily Calming Soft Chews, Bliss Bar Soft Bakes, and other products. These may help puppies maintain a normal and relaxed disposition, and we offer a variety of other calming products that may help your puppy better cope with external stresses.

Just keep in mind, we recommend sharing our non-CBD products with your dog until they transition to adult food.


Final Thoughts


The two fear stages in puppies are part of normal development and will pass as your dog grows. In the meantime, you can be on the lookout for signs of the fear periods and work to help your dog as they react to the world around them.

Since each puppy is unique, a custom-tailored approach based on their specific needs will typically provide the best results, and you can try both training and holistic solutions like Kradle products. Shop our full line of calming chews, bones, and bakes, and discover the right options for your puppy.




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