A less common but intriguing set of behaviours in domestic dogs is known as “neophobia”, or extreme fear of anything new. Our homes have an endless supply of new things. In fact, most humans seek new things for pleasure. Dogs with the neophobic trait are constantly fearful to the point of extreme paranoia of anything even slightly odd, different, and especially unknown or confining.
Neophobia is helpful for survival to wild dogs, as they are nearly impossible to trap, catch or bait. They give anything different a wide berth, especially dog traps, vehicles and even people. We might describe them as highly skittish. Some of our domestic dogs share this trait and it is doubly important to expose such pets to a wide range of experiences at an early age (before 16 weeks of age). This will help a neophobic dog, but nothing can entirely undo neophobia, as in spite of best efforts that personality trait will persist.
Some working breeds are neophobic (especially Kelpies), as some strains are thought to include dingo ancestry. It can become a source of mild amusement to see your neophobic pet stalking a strange suitcase, or avoiding an area where something fell off the shelf near them weeks ago. In their world, many things try to “get” them! Neophobic dogs can fit into home life with patience and early conditioning, and it is not a reflection of inadequate training or care. There are all sorts of dogs out there, just as there are people.
Phone Dr Jackie for Veterinary appointments on: 0400 699 704