Fears are relatively common in dogs, and sometimes the fears can develop for no obvious reason.
Owners may find it difficult to deal with their pet’s fears because of the distress they can cause the animal. Dogs’ fear-related behaviors can sometimes cause problems for owners too.
Surprisingly, Velcro is a relatively common fear for dogs, in part because of the unusual sound it makes. Such a fear can be a hassle for owners, especially when it results in dogs growling at people who use Velcro. Here is what to do if your dog hates Velcro.
Velcro might make your dog act undesirably. Barking, whining, growling, cowering, raised hackles, and hiding are all common responses to something a dog finds threatening.
In extreme cases, your dog might even vomit or urinate on the floor. It is important not to overreact to these behaviors. If you become agitated and shout or threaten your dog, it may exacerbate these undesirable behaviors.
Understand your dog’s fear
The next few times you use Velcro, take note of what is happening. Are you putting on shoes and leaving the house without your dog?
If so, perhaps your dog has come to associate the sound of Velcro with you leaving them. Are you fastening window coverings in anticipation of an approaching thunderstorm? If so, perhaps your dog is feeling anxious in anticipation of a storm.
Understanding when your dog’s fear response is happening enables you to take steps to replace some of the negative associations.
For instance, maybe your dog dislikes when you put on your Velcro shoes and leave the house without her. If so, you could wear your Velcro shoes to walk your dog. Making Velcro part of a fun routine will help to replace the negative association with a positive one.
You need to replace your dog’s negative associations around Velcro with positive associations. Right now your dog dislikes Velcro, probably because of the loud tearing sound it makes. You need to make the sound of Velcro signify something good.
For most dogs, treats work great for training. You can even buy low-calorie training treats so you do not have to worry about overfeeding your dog. Next time you use Velcro, offer your dog a treat before, during, and immediately after you make the Velcro noise.
Over time, your dog should come to expect treats in association with Velcro. If regular treats aren’t enough motivation for your dog, you can up the ante. Offer string cheese or peanut butter, which are commonly used for dog training.
Some dogs are not motivated by food at all. If your dog seems indifferent to treats, think about what your dog likes best. Offering a favorite toy or bone works for some dogs. Others are motivated by verbal praise like ‘Good dog!’ or by petting.
The first time you offer your dog treats or pets in association with Velcro, they will still be nervous. You may need to drop the treats on the floor for them to eat later. Do not rush. Try to ensure a peaceful environment while you are working with your dog.
Eliminate distractions. Other people and animals or a loud television can make it hard for the dog to focus on what’s happening.
The first day you may want to try training once, and then try a couple of times the next day. It might take some patience for your dog to start approaching while Velcro is being used.
However, if you diligently offer treats, your dog’s behavior should gradually improve.
Consistency is key when trying to eliminate your dog’s Velcro fear. Try to offer treats every single time you use Velcro.
Regularity will lead to faster training than if you only remember to do it sometimes. You also need to remain consistently calm, with a cheerful tone of voice and slow, non-threatening movement.
A single outburst of frustration can undo several days’ worth of diligent training. Trust is key for your dog to learn effectively.
Special rules for puppies
If your dog is a puppy, start training with some simpler commands before tackling the Velcro fear. Teaching your puppy to sit and lay down are good places to start.
These behaviors are useful for your dog to know. More importantly, they will help your puppy learn how training works. Puppies require even more patience than adult dogs.
If you find yourself becoming frustrated, take a break, and try again later.
Stay the course
Dog training can take time, especially if your dog is young or inexperienced with training. You may be tempted to give up when you don’t see improvement right away.
For the sake of your dog, stick with it. It can be harder to train a dog with a rare incident. For instance, if you only use Velcro once a week, it will be harder for your dog to learn a new association with the Velcro.
Try to expose your dog to Velcro paired with your reinforcement at least once a day.
At first, you will offer treats while using Velcro regardless of your dog’s behavior. If you start to notice an improvement in your dog’s behavior, give additional treats, and verbal praise.
So if your dog stops growling when you use Velcro, say ‘Good dog! Good job not growling!’ and provide an additional treat.
For improvements, you may want to offer a different, more exciting treat. If you’ve been using small training treats to acclimate your dog to Velcro, offer peanut butter to reward improved behavior.
Consult an expert
If your patient, persistent efforts don’t seem to be getting you anywhere, it may be time to get some help.
Professional dog trainers often have a great deal of experience and may be able to try some advanced techniques. Your veterinarian can often recommend a good trainer.
If your dog’s Velcro fear is part of a larger pattern of anxious behaviors, consider talking to your veterinarian. Vets may recommend medications or other interventions for managing anxiety in dogs.