By Nan Talleno
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Neophobia is the fear of novelty or new things. In animal behavior, neophobia refers to the tendency of an animal to avoid or retreat from an unfamiliar object, event or situation.
Canines suffering from Neophobia tend to choose flight or avoidance at all costs, regardless of safety when encountering something new. They may freeze, cower, tremble uncontrollably, pant excessively, bark nervously, whine and even run. They are highly uncomfortable and visibly afraid of meeting unfamiliar people and animals.
This behavioral issue can evolve into more phobic behaviors such as tail-chasing, self- pacifying and excessive licking and/or chewing of objects, self injurious licking and chewing, tail biting, spinning, pacing excessively and object fixations.
These dogs, as well as all dogs, benefit from unwavering structure on a daily basis to help them to feel secure. Introduce new things calmly in a positive setting and in very small increments at a safe distance that your dog can handle. If the dog can’t handle it, stop immediately but do so calmly without any negative reaction as your dog is attuned to your energy.
Never punish your dog for being frightened. If need be, consult a professional behaviorist.