have a 2 yr old pug that’s afraid of everything that surrounds him, even when I
give him his food bowl he runs away. I have tried to show calm and
assertive direction and a matter-of-fact attitude. But it still does not work.
What else can I do?
hi, in the absence of more information, the first thing to do is to always rule out medical conditions- because if it is a medical problem, you would want to get your pet timely veterinary attention and treatment. animals who are ill or injured would typically shy away from social contact and want to hide away. certain conditions can even leave a pet in pain and very sensitive to touch. unfortunately, animals tend to hide pain very well so owners may mistake it for something else.
if your little pug's health is A+ (good for you!), then you're probably looking at environmental or behavioural issues. has your pug always been afraid of things? if not, when did it start? did any event happen recently (moving house, new pets, new baby, loss of pets, big party, vet visit, renovations, going away on holiday, hanging out with your friends' kitties, etc etc etc)? is it really "everything" it's afraid of, or just some things? which things? when is it afraid? what is your pet's history? how long has it been with you? where did it come from? what was its previous home like? what disciplinary methods,if any, do you use? no factor is too small to consider. alot of the time, animals act up for some reason and it's a signal to us that something may need to be fixed.
fear is not something to be "solved" through the owner being firm or assertive. it is not training. you can't train an animal not to feel fear because it's a natural response. it's completely different from training. fear can be managed and hopefully, even slowly overcome, with alot of patience and always at the animal's pace. you can't rush it but it helps if you can pinpoint the source. just as an example, one of my cats developed a fear of thunderstorms which i thought was cute because he would slink under the table and squash himself into the corner (i didn't realise at first it was because of the rain). but it wasn't so funny when he stayed there the whole time and began to miss meals and lose weight. when i finally did make the connection, i made it a point to go and sit next to him (yes, under the table!) and put my hand on him. he felt as tense as a tightrope and would shiver. then i would stroke him and then talk softly to him- all over a period of time, all done in stages. after two months, he'll often (but not always!) still go under the table just before rain (yes, he knows) but is no longer a little tight black ball with his nose pressed into the corner. he's sitting or lying there quite relaxed and some times even calls to me and most importantly, he's able to eat during the rain and he's put the weight back on (ps- animals should never go more than 48 hours without eating something).
this is just a simple, straightforward example (with thankfully a fairly straightforward solution); it can get more complicated, depending on individual situations, but fear is always irrational and should be treated with patience and understanding. as creatures of instinct, constant fear is actually a very bad stressor for any animal and can have very negative effects on the body. best of luck and love to your little pug. hope things work out for him/her.