Dogs have a knack for showing off their tough side, but underneath that facade, they’re just big-hearted softies.
They wear their hearts on their paws and often need as much reassurance and comfort as they give.
Sometimes, dogs develop fears that can affect their quality of life. I remember when we first brought our good boy Duke home, he was terrified of thunder!
When it stormed he’d hide out until the coast was clear. It was sad to see, especially on days it rained all day!
We need to understand our good boys’ fears and address them if necessary to give our canine friends the best lives possible.
So, what about a dog that is afraid of sticks? My dog is afraid of sticks, what now?
The quick and easy answer is your dog is probably afraid of sticks for one of the following reasons and there is something you can do to help him with each of them:
- Your Actions:
- Kids Chasing or Playing Rough
Sticks Are Unfamiliar
For some dogs, especially puppies, sticks may seem like strange and unfamiliar objects.
But don’t worry! This probably won’t last long.
Most dogs eventually learn to love playing with sticks. If your dog is still young, it probably won’t take long for him to love sticks of all sizes!
A History Of Abuse
Unfortunately, some dogs may exhibit fear as a result of past trauma.
If your dog reacts with fear when presented with a stick, it’s possible he was abused with one.
My dog, Duke, cowered in fear and whimpered when I first tried to play fetch with him. As soon as I broke a dead branch off a tree he changed from happy to scared.
It broke my heart to realize that his fear was likely the result of someone mistreating him.
In some cases, dogs may not be genuinely afraid of sticks but instead learned not to engage with them during their training.
They might avoid sticks altogether to prevent disappointment or getting in trouble.
Sometimes, dogs’ fear of sticks might actually result from the way we handle them.
Consider how you are using your walking stick or other sticks. Are you making a lot of noise or hitting the ground while holding a stick?
This could be unintentionally causing anxiety in your dog.
Kids Chasing Or Playing Rough
Children might accidentally teach a dog to be scared of sticks.
If kids play rough or chase a dog with a raised stick, the dog may become anxious around sticks in the future.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Be Scared Of Sticks?
If you’ve ever tried to toss a stick for your good boy, only to have him cower in fear, you may be wondering if this is normal behavior.
The answer is not really.
While there are a few reasons why a dog may be scared of sticks (I covered them above), most dogs actually love them.
In fact, sticks are almost a universal symbol of playful fun for pooches.
Helping Your Dog Overcome His Fear of Sticks
If your dog is fearful of sticks, you probably want to help him out.
Luckily, with a little patience and these helpful tips, you can help your pup gain more confidence around sticks.
Let Your Dog Get Used To Sticks
To help your dog feel more comfortable around sticks, start by introducing one into his environment.
Place a fetch stick, walking stick, or whatever he’s afraid of in your backyard where he can see it and investigate at his leisure.
Make sure the stick is not obstructing his usual path, but within his line of sight to spark curiosity.
Create A Positive Association With Sticks
If your dog still reacts negatively to the stick’s presence, take a more proactive approach.
Associate the stick with positivity by giving him praise, cuddles, and treats when using your walking stick or holding a fetch stick.
This will help your dog understand that the stick is harmless and even fun!
Train Your Dog Using Positive Reinforcement
Incorporate positive reinforcement into your training routine to promote favorable behavior around sticks.
Reward your dog with treats and praise when he approaches or interacts with a stick.
This will encourage him to realize that good things happen when he’s near sticks.
Punishing your dog for showing fear around sticks can worsen his anxiety and damage your relationship.
Instead, use positive reinforcement techniques to build trust and create a more secure environment for him.
Ignore The Fear
For situations where your dog doesn’t need to interact with sticks (e.g., carrying a walking stick or picking up sticks in the yard), try ignoring his fear.
Continue to engage with your dog in his usual routine without focusing on the stick.
This may help him realize there’s nothing to be scared of in such situations.
Work With A Professional Dog Behaviorist
If your dog’s fear of sticks persists and affects his daily life, consider seeking the help of a professional dog behaviorist.
They can provide tailored assistance and guidance to help your pet overcome his fear.
In Summary: Why Are Dogs Afraid Of Sticks?
Dogs can be afraid of sticks due to unfamiliarity, past abuse, training, their owner’s actions, or rough play by children.
It isn’t normal for dogs to be afraid of sticks, so if your dog is, you might want to help him get over that fear.
To help your dog overcome his fear of sticks, gradually introduce sticks into his environment, create positive associations, use positive reinforcement training, avoid punishment, and ignore fear when appropriate.
If necessary, consult a professional dog behaviorist for specialized assistance.