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Some dogs are high strung, being nervous and easily excited. These types of dogs require special work in order to make them into good pets.
Nervousness is a combination of traits. art of being nervous are dogs that don’t rebound from stress very easily. In “dog terminology”, that is referred to a dog with “thin nerves”. Things just don’t bounce off of them very easily, and they don’t recover very easily when stimulated by something unpleasant: a loud sound (gunfire, fireworks, car backfiring), firm verbal or leash correction, physical pain (such as from tripping on the carpet), or bad experience (dog bowl tips over and scares the dog), etc. A dog with “thick nerves” would be just the opposite, barely registering they noticed the stimulus, and then rebounding from that unpleasant experience as if it never happened. Nervousness also refers to dogs that are more likely to go into escape mode, especially in new environments, new situations, new learning opportunities, or when around strange people or animals. This is a dog that is easily scared.
Easily excited dogs are those that have low stimulus thresholds. Thus, they are more easily roused to activity or to have an emotional response. An excitable dog is much more active, and much more emotional on greetings, for example. And if the dog has insecurities, such as being worried about the greeting, will be even more active and emotional. On the opposite spectrum is the nervous dog that shuts down. They also have “thin nerves”, but instead of getting more active and emotional, they will go “rag doll” on you.
Some of this is a result of breeding. Some dogs just are more high strung than others. Some breeds also tend to be more high strung than others.
Some of this is how you manage the dog. Dogs that are high strung are often scolded and punished by exasperated dog owners. This is the opposite of what these dogs need. The more you bear down on a high strung dog, the worse things will get. The more you try to dominate such a dog, the worse it will get. It can become a terrible cycle, the dog is stimulated to act high strung, the dog gets punished, so the dog gets even more out of control, and gets even more punishment. And in some cases, the dog starts to bite.
If you have a high strung dog, you really should be hiring a professional behaviorist to unravel what is going on. You are in over your head, and what might seem right to you, won’t be the right solution. All that “dog whisperer” stuff is going to backfire, too. You are just going to make the problem worse.
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