How to Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence

By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence

If your pet dog is often fearful, it is simply confirming that it is insecure, timid and that it is not happy, so you have to help it gain confidence. The reasons why our furry friend is fearful usually proceeds a traumatic experience. Sometimes, the cause of dogs' fear might also be due to lack of socialization when it was a puppy, or no experience of the outside world.

What is important for both us and the animal is that, with reasonable care and the appropriate training, our pet regains confidence. It is possible to train a fearful dog. Therefore, in we teach you how to help a fearful dog gain confidence.

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Two types of fear

As a general rule, fearful dogs tend to be classified in two categories: those who have fear of people and other animals (social fear) and those who suffer fear to other stimulus: firecrackers, fireworks, cars, storms... Whatever it is that your dog is afraid of, there are ways to help your fearful dog gain confidence.

You can take note everytime your dog become fearful so that you what it is scared of: fireworks? motorbikes? children? a particular kind of people?

The most recognisable signs of fear in dogs are: shaking, hiding the tail, barking, urinating, hiding themselves.

The first step to take to help a fearful dog gain confidence is avoiding the fearful situation your dog is afraid of, so that it lowers its stress levels. After a while, you will be ready to train your fearful dog.

General training will be beneficial to your dog as it will feel that you are in charge and you will lead it to do the right thing. So, start by teaching your dog a variety of commands. Then you can start a specific training for your fearful dog to gain confidence.

So that the dog can overcome its anxiety, it is important to recognize that dogs deal with things differently than humans.

The behaviour of the dog

A dog is not a person and normally, when our pet is scared, we tend to react with words and protective embraces to try to reassure it. This is wrong! By doing this, we are only strengthening the fear of our dog as it notices that something is wrong. The dog becomes aware that we have modified our conduct in our attempts to reassure it.

By contrast, as soon as we notice our pet lowering its ears and hiding its tail, we must redirect the dog's attention by giving it a positive stimulus.

To do this, the best thing to do is play, ensure that its attention is focused elsewhere. Run and call it so it follows you and plays. In this manner, you are strengthening positive behaviour and the animal will divert its attention from the object or situation that scares it.

You can also train your dog to do a particular thing every time it feels fearful, for example sitting down quietly. Every time it does it, reward it with a reward word of choice. Your dog will gain confidence by knowing exactly what to do when it becomes anxious, and that you will be there. As you see it is possible to train a fearful dog if you know what you are doing.

How to Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence - The behaviour of the dog

Become your dogs leader

Your dog will feel reassured if it knows that you are in control of the situation. Therefore, excessive petting or doing so in bad moments will only generate more insecurity which is not what we want.

Make it clear who is in charge but never through corporal punishment, as that will only enhance the fear of the dog. Learn to read your dogs body language and anticipate situations which are fearful to him by reading his gestures if you want to help a fearful dog.

Correct its posture and do not allow it to adopt permissive or submissive attitudes. Make it stand straight, with its head held high and call for its attention with words before fear takes over.

Finally, you must be sure, strong and confident. Dogs quickly notice the state of their owner and adopt their master's emotions, so if you are fearful you will infect your pet with the same feeling.

Learn how to keep your dog from running away when it's not on the leash at

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