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How to Train Fearful & Anxious Dogs

fearful dog training

Time is KEY to training fearful dogs

Whenever training a puppy or dog who is fearful or anxious, you must go about your training in a different way and understand that giving them time is crucial. Giving them extra time to adapt to their environment and to you must happen before you begin any training. Using typical training methods could actually harm your relationship with the dog which creates an even bigger challenge when it comes to training skills.

Once your dog has had time to adjust to having you in their environment, you can start to build trust between you and your dog. The first step is bringing something they find enjoyable so that they can make a positive association between you and the item. People most commonly use treats or the dogs favorite toy for this. You'll first want to read the dog's body language before moving forward with this first step. This again may take some time.

training anxious dog

Your Approach with the Dog is Important

The best way to approach a nervous puppy or dog is to make yourself look less intimidating. You can do this by crouching down or sitting down on the ground. Take off any items that may make the dog scared like hats, big jackets, large boots, and so on. You also want to avoid making direct eye contact with the dog at first, this can be perceived as a treat by the dog. Your approach should be calm and gentle. Think about your voice tone and your body language as you begin to work with the dog.

Remember that this is a process and it can take some dogs weeks or even months to trust a person. It's common for puppies to go through fear periods where they may be more easily startled, this is a short few months time period they will likely grow out of. However, if it's something that last longer then this is a more serious concern. Dog's who are adopted from shelters can sometimes have these types of behaviors. Depending on their history and genetics, any puppy can turn into a dog who is fearful or anxious. This is why it's so crucial to prepare with good dog training whenever getting a new dog.

woman with dog

Once Trust is Built, Dog Training Can Begin.

It's crucial to have a solid relationship based on trust before any dog training begins. Once that is established, you can start working on your training. It's best to start with easier obedience skills like sit and down. Starting with something complex like leash walking for example, could make things much more difficult for you. Once you've got reliable basic commands you can move on to more challenging tasks.

Always keep in mind that no task is more important than the relationship you've built with your dog. If you push them too far too fast, you may end up setting back your training. Never force your puppy or dog into situations where they're fearful because that can translate into you not being a trustworthy person. Instead, build slow gradual progress with them and see how their desire to learn and please you begins to grow. This is without a doubt the best way to train fearful or anxious dogs.


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