When a dog is frightened they may respond in several ways. Building confidence in the instance means being reassured that no one is going to hurt her. It takes a lot of courage for dogs to work through their nervousness issues, and they will need your support. For example, if a dog is afraid of bicycles, then the exercises will be designed to help the dog stop being afraid by focusing on a different activity, like sitting politely. The idea is that the exercises desensitize the dog to the fearful stimulant—whether it is strangers, children or loud percussive noises, like fireworks—so that the dog is no longer scared in the presence of these things. You have successfully joined our pup pack. If possible, taking basic obedience classes helps a lot. If she’s not totally comfortable with your presence, give her as much space as you can. By Just remember, your dog needs your compassion and patience. How To Teach a Shy, Fearful, or Nervous Dog! This sort of thinking can really lead you to pushing your dog too hard, too fast and can even backfire. While all positive training will help settle a fearful dog, these three specific training exercises can really pump up a scared dog's confidence: Ask politely for everything. If you can’t even start training confidence building because your dog is too shy, nervous, timid or fearful, then you may consider enlisting the help of a dog behaviorist. Some methods for keeping the scary things away include: When I had fearful foster dogs, sometimes we avoided walks altogether and just did nosework in the backyard. In canine behavior, confidence-building exercises are referred to as desensitization and counterconditioning training. Get help from a good dog trainer if you really get stuck! Great to hear Lilly's doing well. It’s just too difficult to help dogs who are really scared all of the time. How do fearful dogs gain confidence? I was interested until the suggestion of the beep of a shock collar is why they may be scared of the beep of the microwave . This game is one of my favorites, but it’s only suitable for dogs who can already be within about 10 feet of their triggers. The dog is naturally going to sniff your hand. This article informing about how to help a fearful dog gain confidence. What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food? Over time, you’ll start noticing that your dog has more confidence to just “behave more.” She’s learning that moving and doing stuff can pay off. Get tons of great dog training advice and tips about gear! The idea is to slowly reintroduce your dog to the stimulus that causes their fear at a far enough distance away to avoid eliciting a fear response. The first step to helping a fearful dog gain confidence is to identify what scares your dog. Now that you know what your dog’s fears are, it’s your job to protect her from them – for now. Step 3. To start, put your pup on a dog leash and, at a safe distance or volume—where your dog knows the scary thing is present but isn’t exhibiting any signs of fear—ask your dog to sit and pay attention. When he does, say “Nose,” and let him have the treat. If your dog has experienced a traumatic event, it’s not something he can get over quickly. When I adopted Barley, he was a bit nervous about strangely-shaped people (wheelchairs, crutches, big backpacks, umbrellas, trekking poles, floppy hats, etc). Your job is to reward if they get closer to the scary thing, but not lure them closer. Have you ever had to deal with a low confidence dog? Without further ado, here are some of my favorite dog confidence building games. May 5, 2020 December 25, 2019 by Gagan Luthra. When a dog is truly “shut down” and doesn’t seem to do anything other than tremble, it can feel hopeless. Best Answer. This video How to Build Confidence in Your Dog or Fearful Dog! Additionally, K9ofMine.com participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links. Many dogs get particularly anxious around specific people or specific things. Glad you got Saber past his bike fears. No way a tone signal on a shock collar is the same as a microwave beep. Of course, you’re probably already seeing improvements simply because your dog is less stressed. Keep sessions very short and try to keep your rate of reinforcement high. If your dog is acting happy and confident, take one step toward the scary thing, or turn up the recording, and repeat the exercise. Training fearful dogs generally takes place on the timescale of months and years, not hours and days. While we provide information resourced and canine education, the content here is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. Last update: Sep 27, 2020 1 answer. This might mean being across a large parking lot from the vet clinic if your dog is scared of other dogs, or using an app to mimic the sound of quiet thunder rolling. Share in the comments! Happy to give you more case details if you’re interested! Make a list of your dog’s triggers (what she’s scared of). This is called counter conditioning and desensitization, and when done successfully, it helps them feel more comfortable around the source of their fear. Helping fearful dogs become more confident is a multi-step process that can take weeks, months, or even years. If it is dog treats, then the treats need to be able to be broken down into tiny bits that require minimal chewing. So what’s the deal? Finally, yes, sometimes we can point to an actual event that caused the fearfulness. Fearful dogs are usually the ones without a strong character to lead them as pack leader. There’s a pervasive myth that fearful dogs were abused – they often weren’t. She travels full time with her border collie Barley and her boyfriend, Andrew. It must be said that it can be a long, hard process. This game teaches dogs that strangers produce treats without pressuring the dog to get too close. Let’s look at some examples. That said, I do actually know of a case of a dog who was petrified of the microwave beep (and all other repetitive beeps) after the owners installed an underground fencing system. K9ofMine.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. It’s best if you can control the trigger – this game backfires if the scary stranger tries to approach and pet your dog. This game is far better than luring a dog towards a stranger for treats. Some dogs are afraid of all people, others seemingly inexplicably fall apart at the sight of just a few specific people. You can help teach them that scary stuff isn’t so bad, but they’re unlikely to totally make the switch. How do you make it easier? Upward Dog Walker April 21, 2015 at 12:07 pm. It goes by many different names for slightly different variations in how it’s played – Look at That is another common name of the game. Hold a treat in your hand. What other advice do you have for owners of fearful dogs? 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. This is “nose targeting.” You’ll probably only need to do this a few times before your dog gets the idea that if he bump… In excess, sensitivity becomes fear. How to Desensitize Your Dog to a Fear-Inducing Stimulus. Dogs have excellent hearing and easily discern slight variations of tones. Though Barley isn’t scared of the ocean, the engage/disengage game being demonstrated is the same! I hope you come this way again soon. It’s tempting to try to drag your dog into new situations until she “gets over it,” but this is called flooding and often backfires. I own a very busy dog walking and pet sitting business and a conservative estimate of our clientele who are fearful … But in pet dogs, this can have devastating consequences. K9ofMine.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. Do you have a timid dog? I’m not sure if Kayla will have a chance to respond to this (but you can always reach her directly at Journey Dog Training). Many times, a dog develops fear because something happened during his critical socialization period that scared him. This also allows your dog to move away and collect the treats, then choose whether or not to approach. Conclusion on how to raise a confident dog. Likewise, puppies born from a highly stressed mother (like a mother who gave birth in the shelter, a puppy mill, or while a stray) are more likely to be pre-wired for fearfulness. Every owner will have a different goal for their dog. You’re not a bad owner if your dog is fearful – but you do have a lot of work ahead of you to help your dog feel comfortable in this world. If you want to teach a dog to “shake,” you have to associate that behavior with a reward until the dog instinctively knows, “If I do this with my paw, something good happens.” Affection is a Reward To our dogs, affection is a reward. Here’s a common example: your dog panics at the sight of another dog, even if that other dog is a football field away. It is also important that you remain calm and relaxed, as your dog will look to you for emotional guidance and cues. Luckily, there are lots of confidence building exercises for dogs that are actually fun to train. You used a warning beep on a shock collar, and now your dog is terrified of the microwave. Situations to avoid with your fearful dog. One way to help a dog feel more confident is to use repeated exposure to the scary thing (the stimulus) so that it becomes less novel and more routine. Your dog will start to build a positive association in his mind between the scary thing and his favorite thing, and pretty soon, your dog may automatically sit and look expectantly at you, waiting for a treat whenever the scary thing is present. Step 4. Training is great for building confidence. It would be difficult for you to entertain guests without aggravating your pet, … Fear can be a tough one to conquer. It’s really hard if your dog is scared of someone who lives in your home. As part of the family, the dog should have a place he can go that’s entirely his. Be sure to define and redefine what success will look like for you and your dog. Your dog was attacked by another dog and now is scared of dogs, A horrifying thunderstorm happened while you were gone, and now your dog has. While all positive training will help settle a fearful dog, these three specific training exercises can really pump up a scared dog’s confidence: • Ask politely for everything. If your dog seems genuinely scared of the wind and her own shadow, I strongly recommend discussing behavior medication with your vet. Some dogs are just going to be jumpier and more anxious than others – you can help support them, but don’t expect your dog to go from terrified of strangers to being a therapy dog. This game is the bread and butter of helping fearful dogs gain confidence. Get tons of great dog training tutorials, canine gear guides, and the latest doggy discounts. Learn More With the Help of Videos. If the dog was scared of that person immediately upon meeting the new person, it’s likely that the problem is related back to a deeper problem of neophobia. Aside from behavior medication, you might want to consider the following supportive measures for your dog: Finally, ensure that you’re addressing your dog’s behavioral wellness. It’s also worth investigating why the dog is scared of a single person. When your dog does, reward her lavishly and give praise. Whenever they walk past the dog, they can casually toss treats to the dog (see Treat and Retreat, below). If it is dog treats, then the treats need to be able to be broken down into tiny bits that require minimal chewing. The idea is to slowly reintroduce your dog to the stimulus that causes their fear at a … Not all dogs are naturally tail-wagging bundles of love. Moving objects (like bags blowing in the wind), Situations (like being surrounded by people). For adult dogs, new = scary. Step 1. In the process of trying to make them better, they instead worsen the situation. Eventually you can start selectively rewarding your dog for lifting her head, moving towards you, or even engaging with her environment. Dog training is excellent to help a fearful dog build confidence. The video below shows how to get started teaching your dog to associate clicks with treats: Step 2. By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker If your dog has a shy personality, it’s possible he was born that way, as some dogs have a genetic predisposition toward timidity. As a result, he may be conditioned to be fearful of that thing, or he may have become a timid or nervous dog in general. That’s why puppy socialization is so important – if you teach your puppy that things are normal, they won’t fall into the “Scary New Stuff” category later in life. How Confidence-Building Exercises Can Help Timid Dogs. If your dog is scared of a sound, such as fireworks, play a recording at a soft enough volume so that your dog isn’t scared. We’re not trying to be Freud, probing deep into your dog’s subconscious. … Dog Training She owns her own dog training business, Journey Dog Training and holds a degree in biology from Colorado College. Today we’re going to talk about the various reasons you may have ended up with an insecure dog, and  how to help a fearful dog gain confidence. For dogs who are scared of people, you’ll need to get a helper person. My goal was to be able to pass people like this on the street or on the trail calmly. Hi Kayla, this article was really interesting for me. Some puppies are born shy. Play this game by setting up a careful training scenario where you know exactly how intense your trigger will be. Share on facebook. Your goal should be to help the dog learn that “scary person” will respect the dog’s space but also brings awesome stuff to the table. Get help if you need. Positive only trainer spreading misinformation at every opportunity. In this example, when someone walks in the door she starts barking. Some dogs are born with a shy personality, while other dogs have had life experiences that have caused them to become fearful. I call this, “training your dog under the freak-out threshold.”. Sometimes a dog is just scared of the stairs or of slippery floors, other times literally the whole world seems like a haunted house to them. This is difficult, long, slow process – be patient. That should help! There are two main ways to play. It was a really interesting case. In general, the best course of action here is to have the “scary person” ignore the dog most of the time, averting their gaze and giving the dog space. Home » How to Help a Shy, Fearful Dog Build Confidence. Be prepared with some tasty treats, like shredded cooked chicken breast. At the same time, the counterconditioning exercises will help to establish a new behavioral response to the object of the dog’s fear. Pair this exposure with something positive, like a tasty treat. Between the ages of 7 and 14 weeks, puppies undergo what is known as the critical socialization period. Thank you for this! In this example, I’d suggest having the dog walk through a field after another dog played there. Figuring out what triggers them is the first step in trying to help them gain confidence, and desensitizing them to their fears. Repeat daily or twice daily, getting closer and closer to the scary thing with each repetition. The click lets your dog know a treat is on its way. Training Builds Confidence. They may be especially afraid of men, of children, or of strangers. “Find It” Like targeting, “Find it” is a behavior many dogs learn … How to Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence. We’re just trying to make her feel better. It’s easy to teach, and most dogs will catch on quickly. Eventually I started riding it in the yard and laying it down. Love the article! Leave your dog where she’s most comfortable – even if that is a closet or a crate. It also teaches the dog that moving away from scary stuff is a good idea, which is helpful in preventing bites. If your dog does anything at all – rolls her eyes towards you, raises an eyebrow, shifts, sighs, lifts her head, re-tucks a foot – click and gently toss a treat to her. For dogs who are scared of other stuff, this game starts looking a lot like engage-disengage. This last point is probably my main goal when working with fearful dogs. Obviously, most dogs won’t have this response – but it’s also not unheard of. If your dog exhibits any signs of fear, quit the exercise and try again the next day at a greater distance from the scary thing. It’s ok to aim high if you ensure that you don’t pressure your dog. That’s a good idea in most circumstances, but it’s especially important when dealing with a fearful dog. It’d probably be a good idea to let your pooch meet any dog you’re considering adding to the family. In many cases where the dog is scared of just one person, something happened to cause it. We often can’t know exactly why your dog is afraid of things. 6 Comments. Helping your fearful dog gain confidence can be as simple as introducing exercise into their routine, implementing basic obedience skills, coping skills and using something pleasurable (food or toys) to change the way your dog feels about the fearful object or environment. Dogs who are experiencing anxiety may shake, be skittish and have an overwhelming look of fear in their eyes, says Andrew Horan , the owner and head trainer at Citizen K9 in Gainesville, Virginia. These dogs will really benefit most from a dog behavior consultant and/or veterinary help. In many cases, it’s never really “done.”. That’s not to say that a shy dog can’t be a happy dog. Poorly-bred dogs and dogs of certain breeds are more predisposed towards being environmentally sensitive. My dog Saber had an unhealthy fear of bikes I never have figured out why. Clicker training is great for fearful dogs because it eliminates extra information (your voice). This is your baseline and your list of mountains to climb. Saber now can jog along next to the bike, or even more fun chase me while I ride it. Truffle Hunting Dogs: Helping Owners Sniff Out Big Bucks! 17 min read Dogs get fearful due to many reasons and if these reasons are not spotted and removed by you then your dog’s health and lifestyle can be affected in a negative way. Instead, she might conclude that there are “monsters” everywhere and get even more skittish! Other fearful dogs are “made” due to the way that they are raised or treated. However, many anxious dogs don’t have any puppyhood trauma. Just make it a bit easier. Share on twitter. This means that if she does see her former triggers, she’s more likely to react with grace and confidence. Fearful dogs, more often than not, are afraid of something because they perceive it as new. November 23, 2020 Whether you’re brushing up on old skills like … That helper will keep their eyes low and keep their side to the dog rather than facing head-on. The first secret is to find a training reward that your dog really, really likes and only use that during the confidence-building exercises. As you click and reward your dog for looking at the scary thing, though, you’ll now also turn away from the scary thing and reset. The person might have dropped a loud pan, stepped on the dog’s tail, or yelled at the dog in a moment of frustration. 17 thoughts on “ Help for the Fearful Dog ” Pingback: Tweets that mention Help for the Fearful Dog | Victoria Stilwell Positively -- Topsy.com Jules February 8, 2011 at 7:29 am. It was popularized thanks to Leslie McDevitt in her book, Control Unleashed. Here's an overview on this behavioral disorder and what you can do to help your furry friend gain the confidence he needs to overcome his nervous tendencies. Before coming to K9 of Mine, Kayla worked at Denver Dumb Friends League as a Behavior Technician. This is evolutionarily advantageous in wild animals – if mom was stressed out while pregnant, there’s a good chance that the pups should be on high alert. Teaching your dog skills—like how to sit, lay down or come—can be beneficial for two primary reasons when it comes to confidence building, according to Melese. You have to be careful, though, not to overwhelm the dog while using this technique, which is called desensitization. Its purpose is to keep your dog focused on you, even when he’s in the presence of something (or someone) that’s scaring him. This problem can be embarrassing and difficult if your dog is terrified of a housemate, friend, or family member. The best way to help a shy or fearful dog gain confidence is to expose them to what frightens them at a low intensity. Now that your dog is feeling a lot better in her daily life, it’s time to start getting to work on building your dog’s confidence. Training Helps Build Confidence. In general, we always want to aim for your dog to look and feel confident in as many day-to-day situations as possible. Hey, Jane. But there are degrees of fearfulness, and your expectations will need to change based on how scared your dog is in general. Share on linkedin. Working at an animal shelter taught me that no two fearful dogs are the same. The first secret is to find a training reward that your dog really, really likes and only use that during the confidence-building exercises. I am so sorry to have missed your seminar last weekend in Seattle! Is she afraid of all sounds, or only repetitive beeps? Kayla Fratt is a dog behavior consultant and freelance writer. Would this generally be helpful in these cases? It’s made with milk proteins and is one of... Melatonin treats can also help calm a dog … How to Help Fearful Dog Gain Confidence? If your dog was undersocialized as a puppy, she’s more likely to be strongly neophobic. In some cases, you might have to get creative. If your dog can’t focus on you, that’s ok. Just reset to make it easier, take a break, and try again. If it’s his … The amount of space needed will vary for every dog; for some it is 20 feet, and for others, it may be a football-field length. She was with her litter mates until 4 months of age but otherwise has not had much other dog interaction. I don’t recommend that the “scary person” become the main walker or feeder at first. Be sure to use a backhanded flick rather than an overhanded lob to avoid startling her. By comforting a fearful dog, you are rewarding what it’s doing in that moment: being scared. Provide Quiet Spaces. However, in most cases, shyness in canines is rooted in fear. How to Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence. In all honesty, it’s not always helpful to spend a lot of time trying to find the root of your dog’s fear. Fortunately, it’s not impossible to help a scared dog gain confidence. Part of reducing stress (taking away the monsters) also means giving your dog ancillary support when needed. This is incredibly important because learning is impaired when the brain is stressed. If the dog looks at them or approaches them, the helper will toss a treat behind the dog (treat) so that the dog turns back to get the food (retreat). Use a pen to click (put it in your pocket if that sound makes her flinch). These nervous or timid dogs can benefit from confidence-building exercises that can help to retrain their brain and remove the fear stigma attached to various situations or things. 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