Helping a Fearful Dog Feel Secure

Helping a Fearful Dog Feel Secure

July 21, 2021

Like humans, dogs can feel plenty of fear and anxiety. Helping your fearful dog feel secure is one of your most important tasks as an owner—otherwise, it can manifest in aggressive behavior, nervous tics and other unwanted issues.

Why are dogs fearful? Some are coming from previously abusive situations, which can make them extremely wary of humans. Others may simply have a hard time adjusting, going from their previous home or shelter to a brand-new place with brand-new humans. You might also get a puppy whose mother is anxious, so they’ve picked up on those behaviors—or maybe they were simply born that way. Either way, there are a few different ways you can help your fearful dog feel more secure in their new home.

Look for the triggers

The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out what triggers your dog. For example, thunderstorms and fireworks scare a lot of dogs. Maybe your dog is afraid of dark-haired men, or they think toilet paper rolls are frightening—it doesn’t matter what the trigger is. Observe your dog and their behaviors closely. Once you get a sense of what frightens them, you’ll have an idea of how to monitor their behavior.

Provide a sense of dog security

Your role as an owner and caretaker is to provide a sense of security and comfort. Your dog should understand that you’re there to be helpful. Teach them that good things happen when they come to you: pets and attention, toys, playtime or calm words.

You should also provide them with a few safe spaces around the home, like crates, dog beds and a good hiding spot. This will help them transition to solving their own problems when necessary.

Train them properly

Training your dog is a good way to bond with them and teach them the rules of your home. Make it fun: offer plenty of treats for good behavior, smile when you do it and give them plenty of positive verbal feedback. They respond to the tone more than the words (except for commands), so you can say just about anything as long as it sounds warm and friendly.

Another way to train your dog is to teach them to do tricks. It’s a low stakes way to build that bond and teach them good communication skills—and it’s cute, too.

Training your dog helps them build confidence, which will go a long way toward making them feel more secure in their new space and with their new owner and family.

Manage their fears patiently

Finally, make sure you never punish your dog for their fearful behavior. Manage them patiently—if you see that a trigger is coming up, like a thunderstorm, get everything you need together ahead of time and provide a safe space for your dog. You can show them, through positive reinforcement, that their fears are manageable.

For more information about how to help your fearful dog, contact or pay a visit St. Francisville Animal Hospital today. We’d be glad to provide additional tips and tricks!

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