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How to help the fearful dog

German Shepherd puppy - day two

Fearful dogs - here are some ideas to help them

Recognise it - dogs show this in so many ways - so ask if you are not sure. What are they scared of? Noise? Fireworks? You? Visitors? Men? Try and work it out.

Offer a Safe and secure place to hide - a crate or bed in a quiet place is ideal. You could cover the top to make a den and it is ok if that is where she/he wants to stay. It is fine to shut the door too. And as soon as you let them out make sure you take them outside to have a wee!

Reassure its all ok, stay calm yourself and just be with the dog. Use a radio station with talking on - your dog can get used to all sorts of speech - men,women, kids and all sorts accents and tones. Gradually increasing volume will help.

Tell visitors to avoid eye contact and don’t keep worrying the dog if they have hidden in their den. It’s up to you to get them to trust you. You need to be their protector and need patience.

Great tasty treats - Butternut box do a wonderful semi moist treat that you can crumble. www.ButternutBox/WalkAboutWay for more details and 75% off your first box!

Use these to help your dog. Remember if you have some warm food, it tastes better and may encourage your dog to eat. Sometimes people suggest you hand-feed a fearful dog all their meals to make them learn to like you. The thing to bear in mind is whether or not the dog is comfortable enough to approach you.

If they are afraid to approach, it’s not very nice to force them to come near you in order to get food. After all, they have to eat. If you want to hand-feed them, check they are comfortable being that close to you. If you see signs of fear, including a lowered body posture and trembling, put the food at a distance from you instead so the dog is not afraid. Sometimes you can sit and toss treats and give the dog a choice of whether to come and get them while you are there.

Don’t force them to face their fears but recognise that sometimes you have to gently take charge. Such as picking up and taking dog outside to be clean and comfortable. Keep on a harness and long line though.

Similarly, don’t tether a fearful dog to you in the hope it will make them get used to you. Using a leash like this makes it impossible for the dog to get to what they feel is a safe distance. Remember, your aim is to make the dog feel safe.

Gentle training - watch, feel my collar, sit and down. Using yummy treats - see above

No punishment - absolutely not but try to ensure you don’t set yourself to fail either. Dog proof areas and keep the working space small.

Seek help - speak to a trainer for ideas. No classes though until the first fortnight has gone past. Go slowly and gentle exposure to things. Another dog will help some dogs as they set example to the new dog.

Use pet remedy as a plug in, spray and wipes. It helps the dog’s body adjust naturally.

Keep yourself a diary or write a blog. Record it and it will help you remember how hard it was.


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