7 Tips for a Fearful Dog
Every now and then you might meet a new dog who runs away at the sight of you and won't let you show any affection, even if it's a delicious treat. These are dogs that lack socialization and confidence. There are a few ways to help young dogs overcome their fearfulness, like proper socialization and obedience training.
Any internet search will bring up a lot of information on this topic, but what we have done here is find 7 ways to properly interact with fearful dogs, so the next time you visit your friend's or relative's with a fearful dog, you don't make things worse for the poor thing.
There is an important distinction between a fearful dog and a fear aggressive dog. If your dog displays any signs of aggression or you feel uncomfortable interacting with your dog in anyway, contact a qualified professional who can help you in person.
- Let the Dog Choose. A frightened dog should decide whether or not to approach someone. Don’t restrain or force them to accept contact from others. A willing dog will seek attention, an unwilling participant will flee, freeze or fight.
- Turn Sideways. Facing a dog head on is more confrontational than turning your body to the side.
- Don’t Stare. Your mother always said “Don’t stare, it’s rude.” In the animal world staring is threatening. Obviously you can look at your dog, but don’t stare directly in their eyes. Soften your facial expressions and eyes in order to appear less intimidating. NEVER allow children or anyone else to put their face near your dog’s face.
- You’re Not a Drone, Don’t Hover. Bending or leaning over a dog can elicit a fear or defensive (aggressive) response.
- Appropriate Petting. Touching a fearful or unfamiliar dog on top of their head is not the best idea. Rough petting, patting, or grabbing of their collar is not safe with many dogs.
- Scoop, Don’t Swoop. Little dogs are usually approached quickly, direct, and with overhead movements. That is much more frightening than crouching down and using a slow under the head/belly movement in order to scoop them up.
- It’s Not a Kodak Moment, Watch Your Smile. Humans find a smile to be friendly, but showing teeth is a threat in the animal kingdom. A closed mouth smile is far less concerning for dogs.
There are many variables that come into play when helping a fearful dog. Being aware of, and modifying our body language is one critical component. By doing this, we can substantially improve both our relationship with the dog and also their confidence in themselves and the world around them.
Source: The Dogington Post