How you can Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence


Need to learn how you can help a fearful dog gain confidence?

Enabling a fearful dog to work through their anxieties and turn into a confident, independent individual is amazingly rewarding.

Nonetheless, it also comes with some unique challenges and requires a great deal of time and patience.

Here’s what you could learn about how you can construct confidence in a fearful or insecure dog, including signs of fear, reasons for fear, dog confidence constructing exercises, and more.

What Does a Fearful Dog Look Like?

Some indications that a dog is fearful are quite obvious and easy, while others aren’t nearly as clear. Listed here are some things to search for to enable you know that your dog is fearful. In the event you see these signs, be sure to back off and provides your dog time to calm down before continuing with confidence-building exercises.

  • Tongue flicks. The dog may lick you, the air, or their very own nose, but no matter what they’re licking, quick flicks of the tongue are typically a sign of a submissive and anxious dog.
  • Panting. Panting when the dog isn’t hot may suggest fear or pain.
  • Yawning. Yawing is a submissive gesture that dogs use after they’re feeling insecure to let you know or other dogs that they mean no harm.
  • Shaking or trembling. That is one in every of the simplest indications of fear to acknowledge because dogs share it with humans. It’s vital to notice that some breeds, similar to chihuahuas, shake as a breed characteristic. In fact, dogs may shake after they’re cold.
  • Growling or snapping. Most of the behaviors which are often interpreted as aggressive are literally done out of fear. Abused dogs are especially more likely to behave aggressively because they’re afraid.
  • Urination. Inappropriate urination upon greeting, when voices are raised, or during interactions is commonly a sign of a submissive and potentially fearful dog.
  • Clinginess. Fearful dogs often seek comfort from an individual or dog that they trust by sticking near them.
  • Making themselves small. An insecure dog will often attempt to make themselves seem as small as possible. They could do that while acting aggressively, which might be a great clue that the aggression is definitely out of fear.

Why are Dogs Fearful?

growling dog

Understanding why your dog is fearful might be helpful in determining how you can help them. It may also enable you understand how likely you might be to have substantial success.

Dogs that weren’t socialized as puppies could have a difficult time getting over their fearfulness. This is very true in the event that they come from feral parents and have fearful littermates.

Dog fearfulness might be genetic. Moreover, there are critical socialization periods when a puppy is young. In case your dog misses those socialization periods, they might struggle to develop positive relationships with people.

Alternatively, if a dog was abused for a transient period but otherwise received appropriate socialization, they might just must learn to trust again. The prognosis for such a dog is rather more positive.

In the event you suspect that your dog has been undersocialized or comes from a feral background, it is necessary to temper your expectations in terms of their confidence.

Sometimes, a dog from such a background won’t ever be outgoing and carefree.

Medication might be helpful for these styles of dogs. Making a predictable schedule with loads of routine may help them to get essentially the most out of life that they’ll.

While living with a dog who’s affected by lifelong fearfulness has particular restrictions, it may possibly even be rewarding.

These dogs might be exceptionally loving and dedicated to their caretakers, even in the event that they’ll never be as easy-going or carefree as other dogs.

It’s price persevering with the next confidence-building techniques, assuming your dog appears to be benefiting from them.

Pup Faith-Constructing Exercises

Spend Time Together

Perhaps the only strategy to help an insecure dog develop confidence is to be a relaxed, consistent person of their life:

  • Don’t approach your dog, but slightly allow them to approach you.
  • All the time have some delicious treats readily available to reward your dog after they construct up the courage to return to you.
  • Avoid eye contact, as it may possibly be threatening to an insecure dog.
  • Watch out not to lift your voice, move in unexpected ways, and be cautious about holding objects around your dog. This is very vital if you happen to suspect that your dog has been abused.

Play With and Around Them

dog playing around his owner

Highly insecure dogs may not have the arrogance to play with you yet. This is very true in the event that they have been abused and suspect that the interaction won’t be a positive one.

Nonetheless, it is difficult for dogs to withstand a playful person in the long run. In case your dog isn’t willing to play with you, simply mess around them.

Show interest in and toss dog toys around, play bow in the final direction of your dog by bending over after which jumping away, and run away out of your dog, gently slapping your side or hands to encourage them to chase you.

Be very careful that none of your play gestures might be misinterpreted as a show of strength or aggression by all the time giving your dog loads of space and a simple escape route and all the time moving away, never towards, your dog.

Show Trust and be Disarming

To encourage your insecure dog to trust you, show trust in them. Get down in your dog’s level and permit them to approach your face. Yawn ceaselessly, as yawning is interpreted by dogs as an indication that you just mean them no harm.

In case your dog is willing to be touched by you, touch them in ways in which make it easy for them to defend themselves.

Scratching the chest and under the chin is significantly better than reaching over the top or back. Avoid physically restraining your dog unless it is completely crucial.

Take Slow Walks

Once your dog is trusting enough to will let you leash them and lead them around, walks could be a superb strategy to construct confidence. Most dogs love going for walks.

Walking together draws out deep instincts of being a part of a pack, moving through the world together.

As you’re walking, let your dog sniff as much as they like. Sniffing is a sign of curiosity and interest, which is the alternative of insecurity and submission. The more your dog sniffs, the more likely they’re to return out of their shell.

If there may be one other dog within the family, going for a walk with each dogs is an awesome strategy to encourage your insecure dog to achieve confidence from the opposite dog.

Obedience Training

Basic training might be an awesome strategy to get your fearful dog fascinated about something positive and help them to construct confidence.

Owners often wish to wait until their dog seems less insecure to start obedience training, but actually, training could be a powerful strategy to help your dog to be less fearful.

Keep training sessions short and be sure that they’re all the time positive. Using treats as rewards is an awesome strategy to motivate a fearful dog.

Clicker training might be extremely effective when obedience training insecure dogs, particularly dogs which have been abused.

A clicker doesn’t have any negative connotation similar to a human voice might need. Moreover, because a clicker is constant with none irregularities, it may possibly be easier for dogs to learn to associate with rewards.

Reward Self-assurance Behavior

dog looking at the treat

Listen to your fearful dog’s behavior and be quick to reward them every time they show confidence. Did your dog enter a room that they were previously afraid to enter?

Toss them a treat. Did your dog approach you for petting? Give affection immediately and warmly. Did your dog bring you a toy? Play a mild game of tug or toss the toy for them.

Each time you see your dog displaying confidence of any kind, be quick with a reward. It’s a great idea to hold a pocket filled with treats with you for this purpose.

*One vital note on rewarding confident behavior: watch out that your reward doesn’t find yourself being a punishment. Very fearful dogs may reply to your voice or attention negatively.

If that is so to your dog, just quietly toss a treat without acknowledging the dog in order that they receive a reward but aren’t made more nervous by having to interact with you.


It may take numerous time to assist your fearful dog come out of their shell, but every step is deeply rewarding. You’ll be able to start with the dog confidence-building exercises described above.

The primary time a fearful dog relaxes and enjoys getting petted, plays with you, or trots confidently together with you on a walk will probably be a moment you won’t soon forget.

Every phase of your fearful dog gaining confidence is a moment you’ll have a good time.

In case your dog seems to have plateaued of their confidence-building and drugs and lifestyle changes aren’t helping, don’t feel disillusioned.

Not every dog will gain the arrogance of other dogs, but they’ll still be loving and devoted companions. Working to construct their confidence throughout their life can proceed to learn them.


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