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Dog is Scared: How to Help Him

Read here how you can help your dog with anxiety and where the anxiety comes from.

Every dog is afraid, it’s natural. However, you should do something if your dog is constantly defensive and ready to flee. Here you can find out where these fears can come from and how you, as a dog owner, can deal with your anxious four-legged friend.

Dog’s primal fears

If animals in the wild weren’t afraid, they would hardly have a chance of surviving: Dangers have to be recognized early in order to be able to flee in time. Dogs also carry both genetic and acquired fears.

The primal fears include, for example, the fears of

  • large, upright creatures (e.g. bear)
  • the abandonment
  • Gunshots, thunderstorms or hissing noises
  • narrow and dark spaces or shadows

However, such primal fears can disappear through good experiences.

Acquired Fears

Acquired fears are experiences that dogs have had. If your dog gets sick while driving, it can happen that he sees the car as a bad thing in the future. The same applies to outdated training methods that cause pain: They permanently cause fear in the dog and have no educational value.

How can humans help?

Comforting and coaxing the dog can confirm the dog’s fear. Anxious or aggressive dogs should be calmed down first. This is how the dog sees that there is someone he can trust.

If your dog gets scared during the walk, keep him calm and on a leash. Don’t talk, scold, or move. Wait for your dog to calm down and become responsive again. With a toy or a small task, check if your dog is ready to socialize with you again.

If the dog is anxious or jumpy when walking, you should put a safety harness on it. It prevents the dog from panicking while walking.

Touch the scared dog

If the dog is afraid of contact, it helps to slowly rub the dog from the tip of the nose to the hind paws (Tellington touch). Speak monotonously or not at all. The Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas recommends meeting shy dogs in their own language, with the “calming signals” such as turning your head away, averting your eyes, making yourself small, yawning, and never bending over them.

Whichever method you choose: Only with patience, empathy and knowledge of behavior can you overcome or redirect fears.

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