How To Help Your Anxious Dog Gain Confidence: Dog Training in Northern Virginia
Just like humans have all kinds of personalities, dogs are no different. Some dogs will be affectionate, approachable, playful, energetic, and happy greeters (the kind of dog every dog owner aspires to have). However, sometimes you may have a shy, timid, and even fearful pup.
Fear and anxiety are common traits in all animals. While there is a possibility that a fearful dog may have suffered a trauma or abuse in the past, most of the time, this fear is a result of genetics or a lack of experience with whatever frightens them. Such dogs deserve to be loved just like their playful and energetic counterparts.
Usually, fearful dogs tend to avoid whatever frightens them, just like you would avoid a situation that makes you uncomfortable. If such a pup can’t escape the source of their fear, they appear uninterested or depressed and may tremble, cower, pace, or in extreme circumstances, growl, whine, bark, or lunge at other humans and dogs. If your dog demonstrates such behaviors, you need to know how to handle them to help build their confidence.
How To Manage a Nervous or Fearful Dog
Here are different ways to help build confidence in your fearful or nervous dog.
Don’t Force Them to Confront Their Fears
For many dog owners, this might seem logical, but doing so only worsens the situation. Dogs communicate their fear and discomfort differently, such as trembling, barking, or lunging at someone or another dog.
If your dog growls or aggressively barks at someone they’re meeting for the first time, don’t force them to get along. Your pup is already telling you they are uncomfortable, and if pushed, they might snap or bite. The best thing you can do is give your pup some space.
Monitor Your Dog’s Behavior
If your dog is showing signs of aggression or fear, you need to keep a log of what triggers these fears to help avoid them in the future. Sometimes, your dog may need anti-anxiety medication if the triggers are hard to identify. Talk to your veterinarian about the best course of treatment.
Establish A Safe Haven
If your dog is fearful, they usually retreat to the closet, bedroom, or covered kennel to feel safe. The least you can do is ensure that there is a haven for them in your home to retreat to when feelings of fear creep in. Ensure that this area is away from regular traffic in your home and that it is warm and comforting.
Don’t Punish Them
Your dog is scared and is dealing with the perceived threat the only way they know how. Shouting at your pup or punishing them because they are growling or barking will only exacerbate the behavior. Note what is causing your dog to feel threatened or uncomfortable and remove them from the situation.
Build Trust With Your Pup
Building trust with your dog is a huge part of being a dog owner. You need to respect their needs and social behaviors. Some dogs don’t enjoy being kissed or hugged; you have to respect that. Don’t invade your dog’s personal space unless they invite you to. Always ask them to come to your space first; don’t force it if they refuse.
Foster Positive Interactions
Belly rubs and treats go a long way in boosting your dog’s confidence, especially when dog training. You don’t want to yell or punish a pup, especially when they have anxiety issues. Rather rewarding good behavior with praise, treats, or toys can help your furry friend differentiate between right and wrong. Use commands like “good dog” for positive reinforcement and consistently praise specific behavior.
Confidence Building Dog Training in Northern Virginia
Handling a fearful or anxious dog isn’t easy, especially when the resulting reaction is aggression towards you, other people, or dogs. It wouldn’t hurt to turn to a professional dog trainer in such a case. If you are in Northern Virginia and looking for dog confidence-building training, you can turn to Off Leash K9 Training.
As Northern Virginia’s #1 dog training company, Off Leash K9 Training focuses on high-level, precision obedience training under distraction. Our trainers are experienced in eliminating problem behaviors such as anxiety or aggression regardless of your dog’s size, breed, and age.
We have a comprehensive 8-week aggression/anxiety training program for dogs with aggression and reactivity issues around people and other dogs. The program encompasses basic obedience training and other lessons to help build confidence in your dog. The 8-lesson program helps give your dog the tools, skills, and desensitization necessary to help them handle any situation that may come their way and put you back in control.
If that doesn’t work for you, we have an immersive one-week and two-week board and train program whereby your dog boards with a pro trainer for some time and returns to you once the bad behaviors are eliminated. Contact Off Leash K9 Training today for a confident, obedient, distraction-proof pup.