Fearful Dogs


As a dog trainer, I come across this issue so often. Having a dog that is fearful of sounds, people, dogs, etc. It’s very challenging not knowing what to do with a dog that is fearful. My wife and I rescued our dog Dexter over 5 years ago, and he’s been a lot of work since he was pretty much scared of everything. I’ve put a lot of time into training with him and creating positive experiences, and also knowing his threshold and preventing him from reacting.

When working with fearful dogs, it’s important to know your dog’s triggers as well as his/her proximity to these triggers. The goal is to never have your dog react; remember that it’s all about prevention and management. As long as you have a good behaviour modification program in place, it will aid you in success when working with your fearful dog. Be sure to reach out to a qualified dog trainer when working a fearful dog. I see so many people getting mad at their dog when they bark or lunge at something that may be scary to them. It definitely can be embarrassing when you’re in public, but imagine how stressful it is for your dog to be in that state all the time. This is just how dogs communicate to you when they don’t like something. For me, as a trainer, I never want to punish a dog when they display these behaviours. Every time you punish your dog for displaying fearful tendencies, eventually, he/she will know that they’ll get in trouble so they’ll start skipping these behaviours and worsen over time. Have you ever heard of the expression, “calm before the storm“? Well, this is exactly what happens when you punish your dog for showing that he/she is uncomfortable with something.

Keep in mind that fear can turn into aggression. If you don’t address this sooner than later, then your dog’s behaviour can and will escalate, so do your best to keep your dog safe as well as those around you.

If this is something you’re experiencing with your dog, be sure to reach out to a positive reinforcement trainer who uses force-free methods to help you with your fearful dog.

Glen Quart


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