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Right now I am working with a client who has rescued a very fearful dog. It appears to me that this dog was kept in a cage or backyard early in its life, never experiencing the outside world. Due to this she is afraid of almost everything outside. This is why it is so important to socialize your dog at a young age.

One of the most important things to know when handling fearful dogs is to not baby them when they are scared. This means no petting, cute voices or even eye contact. The dog needs to work through their fears on their own to realize that nothing bad is going to happen and giving them affection during their fearful state will tell them that it is okay to be in that state of mind.

You need to expose your dog to what they are fearful to as often as possible and help them to realize that there is nothing to be afraid of without using words. Here is an example; if you walk past something that your dog is afraid of, let’s say a garbage truck or construction site, when you see your dog getting scared turn around and walk past it again, don’t say anything to your dog simply stay calm and keep walking back and forth past the fearful noise or item until your dog is able to walk past with their tail normal (not between the legs) and not reacting, then praise and keep on going!

If they are afraid of skateboards, take them to an outdoor skate park, walk them in and around thehn take them out. Walk them in again and around, then take them out. Keep taking them in and out, or near and away until they are not fearful when approaching and walking in, then praise as much as you’d like.

Just remember that fearful dogs take a very long time to rehabilitate. You must put your dog into the situations that they are fearful of as often as possible. If you can take some time out of your day everyday it will help a lot. If you stop once they are no longer fearful, expect them to generate the fears all over again. Please always be calm and patient when working with fearful dogs.

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