Is your new dog a scaredy cat?
So you got a new dog. But the only problem is this dog is a big ole scaredy cat about everything! Don’t worry, you are not alone. This big world can be overstimulating for a dog, especially since their senses like smell and hearing are heightened to a degree that we could only ever imagine. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your pup come out of their shell and be a more well-adjusted dog.
Firstly, I would highly recommend obedience training. Your dog will feel more comfortable when they have you to look up to in scary situations. Starting with the “look at me” cue and providing positive reinforcement when they have their focus on you is key. Teaching them things like sit, lie down, and other tricks is also a great way to keep their attention away from any scary things going on and back on you, their protector. You want to become the most exciting thing your pup watches out for, which will take attention off of the big and scary things in this world.
Second, if there is something that is scary to them, you are not going to want to just throw them right in the middle of it. This will create a lack of trust with you and your dog. You want your dog to trust you, you are best friends after all! What you are gonna want to do instead is start far away from scary things. A lot of dogs won’t take a treat when they are super scared, so you're gonna want to be far enough away from it that they are under their stress threshold. You then can slowly get closer and closer, all while having your dog’s attention on you, until they get close to that stimuli and have become desensitized to it. Positive situations will build their trust slowly but one bad situation can set their progress back for months, so you’ll want to do a super slow introduction.
If your pup is scared of busy places what you’ll want to do is try and find a time when it’s less busy. You will use your “look at me, sit, lay down” or any other training you have worked on as a distraction. Once your dog is walking around calmly and has gotten used to it, you can come back when it’s a bit busier. It’s all about trust and all about working your way up to being okay with that thing they are scared of. After working with them and giving them the patience needed to build up their confidence you will have a well adjusted pup who's ready to take on the world!
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