Helping a Scared Little White Dog Come Out of the Shadows

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 12, 2017

Lily is a two-year-old Havanese who was adopted six months ago through our friends at Little White Dog Rescue in Omaha. Her new guardians called us to set up this Dog Psychology behavior training session to help her learn to not be a fearful dog when around new people or situations.

In the above photo you can see Lily raising her right paw with a calming signal to communicate she was not comfortable.

Normally dogs meet me at the door with a flurry of barking, jumping and running around. But being a formerly abused dog, Lily stayed far from the door watching with wide eyes from a little cubby she created for herself on the couch.

Often dogs who go though tough situations will shut down as a way of coping. This is heartbreaking to witness a dog disengage itself from the world in this way. While I hate seeing any dog suffer this way, being able to help dogs in this type of situation is one of the best things about being a dog behavior expert.

Dogs get over things by literally moving forward so I wanted to come up with ways to get Lily doing the same thing. I used a variation of a simple positive dog training exercise and a high value reward to motivate Lily to come out of her little cubby hole and start engaging with the humans.

While discussing things with Lily’s guardians, they were already on the right path. They were walking her often which helps in a number of ways. One suggestion I made was to use treats and other things she finds interesting to get her engaging and interacting with the outside world.

Being patient is key when you are rehabilitating an abused dog like Lily. You don’t want to overwhelm the dog, but you also want to nudge them forward little by little as many dogs with a checkered past get stuck in a suppressed life. That is no way for anyone to live.

To help Lily stop acting fearful in new situations, I shared a number of dog behavior tips that will help. Lily’s dog anxiety isn’t going to go away overnight. But if the guardians continue helping her along this path, she will learn to stop being a fearful dog and go back to enjoying life; looking forward to the future instead of dwelling on what happened to her in the past.

We wrapped things up with a roadmap to success video full of free dog training tips. You can watch it and get these dog training secrets in the video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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