Helping a Rescue Dog Get Over Her Fear of Humans

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 22, 2020

Lincoln and Lizzie - Helping a Rescue Dog Get Over Her Fear of Humans

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with a fearful rescue Labradoodle named Lizzie (Pictured here with her Pal Lincoln), helping her get over a fear of people.

Lizzie and Lincoln were both excited when I arrived for the session so I had the guardian wait for them to settle down before opening the door. This is a great way to help excited dogs calm down on their own. As soon as they get calm and quiet on their own, the person starts the process of entering. As soon as they get excited, the process stops. With practice the dogs learn to calm themselves down.

Knowing that Lizzie was fearful of people, I ignored her. No engagement, no talking to, no attempts to pet. This piqued her curiosity and once that was the case, I started dropping treats between us. At first she would only take the treats farthest away from me, but since I wasn’t even looking her way, she grew bolder and started creeping closer.

After an hour or so, she was cloing close enough to get treats off the couch next to me. I started offering a treat off to my side. She started to sniff, then touch my hand. These are big steps for a fearful dog. When you are trying to help a dog who is scared or keeps its distance from people the trick is to create scenarios where the dog is motivated to come closer, on their own volition. Each time they do, something good happens with the absence of anything the dog doesn’t want. In this case the human reaching towards her.

It took many offerings and lots of patience, but eventually Lizzie was taking treats directly form my hand. Since the guardian had difficulty doing this at times, I knew we were making great progress with this dog’s fears of humans. I tried a few other tricks to help fearful dogs that worked and decided to film a positive dog training video summering them.

Helping a dog get over a fear of people is a slow process, but if you are patient and keep it rewarding for the dog, you can help a dog learn to stop fearing people. Id like the guardian to arrange for at least one person a week to come over and follow these secrets to helping a fearful dog. More would be better, but the key is momentum. If its a regular weekly event, it will help the dog develop confidence which will be amazingly helpful for Lizzie.

To help the guardian remember all the positive dog training tips I shared in this in home Omaha dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr