Helping a Pup with Her Fear and Anxiety

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 8, 2022

helping this pup with her fear and anxiety

For this Marina Del Ray dog training session, we worked with five month old lab pup, helping a pup with her fear and anxiety about boundaries and some unknown objects.

Being a rescue puppy, we’re not sure exactly what happened to Luna prior to finding her amazing guardian. Although she did have a scary offleash incident, her guardian mentioned that her fears and phobias were present the day she came home.

I spent a good portion of the session softly interacting with Luna. I could tell that she was incredibly stressed out and uncomfortable by her body language. Her ears were pinned back, she was breathing heavily with a closed mouth and snapping her head around due to the cortisol in her blood.

I gave her guardian some suggestions about petting and touching her. There were a few interactions were Luna was offering cut off signals that many people are not aware of. Most people miss these signals, even from their own dogs so we discussed dog consent as well as canine cut off signals and where dogs like ot be petted.

I noticed that Luna was also leaning away with her guardian tried to put the leash or harness on so I walked her through an exercise to make a dog feel comfirtable having the haress put on.

Because Luna was so uncomfortable, I wanted to take her out for a walk as her guardian mentioned that being outside makes her feel more relaxed so we headed to the beach. Luna was still uncomfortable as we were walking along the path, but as we approached the beach, some of her body language relaxed.

We encountered another dog on the beach and spent a few minutes letting them interact. I was hoping that the social interaction would help. Luna relax even further, but the dogs kind of just hung out instead of playing. I used the time to go over some body language signals so her guardaian can better read her pup.

Walks can be a great way to help a scared puppy or dog. The forward movement keeps a stream of distractions coming which can be slightly distracting from their fears. Additionally the open space can help the dog feel more relaxed and comfortable.

After giving her a chance to breathe and relax somewhat, we headed back to her home so that I could show her guardian an exercise to help with her puppy’s feaful behavior.

Helping a pup with her fear and anxiety problems

I like to call this exercise, click for looks, and it’s a great way to help a dog become comfortable around things that they are fearful of. Its important to first load a marker word or clicker if you want to do this exercise. If you dont know how to load a clicker or marker work, check out this video first.

If you have a puppy or adult dog who is scared of a person place or thing, this is a great exercise to help them gain confidence. Watch the free positive dog training video below for more information on this easy dog behavior modification exercise.

Because the cleaning lady was there on a day she normally doesn’t work and this behavior session was at the same time, Luna was overly tired and more stressed than usual. Still, her guardian seem to pick up on this exercise to help fearful dogs. I am hopeful that she can start using this easy trick to help fearful dogs to help Luna feel more comfortable and relaxed around things that she has fear and anxiety about.

I didn’t get a chance to do as many exercises as I like for my LA in home dog training sessions due to how fearful Luna was.  But when you are dealing with a feaful puppy its important to go at their pace. Ideally she should be in a positive puppy school. Id like her guardian to see if there is a puppy socialization class Luna can attend to develop social skills with other pups which can also have a positive impact on her confidence and well being.

Another exercise her guardian can work on is hand targeting; teaching Luna to touch her hand with her nose. This is a great cue to teach feaful dogs as it can help the human identify if the dog is too fearful to approach or move. It also allows us to move or reposition dogs without manhandling them. It also make a nice alternative recall.

At the end of this in home Marina del Rey puppy training session, her guardian and I agreed that she needed a few follow-up sessions. I look forward to working with her to help this lovely puppy game confidence.

It can be heartbreaking to see a fearful puppy, but as a Dog Behavior expert, helping dogs and pups get over their fears is one of my favorite things to do.

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This post was written by: David Codr