Helping a American Eskimo Stop Fearing New People

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 4, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session, we worked with Odin, a 1 year-old American Eskimo who is fearful of new situations and people who visit his home.

Odin protested with a lot of barking as soon as I came inside his home. I gave him a few moments to settle himself down, but when that didn’t work, I had his guardian leash him up and I took him out for a short walk.

When I got back home, Odin was considerably more comfortable that before the walk. Taking a dog out for a short walk is an old dog behavior expert trick as dogs get over things by moving forward. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop his nuisance barking completely so I used a few additional dog psychology tricks to settle him down and stop dog barking.

To help Odin get over his fear of new people, his guardians will need to take on more of a leader role, at least in the dog’s eyes. Many people think having no rules and structure is a way of “being nice” to the dog. In my experience as a dog behaviorist, I have found that often results in a dog who is confused as to its role in the home.

That was certainly the case with Odin, but I believe it went even farther than that. Because the dog felt like he was in charge, he was trying to communicate directions and commands to his humans and guests. When they didn’t listen to him, that frustrated and stressed him out further.

In order for Odin to relax, his humans will need to take over the leadership role in the home and consistently enforcing rules and structure is a great way to do that.

I also shared my petting with a purpose and passive training approaches to help the humans start rewarding the dog for good behavior instead of the emphasis being on correcting unwanted behaviors.

After discussing changes to his day to day life, I handed my camera over to Odin’s guardians to share tips and suggestions to help the dog feel less threatened when meeting new people.

When a dog is anxious around new people, its often a result of lower self esteem. Same thing for fearful dogs. I recommended that the guardians teach Odin some new tricks and commands; one a week for the next 2-4 months. This will boost Odin’s confidence and also help the humans practice eating like leaders in the dog’s eyes.

Poor little Odin has been pretty stressed out thinking he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Now that his family members know how to communicate with him in a way he understands and respects, it shouldn’t take long for them to start seeing a more relaxed dog with better behavior.

The more the humans pet him with a purpose, recognize good behaviors and enforce the rules, the more confident Odin will become. Combine that with flipping the leader follower dynamic and Odin will stop feeling so nervous around new people as he will no longer think he is responsible for leading, protecting and guarding his family members.

To help the guardians remember all the dog behavior tips I shared with them in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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