Helping a Fearful Dog Stop Feeling Anxious When Meeting New Men

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 24, 2018

For this Omaha dog and puppy training session we helped Sam, a formerly abused 5 year-old is a Lab / Pit mix who can act aggressive to male house guests. Her new roomie, 6 month-old German Shepherd puppy Loki is starting to pick up on some of her unwanted behavior; something the guardians wanted to put a stop to right away as he will grow into a very big dog.

I called ahead to set the dogs up for success during the greeting. Loki was the dog the guardians were more concerned about so I had them put Sam away so we could focus on creating a positive experience for Loki.

I used some dog behavior expert tricks to help Loki stop growling and barking in protest when I first arrived. After a few minutes, he was taking treats from my hand and laying down beside me. With Loki comfortable, the guardians put him outside so that I could meet Sam.

Sam was grumpy as soon as she came into the room. After observing her for a few minutes I could tell she had an eye contact dominance problem as well as trust issues with new people, especially men. I avoided eye contact, used fluid movements and refrained from trying to pet her.

I left some treats strategically positioned around the room before she entered which she really responded to so I repeated a version of that strategy with her in the room. After trying out different approaches, she started to warm up to me.

To help the guardians repeat my method and help her stop being fearful around new people, I handed a family member my camera so I could recreate the greeting and customized techniques.

Its sad to see a dog who is anxious or fearful around people, especially because it doesn’t have to be that way. Teaching a dog to trust humans is all about building up positive experiences one at a time.

Sam is not an aggressive dog, she was just confused about her position and had issues with unknown people looking her directly in the eye. This is not unusual as in the dog world, direct eye contact can be a challenge.

If the guardians practice this positively reinforced greeting and focus exercise a few times a week for the next week or two, they should help Sam get over her fear of strangers or new people.

We spent some time with Loki on some basic puppy training and behavior problems like what to do if he mouthes them, jumps up or how to teach him to stay away from the table during meals.

I also showed them how to get a dog to drop things and leave things on the floor, but signing him up for our puppy socialization class is going to extremely helpful too.

Loki is behind on socialization with other dogs and the 30 minutes we include in each of our puppy classes is devoted to play which will help him tremendously. You want to get a dog as much socialization practice as possible before it turns 9 months old. It would have been better to start sooner, but he is still young enough to get into our 201 and 301 classes if he starts in June.

To help the guardians remember all the positive dog training tips we shared in this at home puppy training session, we shot a roadmap to success in the back yard. You can get a ton of free dog behavior tips and see Loki get a little mischievous by watching the video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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