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Caring For A Fearful Dog
August 15, 2023

Do you have a nervous pup on your hands? Sadly, this isn’t uncommon in pets. We see it a lot in shelter dogs, as many of them have been scarred and scared by past experiences. However, fearfulness doesn’t always stem from prior abuse: some of our canine pals are just timid and shy by nature. Improper socialization can also cause Fido to become anxious and fearful. An Emerson, NJ veterinarian offers some advice on caring for a scaredy-dog in this article.

Signs Of Fearfulness

Fearfulness often manifests as cowering or trembling, but those aren’t the only signs. Fido may yawn or pace nervously if he’s unsettled. Fearfulness can also cause our canine friends to become aggressive, so your pooch may also growl or bark as a fear reaction. In some cases, fearful pups will lunge at people or other dogs. Needless to say, this can be very dangerous behavior. Large dogs pose the biggest threat as far as having potential to cause injuries, but that doesn’t mean the behavior is acceptable for small breeds. Even Chihuahua bites can cause injuries!

What To Do

First and foremost, don’t force Fido to interact with or be around things or people he isn’t comfortable with. You may need to work on socialization. Just pay close attention to your furry pal’s body language. As soon as you notice signs of distress, such as licking the lips, end the session and bring your pooch home. You can also work on helping your pup build confidence. Training can go a long way with that.

It’s worth noting that taking time to learn about doggy body language can be extremely helpful here. For instance, everyone knows that dogs wag their tails when they’re happy and excited. However, it isn’t quite that simple. A slow tail wag actually means the opposite, and is a warning sign the Fido is feeling uneasy.

What Not To Do

There are also a few don’ts. Never punish your canine buddy for being anxious. Fido may soil inappropriately out of fear, but yelling at him for making a mess will only make him more anxious. Focus on rewarding positive behavior. Love, time, and patience are all important. 

Getting Help

Consider consulting a pet behaviorist. Professional guidance can make a world of difference!

Do you have questions about doggy anxiety? Contact us, your local Emerson, NJ animal clinic, today!