You Can Teach Your Dog Not To Be Afaid of People

Dogs can be shy unless well socialized

Many new pets, especially dogs, if not socialized enough, can be fearful of people.Whether the dog is from a shelter, breeder or foster home, the process can be very challenging for your new canine family member. It is not unusual for many dogs to be fearful of people, sometimes due to past abuse, natural anxiety, or lack of necessary socialization.The friendly folks at your local Rockford Petsmart at 6320 East State Street or Petco at 6305 East State Street can help with training tips and supplies. With patience, desensitization techniques, and positive reinforcement, you can help your dog overcome its fear of people.

To begin with, expose your dog to as many people as possible, making sure you instruct them not to force themselves on your dog. You want it to feel that people are not a threat, so protect it from any unwanted attention.

The earlier you start your training with your dog, the more successful you will be; however, the process also may work with a shy adult dog as well. It may just take a little more time and patience on your part. Some dogs never get over their shyness, in which case you must manage the behavior by not putting your dog in situations where it will be afraid.

Instruct people that come to your home to speak in a soft tone of voice, move slowly with their hands kept at their sides, and not to make eye contact with your dog.  Additionally, ask them to sit or squat once they enter your home; dogs feel less anxious when people are on their level. Show people how to touch your dog appropriately: never pat on top of the head (which is a canine show of dominance); but scratch behind the ears or under the throat.

Implement people-oriented training. Take along treats when you walk your dog, giving the treats to cooperative people you meet along the way. Hand them treats to give to your dog; praise it for accepting the treat. In this manner, you are building a positive association between your dog and the people it meets.

Continue your training on a daily basis until your dog’s fears disappear, or at least are reduced. Training your dog to get comfortable around people may take months, especially if it is an older dog. Be patient and consistent. Enlist the assistance of friends and family to help you by having them visit often and to meet you on walks, while socializing your dog.

End all training sessions on a good note, when the dog performs the acceptable behavior followed by a treat and praise. The next session should begin on a positive note as well.

Never scold your dog for being afraid; this will only increase the fears and reinforce a negative association with people. With these techniques, patience and perseverance on your part, you can have a happy, healthy and friendly pup.

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