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Helping Out Your Fearful Dog

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dog obediance trainingIt’s truly a tragedy that most people don’t quite understand fearful dogs, and even worse that in trying to help them with their issues they often aggravate things instead. Nervous and anxious dogs have one simple problem: they lack a strong pack leader. Their owners are often quite nice and gentle folks, they just want to see their dog live a life that is joyous and free.

What these people often don’t realize is that their dog is frightened for one simple reason: their human buddy is giving them the signal that they are the alpha in their interspecies pack. The dog often isn’t able to handle it, and can you blame them? A lot of us can barely be responsible for ourselves, try being responsible for something that’s at least three or four times your size.

Here’s a simple metaphor to lay things out: you’re a young child and find yourself deep in a darkened section of the forest with your younger sibling. There are nefarious noises going on, and shadows dance just out of your line of direct vision and you’re not sure what to do. If only your parents were there, you know you would be fine, and why? Because you’d no longer be in charge, and instead there would be someone there who actually knows what to do.

That’s how it is for your canine when you thrust the leadership role upon them. They know they’re not up to it, and they just want to make sure that both of you make it everywhere in one piece.

They live a dog’s life, our lives are far more complex and they’re simply not able to be competently in charge. They have to make decisions about things that are completely foreign to their natural instincts and eventually they’ll crack up under the pressure and snap.

dog trainingTo help your dog regain its dignity, it’s essential that you become the alpha. We suggest you watch some videos rather than reading about it, the whole process requires a lot of body language and needs to be seen to be properly understood.

At any rate, here are a few things to remember when you’re working with an anxious dog:

  • It Can Change- You can change this behavior, but don’t push things too quickly or you risk undoing all of the progress you’ve made.
  • Be the Leader- You need to be the bold pack leader that your dog desperately needs, they’re not equipped for this role at all.
  • Keep People Away- Keep folks away from your dog until they’ve regained their confidence, let your pet calm down and then have them call out to see what happens. If they don’t come, let the moment pass and leave them alone.

So, watch some videos and put them into action. What you need to do is help your dog to know that you have their back, and you’re in charge.

Making sure that you’re the pack leader is the best way to help an anxious, fearful dog blossom into the confident canine you know they are. If you don’t establish yourself as the leader, however, you’re doomed to be met with failure.

This dog training series is based on the program of the extremely talented dog trainer Daniel Abdelnoor, better known as “Doggy Dan”. We are great fans of him and he offered you as our reader a resource guide of his dog training basics. You can download it here on our site for free:

He offers also a great 4 Part Video Series which has already helped a lot of people (and is entertaining at the same time):


Susan Cropper

As a veterinarian practicing for 48 years, Dr. Cropper brings her priceless experience to all our readers. She is currently taking care of her two rescues, Ollie the Greyhound and Bryce the Pitbull mix, that is why she always sees things as a veterinarian and a pet owner simultaneously.

View all posts by Susan Cropper | DogsRecommend.com