One of the most unfortunate things regarding dog ownership is the number of people who misunderstand fearful dogs and who thus, by attempting to improve the situation for their pup, instead make it worse. Fearful dogs almost always lack strong pack leaders in their lives. Their owners are generally extremely gentle and kind individuals who only want to see their dog live a normal, happy life full of fun and freedom, the kind of life that other dogs have.
Cause of Fearfulness
However, these types of owners fail to recognize that their dog is in fact frightened because the owner is not giving him or her the message that they, the owner, are the reliable pack leader. Therefore, the dog is unable to handle the lack of reassurance and stability that is supposed to be provided by the pack leader.
Let me give a hypothetical example to help you understand. Imagine you’re four years old and you find yourself in some dark woods with your younger sibling. Then, you hear an odd noise and see a person coming towards you and your sibling. You’d probably feel very afraid. But if one of your parents were there with you, you’d likely feel much more comforted. This is because you would not be in charge of protecting yourself and your sibling and getting out of the situation. This is how it feels for your dog when they feel you are the pack leader. You are like the parent who will guide them throughout difficult situations, so they don’t have to worry about things.
On the other hand, if fearful dogs do not feel that you are the pack leader, they feel as if all the responsibility to protect and a navigate the world is on their shoulders. The outside world is far too much for a domesticated dog to handle because there are far too many unfamiliar and unpredictable things for them to make decisions about all the time. This pressure will eventually get to them in a bad way unless you help them out.
How to Help Fearful Dogs
To help a fearful dog, you must first demonstrate that you are the reliable pack leader. The best way to go about this is to watch videos teaching you how rather than simply reading about the process.
Here are a couple of pointers that you should remember when working with a fearful dog.
- Although they are definitely capable of change with careful training, they will struggle if you try to rush the process, so take it slow.
- Ask your friends and family to ignore your dog when they first meet him or her. No one should initially approach your dog. Instead, they should wait until he or she has calmed down and then call the pup over. But if she or he doesn’t come when called, then the dog is too scared, and they should just leave him or her alone for that visit.
As should be clear, establishing yourself as the pack leader is the foundation upon which any success in training fearful dogs is built. So be sure learn how to effectively act as the leader in order to help your pup.