My Dog is Afraid of Me: What do I do?
One of the worst things that could happen to a pet parent is for your dog (or cat for that matter) to be afraid of you.
How are you supposed to love and care for a pet who won’t go near you, after all?
It can make the trust between you and your dog difficult if your dog is afraid of you for any reason. A fearful dog can react cowardly or aggressively and neither are acceptable behavior for a dog, especially not towards their owner!
Why is My Dog Afraid of Me?
There are multiple scenarios that could lead to your dog becoming fearful of you.
- You recently bought your dog home from a rescue
It’s highly likely that the dog hasn’t had a stable family life. This can lead them to be slow to trust anyone.
- Your puppy came from a pet store
Some of the ‘puppy-mill’ dogs from pet stores might not be treated with the same love and affection as those raised by breeders. Some of the them may have very poor human interaction at the start of their life. This can lead to deep-rooted trust issues.
If you’ve had your dog for a while and they suddenly become afraid of you remember this one thing – there has to be a reason for it.
Your dog would not just suddenly change his feelings about your for no reason at all.
- Perhaps you’ve stepped on his paws or tail a lot lately?
That could make your dog weary of being near you when you are up and moving around. Especially with smaller breeds like Chihuahuas.
- Have you been using negative training methods?
Hitting your dog is never a good idea. Or if you scream and yell when your dog does something wrong. This can easily make your dog a little less trusting of you.
The good news is there are things you can do to fix this problem!
It mostly comes down to a trust issue between your dog and you. It will take lots of time and patience on your part (and your dog’s too), but it will be worth it to have your best furry friend in your favor again!
What Should You Do?
If you are having issues with your dog being fearful and aggressive then you may wish to speak to a veterinarian behaviorist. They will advise you on the best way to gain trust with an aggressive dog – this can be dangerous if done by yourself!
Here are some techniques – though they are simple, they may be all you need to gain your dog’s trust.
1. Create a Positive Atmosphere
Your emotions affect your dog’s emotions. It’s really that simple. If you’re acting angry and aggressive yourself, your dog is going to start acting differently.
If you adopted a rescue who comes from an abusive background then they are likely to be fearful of quick movements, loud sounds and especially yelling and harsh tones.
Creating a positive atmosphere can be extremely helpful with fearful dogs. It helps them to become comfortable in their surroundings. The more you let them know it’s safe, the more likely they are to believe it for themselves.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
Another very important thing to do when trying to gain your dog’s trust is to spend quality time together.
You should spend as much one on one time as possible with your scared dog. This is the best way to help your dog gain your trust!
Some pet parents suggest that if your dog won’t come near you, then you should carry a couple of treats in your pocket at all times. Your dog will smell these treats and eventually be curious enough to approach you.
This is supposed to work as positive reinforcement – your dog will associate you with treats – therefore you must be a good person!
Make sure you are considering your dog’s health and know when to cut out treats. Dogs can quickly become obese if fed too many treats, so plan accordingly, coordinating meals with the number of treats fed.
Once your dog is happily coming up to you for affection regularly you should move onto playtime. Playtime with a ball, a tug toy, a Frisbee or even just a really long walk are all great bonding activities you can enjoy with your dog.
If you have a long-haired breed such as a Golden Retriever then you can even use daily brushing as a way to bond! It’s great for your dog’s coat and once they are comfortable with you and the brush, most dogs love a good brushing.
3. Be Patient
This is going to take time. Whether you just brought home a new rescue or puppy mill pup or you’ve had your dog for years, fear is a sign that your dog does not trust you.
Trust is a bond between you and your dog just like it is between you and your best friend. If your dog does not feel that he can trust you then you need to do what you can to earn that trust!
Is It Time to Invest in a Training Program?
Dog training has come a long way since the days of using fear and domination. Thankfully there are now some wonderful programs out there, that are affordable and accessible.
Adrienne Farricelli is a CPDT-KA certified dog trainer. She now offers a complete online course made up of seven different video-based modules.
Called Brain Training 4 Dogs, the program is particularly successful in correcting bad behavior. It is focused on playing games with your dog, to build trust and confidence