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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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’re constantly stressed out, especially if you are stressed while spending time with your dog – they are likely to become stressed themselves. This can lead to fear and even aggression issues.

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

Austrailian shepherd dog runningAnother 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.

Your dog did not just decide to be fearful of you or anyone for that matter. Every effect has a cause and in this case, you need to show your dog over time that you are someone they can rely on.

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

See more about the Brain Training program. Currently retailing for $47, the program can be accessed instantly.



  1. barbara illingworth 4 months ago

    Iv’e had my baby Sali for 13 years. I never hit or shout at either of my babies. Sali is a Jack Russell cross and has always been a barker but the last few months it has got unbearable. As a last resort I bought a Citronella Collar which has lessened the barking but now she won’t come near me even at food time. She waits till I move away. All of this is out of character. I am so desperate now

  2. Maricruz 4 months ago

    I actually have a question…And the backstory is my poohuahua had puppies and she left the runt behind and I hand raised her and she nursed the other puppy. Every now n then, I would take the one I was raising to feed from her and she allowed it. Now, I never once grabbed her other puppy, because I thought maybe mom was gonna be upset, but I would take a looksie on her and spoke to her while she grew…But as she got a little older (walking) she (the puppy) started shying away from me and afraid of me grabbing her. And the day i did grab her she cried out like i was hurting her, but I wasn’t. I spoke ro her softly, caressed her softly and rubbed her behind the ears softly and still she just wasn’t having it. Up until not that puppy just wont ler me touch her. How can i get her to befriend me? Shes in a dog kennel with mom and her sister but everytime I get close to sister, she runs the other way. I dont want to traumatize her more, I just want her to know that i’m there for her amd that she can trust me. Please help?

  3. Joshua 4 months ago

    Hi, so my Wife and I adopted a dog about three months ago from a rescue. The dog loves My Wife. But is scared of me, and barks at me every time I come home, or am in another room for too long and reappear. It’s as if shes forgotten who I am. She also won’t come near me. This is a huge bummer. I have always liked dogs. And this dog is cool but i dont know how to get her to stop barking and growling at me. And to come to me, and actually want to be near me.

    • James 4 months ago

      If possible, always have delicious treats with you. Every time the dog quietens down, or comes near you, give her a treat. Always say her name when seeing her. Be patient, it may take some time. She has clearly had some event in her past that has affected her.

  4. Nalilynn 3 months ago

    So my grandma’s dog Coco is a long hair chuwawa and she has never bitten or snapped at anybody until I got back from visiting my mom… I have been gone for 7 weeks and when I came back she has been really scared of me and running away from me and yesterday she bit me and today she snapped at me idk what I can do to fix it pls help