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Dealing with a Fearful Dog

Recently, my group courses had numerous fearful dogs.  As a result I thought it would be helpful to write about fearful dog training. Salt Lake City has many people struggling with fearful dogs.  If you have a fearful dog you probably understand that times can be a bit challenging and stressful for you too.  There are many triggers that set your dog into a fearful spiral that can be hard to shift.  As a result, I am hoping these tips will support you in creating your dog and yourself to be more relaxed and calm.  With consistency and patience, you can create obedience with your fearful dog.

1.) If you are into clicker training consider using an i-Click.  The i-click is much softer in sound than a regular clicker.  You can also use a verbal bridge such as “yes” instead of a regular clicker.

2.) Take training slowly and go at the pace your dog needs.  Rushing a fearful dog will only create your dog to become more stressed and unresponsive.  Small incremental steps are important.

3.) Train your dog the “target” command.  This command is great for moving your dog and will help him adjust to certain scenarios.  “Target” can be used to encourage your dog to move around or to become acclimated in uncomfortable situations.

4.) Use systematic desensitization when dealing with any trigger that is creating fear in your dog.

5.) Natural remedies can be very supportive in releasing fear such as Tryptophan in dog treats, lavender essential oils, Bach Flowers, and DAP.

6.) The thundershirt can be another great product that can assist in releasing fear.

7.) Consider using TTouch or Acupuncture to calm your dog.

8.) Use only reward-based dog training.  Salt Lake City has plenty of positive reinforcement dog training options.  If you are struggling, working with a professional will create easier dog training.

9.) Breath and do activities that will ground you.  Yoga and exercise can support you in feeling more relaxed and present when training obedience to your fearful dog.

We want to hear from you in a comment below.

What issues are currently happening with your dog?


Johanna Teresi, Professional Trainer and Owner of Four Legged Scholars LLC, Dog Training, Salt Lake City


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