Many would-be dog owners are keen to give an animal from animal welfare a good new home. But dogs in particular, which have not had a nice life up to now, are often shy, anxious, and very reserved. For the acclimatization in the new home to go as smoothly as possible, it is helpful to find out in advance about the correct way to deal with so-called scared dogs. Here are some tips on how to help your new protégé reduce anxious behavior.
Tip 1: Always stay calm
Since the state of mind of the owner is transferred to the dog, you should try to remain calm and relaxed in every situation. If the four-legged friend is not yet ready to receive love and affection, he needs time. Forcing this would be fatal and can damage the trust between the dog and the owner. Everyone should keep the situation in mind. The dog may have been hit. Whenever the hand is reached out to pet him, he flinches, afraid of getting spanked again. It may take a while before he builds up the necessary trust and learns that the outstretched hand means to love and affection. Patience is the most important thing for the holder here.
Tip 2: Make your house and garden safe
Scared dogs are sometimes afraid of everything. From grass that moves in the wind, from butterflies or other little things. If the dog is in the garden and a car honks, it can unfortunately quickly happen that he panics. It is therefore particularly important that the garden is dog-friendly and escape-proof. Even if there is only a small gap in the fence or hedge, the dog can escape from the garden when it panics, thereby endangering not only itself but also other road users.
Tip 3: Don’t let your dog off the leash
Anxious dogs are unpredictable and may startle, panic and run at the slightest sound. If the dog from the animal shelter has not yet gained the necessary trust or has not known its new home long enough, it will usually not come back right away. It is therefore important – especially in the early days – to leave the dog on a leash when going for walks. With a chest harness and a long leash, the dog also has the necessary freedom of movement. At the same time, masters and mistresses don’t have to grab the dog on the back or raise their voices unnecessarily when it’s supposed to come back.
Tip 4: Avoid hectic movements
Since you never know what anxiety dogs have experienced, it is important to avoid frantic movements. Here the four-legged friends could panic because they have already experienced these or similar movements and associate them with negative experiences. It is also necessary at first to keep your distance and not to overwhelm the dog with petting and physical closeness. If the dog has to growl or even bite because it’s so panicky that it doesn’t know how to escape, we probably haven’t given it the necessary distance.
Tip 5: Recognize sources of fear
To be able to avert the fearful dog’s reactions in advance, it is important to know the sources of fear. Some dogs only react anxiously outdoors, in the garden, on walks, or around other dogs. In any case, it is important to keep calm at all times and – if possible – to avoid the source of fear. Confronting the dog head-on with the potential source of danger is the wrong approach. It is better to ignore the fear-triggering object or to lead the dog past it with determination and composure.
Tip 6: Don’t leave the dog alone
Particularly anxious dogs should not be left alone in public, for example when shopping in front of the supermarket. Even if you are only in the store for a few minutes, the dog is defenseless during this time and at the mercy of the situation. This can severely affect trust in people. Rather, an exercise program should take place at home that trains the four-legged friend to stay alone sometimes. In the beginning, it is only two minutes, then ten, and at some point, it is easily possible to leave the dog at home alone for a little longer. Of course, after the “alone” time, no matter how short or long it is, a treat should be given.
Tip 7: Spend a lot of time with the dog
For the dog to build trust, it is important to spend a lot of time with the dog. People who work full or part-time should not get an anxious dog. It takes a lot of time and patience for the dog to know that he is fine and that he has nothing to worry about. The end of the day and the weekend alone are not enough to get the dog used to everything new. Only those who have a lot of time permanently should consider adopting a fearful dog.
Tip 8: Don’t worry about dogs in children’s households
The behavior of anxious dogs is not always predictable. For this reason, they should not be kept in a household with small children, especially if it is unclear whether the anxious dog had previous contact with children and was sufficiently socialized. In addition, children cannot assess the triggers of fear and are sometimes rough, loud, and thoughtless. If the dog feels pressured in this situation, it can easily panic and show aggressive behavior. Generally speaking, an encounter should be between dogs and children should always take place under the supervision of an experienced adult.
Tip 9: Visit a dog trainer
Another option is to see a dog trainer, who will then train the dog and take away their fear. During training, the dog learns which behavior is undesirable by positively reinforcing the desired behavior, i.e. rewarding it. The dog owner also learns to read the body language of his four-legged friend correctly and consolidates what he has learned in everyday life. Of course, the method with a dog trainer also requires sufficient time, a lot of patience, and empathy.
Tip 10: Anxiolytic drugs
Of course, the dog can also be treated with medication. However, it is always important to pay attention to natural means. There are now various preparations that have a calming and anxiolytic effect. Acupuncture and acupressure have also proven effective.