Lowering your dog’s stress level will give your dog the chance to learn new skills and behaviors.
One way to help a fearful dog become a more confident dog is by doing Play, Exercise, Training therapy (otherwise known as P.E.T.):
- Play – If your dog is afraid to play (with or without you), try to change your dog’s surroundings. Give him a place to play that he definitely feels safe. Play there all the time until he is finally 100% confident playing. Then, move the play behavior to another location and try to get your dog comfortable playing there as well. Find out what really makes your dog tick when it comes to playing. For some dogs, it’s rough-housing. For other dogs, it’s trying to find a bone or treats that you’ve hidden from them. But don’t move to another play area until your dog is completely comfortable with the first location.
- Exercise – All forms of exercise can help your dog cope with stress. Exercise gives your dog freedom to simply be a dog. (It’s also beneficial to your dog’s health!) Doggie exercise usually takes place in the form of active play with your dog. Try to give your dog a good amount of exercise each and every day. This will build his confidence level.
- Training – By training your dog, you are building his confidence level and helping him remain stress free. Training a fearful dog (which includes everything from simple daily tasks to advanced dog tricks), gives the dog a reason to feel good about himself. He starts to realize that he has a purpose.
If your dog is fearful around strangers in public, remember is that your dog takes cues from you. How you are feeling is very obvious to dogs. Your dog can pick up on your emotions quicker than you may realize your own personal feelings. So, keep your emotions in check if you want to help your fearful dog be more comfortable around strangers.