It can be exhausting and emotional living with a fearful dog. Whether your dog is struggling with stranger danger, separation anxiety, resource guarding or any other fear based behavioral issue, as much as you love your dog, on some days I’m sure you’ve wished your dog could just be “normal.” I get it. Long before I was a trainer and long before I knew the right things to do, I lived with a human aggressive dog who bit 7 people including me and my husband, both in the face. I understand the agony of not being able to go on vacation, not being able to have people over or to be able to leave your house.
And there’s a lot of advice online and from well-meaning friends and family. But, because dog training is unregulated in the US and so many people have their own anecdotal experiences, much of that advice often leads people astray, at best and at worse, makes the fear worse.
Here are 5 of the most common mistakes people make with fearful dogs:
- Having strangers hand feed your fearful dog
- Punishing your dog’s communication and warning signs, like growling or barking
- Assuming all reactivity is fear-based
- Not using high value, human food for training
- Thinking exposure is the same as socialization
I know you desperately want to help your fearful dog and I commend you. But I also encourage you to seek out qualified, professional guidance so you’re not making things worse.
As I’ve said many times before, in the US, dog training is unregulated. And taking advice from friends and family might seem like it’s not hurting but as you can see, even the most benign seeming thing, like having strangers try to hand feed your fearful dog, can make things worse. Find competent help. If you need help, please reach out for help and let’s make a plan. Schedule your session here!
There is no regulation, licensing or consumer protection in dog training in the US. So there’s very little you can do if your dog gets worse from these antiquated methods. Credentials matter. Read my post of the Muddy Language of Dog Titles here for more detail on credentials.