How to Talk to a Nervous Dog

How to Talk to a Nervous Dog

Even the most confident dogs will feel nervous sometimes. Fear and anxiety are deeply rooted, automatic responses to real or perceived dangers. These triggers will vary from dog to dog (remember, every dog is different), but triggers might include:

  • Loud noises
  • Strangers
  • Other dogs
  • Small children
  • Confinement

You know your dog best and being alert to their potential triggers will help decrease or prevent their anxiety. So, what should you do when your dog is displaying signs of anxiety?

Showing Love to a Nervous Dog

Dog lovers are sometimes unsure as to what they should do when their dog is nervous, or anxious, because they’re worried they may reinforce the behavior. But, when it comes to fear, anxiety, and stress, there’s a difference.

Let’s think about it from our perspective. Let’s say we’re afraid of small spaces. And, we’re riding in an elevator. If your significant other soothes you while you’re in the elevator, will you stop fearing small spaces? Probably not. But, your significant other soothing you might help, right?

No one likes to be anxious, or scared, and it’s not a reaction that can be easily controlled. Or, really controlled at all. Your dog isn’t acting scared to get your attention. But, how you respond to their fear or anxiety could reduce the intensity of the situation.

Soothing a Nervous Dog

When your talking to your dog, and he is nervous, you should talk softly, and relatively high-pitched. This gets their attention, and may reassure him you’re there and he’s safe.

You should never yell at your dog when she’s nervous or anxious. This will add to their fear or anxiety. And, will likely result in the problem worsening.

Oh, The Treats!

If you’re going somewhere you know your dog will be anxious, or afraid of, bring some treats with you. Treats* will help to re-direct her attention to something more positive… you!

Watch Your Body Language

You’ll hear me talk about body language a lot when referring to canine behavior. That’s because body language is extremely important- for both us and our dog.

If your dog is nervous at home, instead of hovering over him and talking, get down to his level. You may add to his fear by ‘hovering.’ Getting to his level may make him feel more comfortable.

You shouldn’t handle your dog too much, or pet your dog too much, in a fearful situation… unless your dog is looking for you to. Some dogs want you to be right next to them, petting them, comforting them. But, other dogs need a little space when they’re not feeling comfortable. You know your dog the best- so you make this call.

Empathy in Fearful Situations

You should never force your dog into a situation when they’re nervous- whether this be meeting another dog, another person, or being in an unfamiliar space. A nervous dog could become

Dog Talk: The Full Edition

Dog Talk: The Full Edition is now available on Amazon. Discover the world from your dog’s perspective. Learn why your dog is behaving the way she is. And, solutions to nearly every dog behavior problem.  Learn what makes your dog ‘tick,’ how to improve your bond, and methods of training.

The Chapter Outline of Dog Talk: The Full Edition

The chapter outline is as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to the Dog
  • Chapter 2: Canine Intelligence
  • Chapter 3: The Bond We Share
  • Chapter 4: Before You Adopt
  • Chapter 5: Bringing Your Dog Home
  • Chapter 6: Basic Training
  • Chapter 7: Training Methods
  • Chapter 8: Aggression in Dogs
  • Chapter 9: Separation Anxiety
  • Chapter 10: Barking Excessively
  • Chapter 11: Inappropriate Chewing
  • Chapter 12: Preventing Destructive Digging
  • Chapter 13: General Behavioral Problems
  • Chapter 14: Punishment is NOT the Answer
  • Chapter 15: Your Dog’s Health
  • Chapter 16: Canine Nutrition
  • Chapter 17: Dinner and Treat Recipes
  • Chapter 18: Basic Grooming

Amber L. Drake’s Testimonials

  • “Amber is amazing! I was dog sitting when I discovered Mama Husky was pregnant. We knew it couldn’t be a big litter because she was barely showing but none the less… I have never been around a dog giving birth and I had NO IDEA what to do. Luckily I went to school with Amber and we remained friends. I messaged her immediately! She talked me through everything from how the mom was acting to how to handle her after the birth. Mom and baby did wonderfully and made it just fine. If she had not have been there, I don’t know what I would’ve done.” – Noelle W., Lexington, SC
  • “Where to begin? My dog had so many problems. She went to the bathroom indoors, chewed the walls, pillows and anything else she could find. She stole our clothes out of the hamper and hid them all over the house. Attacked our lab and attacked the cats. Tipped the garbage to eat the garbage. Barked anytime she sees anything outside. Jumps on people. Jumped on my kids. With Amber’s help we were able to see some progress. She worked with us every step of the way and was always there when we needed help.” – Paula B., Sherman, NY
  • “Amber’s help with modifying my dog’s behavior has been invaluable. My lab had too many behavior problems to list and Amber helped me every step of the way.” -Sherry S., San Antonio, TX
  • “Amber is amazing at what she does. She spends so much time learning more information to tell us and her heart is really in it.” -Pat B.
  • “Amber did a great job with our dog, Lily. She has never been left in the care of anyone else before so we were nervous to say the least. Lily’s experience with Amber was great. She came home happy. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Amber’s services again!” -Shannon H.
  • “Amber is everything you look for in a canine behaviorist. She’s reliable, compassionate, calm, willing and able to provide expert help, flexible, friendly, and above all reassuring that anything that’s going on with your pup can be worked on.” -Ana P., Jamestown, NY
  • “We brought our dog to Amber’s home after some reactive episodes in bigger daycare programs; his adjustment to Amber and her family was stress-free and very quick. I would recommend Amber to anyone.” -Ana P., Jamestown, NY “Amber did a great job with my dog while we were home for the holidays. Would definitely recommend her services!” -Daniel S. “Amber is professional and super attentive to the needs of our pet. We will be using Amber again.” -Debra W. “We are so thankful for Amber.” -Darlene B., Jamestown, NY “Amber was wonderful to work with. She was super flexible, answered all my questions, and took great care of Luna. I would recommend Amber to anyone!” -Marissa M., Bemus Point, NY
  • “Amber was great with my pup. I will definitely be using her services again.” -Jane C.

How to Get Your Pup to be All Ears

Dogs are an intelligent species; they can assist the disabled and are great detectives. However, at times we do feel that our dogs aren’t smart as they don’t listen to our commands.  Of course, it is difficult to make your dog walk off leash or to get him to leave the chicken bone he found outside. You keep shouting “Bad Boy”, “Bad Boy” but he just won’t respond, and you end up feeling helpless & confused. Whether you are a new dog-parent or you have had your baby for years, you may experience this behavior. Well, keep your worries aside as this guide explains the basics of teaching your pup to listen to you.

Communication is Key

The first step is to build a connection with your dog. Dogs are animals, and we can’t expect them to speak our language. They begin to understand our commands when they are trained to do so. Begin with talking to your dog, use simple and short sentences. Make sure you use the same words each time as your pooch will learn with repetition. Use a tone that is soft and immediately catches attention. Don’t shout or whine as your pup may get scared or upset.

You can use gestures as well, teach your dog to sit, stand or stay using basic gestures. Combining gestures with verbal commands help the dog understand effectively.

Where to Begin?

Start with teaching your dog his name. Make sure you train your pup in a quiet place with no distractions involved. Say his name and if he looks at you, immediately say “Yes” in a praising tone. Repeat this couple of times, try doing it when you are in another room and see if he comes running to you. Afterward, you can teach the basic commands such as Stand up, sit, lie down and stay.

Positive Reinforcement

Your pooch needs a motivator to make him listen to your commands and what is better than his favorite treats. Every time your dog does what he is asked to, offer him something he loves. Along with the treats you need to use a signal as a cue, say “Yes” or “Good Boy” whenever he behaves well.

Keep Practicing

We have all heard of the phrase practice makes man perfect, well the same goes for dogs. You need to repeat the same commands multiple times, using the same words and tone each time. If you started teaching your dog in your living room without any distractions, practice the same techniques in different settings with distractions around. Eventually, your pooch will perfect the ability to respond to the cues.

Figure out Why Your Dog Isn’t Listening

If your dog doesn’t respond to the cue the first time, try to find out the cause. Is it because there are too many distractions that are overwhelming your pup? Maybe there are interesting things around that fascinate your pooch. Whatever the reason may be, find it and try to teach to your dog from the basics in the new environment.

Your puppy may also choose to ignore your commands if that is the case, reinforce the behavior by incorporating short training lessons into his daily routine. Once your little pup grows up and begins to have adventures on his own, the connection between the two of you may weaken. In that case, you are the one responsible for making things work, spend time with your dog, plan new activities and strengthen the bond.

One thing to always keep in mind is that it’s all about training. No breed or genes will influence your dog’s behavior as much as your teaching. Remember that it will require patience; there will be times when you’ll want to express anger, but that is never the solution. Combine the skills with the effective tools, and you’ll be able to train your dog in no time.

Talk to you again soon,

Jenny Perkins, Guest Blogger at DogBehaviorBlog & Blogger at



My Dog Eats Too Fast, What Do I Do?

There are many dogs who eat way too fast. You may not think there is harm in eating too quickly but, dogs who eat too fast can develop several health issues including bloat and obesity.

But, how can you get him to eat slower?

Slow Feed Bowls

My recommendation for dogs who eat too quickly is a slow feed bowl. There are so many benefits to slow feed bowls, and so many different kinds! Benefits include:

  • Lower risk of bloat and obesity
  • Mental stimulation/ problem solving
  • Improved digestion

Amber L. Drake’s Favorite Slow-Feed/Puzzle Bowls

I have chosen several of my favorite food bowls below. Please feel free to take a look!

Get Your Dog to Stop Pulling on the Leash

It’s almost time to take your dog for a walk but first you need to get mentally prepared. You are about to go for a walk with your dog… which should be an enjoyable experience but your anxiety is kicking in about your dog pulling on the leash the entire walk. By the time you return from you walk, you are completely exhausted from trying to hold onto the leash the hold time.

It’s time to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash.

Take a look at the tips below!

Always Use the Same Leash

Using the same leash is important for each walk. The leash should not be retractable as this basically gives your dog permission to pull. The dog thinks…

“If I pull, she will give me more room to roam.”

The leash should be relatively short (not overly short but 5-6 feet is good) so your dog understands he should stay next to you for the duration of the walk.

Don’t Let Him Pull You

You should never allow your dog to pull you.

This is an area where you must remain consistent. If you aren’t consistent and allow the dog to pull sometimes, he won’t understand why you’re upset when he pulls other times.

Reward Good Behavior

If your dog is paying attention to you, reward him in some way. This could be in the form of praise or a low-calorie treat.

Walking with a Harness


Walking with a harness can help significantly. Petsafe recently released their new product, the Petsafe Easy Walk Harness , that discourages your dog from pulling while walking on the leash. This product is particularly helpful for those who are beginner dog guardians.

The leash is comfortable for your dog, too. So, you don’t have to worry about your dog being uncomfortable on your walk. Instead of putting pressure on the dog’s throat (like a traditional collar and leash), the easy-walk harness puts the pressure on their chest making it easier to train them to walk on a leash properly.


Help! My Dog Won’t Stop Jumping on Everyone!

Help! My dog won’t stop jumping on me! This is a common behavior problem encountered by canine behaviorists. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a behavior problem that your dog will have forever unless you don’t fix it. Your dog can learn how to act appropriately around you and your guests.

Understand the Reason Why


Understanding why your dog is jumping is important in helping to reduce the behavior. Understanding your dog is also helpful in reducing the frustration you feel when the behavior begins.

Dogs jump all the time, it is natural for your dog to jump when he is excited. Dogs will jump when they want to play, when they are excited to see you (or someone else) and when they simply want your attention.

This behavior usually starts as a puppy. Seriously, how many of us can resist a puppy that jumps up for us to hold her?

In order to stop this behavior, you need to be consistent, remain calm and be willing to take the time to fix it.

Remain Consistent

Consistency is extremely important. If you allow your dog to jump sometimes, he is going to think it’s okay to jump all the time. If you don’t want him to jump, you must be consistent in your training.

Teach Your Dog to Sit


Of course your dog probably already knows how to ‘sit’ if you’re looking at this article.

Teaching him to sit when he greets you or someone else can prevent him from jumping on you. He can’t sit and jump at the same time. This also gives him enough time to calm down a little before greeting you when you get home.

When your dog has all four little paws planted on the floor, give him a treat. Don’t pay him any attention until he is down on all four paws.


Destructive Chewing

Chewing is a dog’s way of ‘exploring the world.’ Often, we hear of puppies chewing excessively because it relieves the pain of teething. In other dogs, it is their natural instinct to chew to keep their teeth clean and healthy. Chewing is also a dog’s way of relieving anxiety or boredom.

Excessive Chewing Becomes a Problem

Excessive chewing in dogs becomes a problem. We don’t want them to chew up the items around our home. If items are being chewed, please don’t think your dog is a ‘bad dog.’ This is a common issue for many dogs and it is a normal behavior.

Puppies and Excessive Chewing

Our puppies need to chew on something. Their teething phase can last up to six months of age. So, during this time, you can expect your puppy to need something to chew on. There are many recommendations for the teething phase.

You can try giving your puppy some ice cubes to chew on, for example. Stocking up on puppy chew toys also helps significantly. Kong toys are highly recommended as they are the most safe in many cases.

Chewing Due to Boredom

Adult dogs may chew due to boredom. This can be due to a lack of exercise or mental stimulation. Every dog is different and requires a different amount of physical and mental exercise. Most dogs, on average, need about an hour per day of exercise to feel healthy and comfortable.

A tired dog is a happy dog. This is an important statement to remember. Try taking your dog on an extra walk each day, playing fetch or even taking her to the dog park. You can also take a look at the mental stimulation treat puzzles that are now available at most pet stores.

Remember to Be Patient

Remember to be patient throughout any behavioral problem. Scolding your dog and/or punishing your dog severely reduces the trust your dog has with you… and the bond you share.