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

Save a Life, Adopt a Dog

“What a good doggie you are, you always let us know when you need to go out!””

This is just one of the reasons busy people should consider adopting a pet from their local shelters instead of buying from pet stores. It takes a long time- with a lot of patience and consistency- to get your dog trained properly.

Other Reasons to Adopt

What other reasons would someone want to adopt for?

They’re giving up that little bundle of fur that is so cute in the store, but he may be more trouble then you are expecting once you get home?

The only thing I can think of that is on the down side of adopting is the fact you more than likely wouldn’t be getting a “puppy” or “kitten”.

Shelters Have Puppies, Too

Shelters, at times though, DO have litters of animals that need to be adopted out or someone’s pet has babies and family can’t afford to keep them and hand them over to a shelter. Are they purebred? Not usually. Will they love you as much as an expensive store bought animal? Absolutely.

Opening Up a Space

As I am thinking of good reasons to adopt an animal… there is an obvious fact that crosses my mind. And, the fact is that you would be saving a pets life.

There are few no kill shelters, as they fill up the long term animals that haven’t been adopted have to be euthanized to make room for more to come in. So not only are you saving one pets life you are saving two by making room for another pet to be sheltered.

A Certain Dog in Mind

Depending on you and your family, you may have a certain kind of dog in mind.

Is it for companionship, for protection or just to add joy to the family?

Shelters usually have many different breeds at one time and some will even give you a call if you are looking for a certain breed if one happens to come in. If you want to just check them out and see what is available, most shelters will take a dog out to play area and let you interact with it to see if you are interested and if the dog likes you.

You are able to see their personality, how they act with your children, or with another pet. If you are older you might just need a low key pet but find one you like really wouldn’t work because of the energy they have. It is a good time to see if you and the pet would connect personalities.

When you’re adopting from a shelter, you can rest at ease knowing your dog will already be spayed/neutered, vetted, and often microchipped. Pet store dogs don’t offer this. The vetting is your responsibility.

And, there could be more veterinary costs than you think… because most of the puppies found in pet stores are straight from the puppy mill.

On top of these points, if you watch your local shelters, most will have specials throughout the year.

Saving a Dog is a Wonderful Feeling

Adopting a pet is a wonderful feeling as the pet picks you just as much as you pick them!

Be a hero not just to your family but to a loyal companion who will love you until the end.

MY HERO SAVED ME; WILL YOU BE A HERO TOO? (Pictured: Smokie, my rescued Pit)