Some dogs are naturally shy or scared and do not get along with people, especially strangers. It affects dogs across every size, breed, age, or mix. They could tremble, cower, hide, or simply growl and snap whenever they are with strangers. Common causes of fear in dogs are past abuse, genetic make-up, and poor social experience at puppyhood.
The first step to helping your dog is identifying what scares it. Some dogs are fearful of women than men while some are scared of children. Once you identify what makes your dog scared, you can then work towards alleviating it by easing the fear; do not force strangers on your dog. Ensure your dog feels comfortable either in a crate, on a leash and away from people it is scared of.
If a new person will be visiting your house, discuss your dog’s condition with them and avoid them having any form of contact. If possible, they should also avoid eye contact with the dog. Completely ignoring the dog helps the dog feel relaxed and comfortable. With time, you can have your visitor come in with treats that should be gently tossed to the floor close to your dog. This will help your dog build acceptance for strangers with a reward after a while and build its confidence.
When your dog starts familiarizing with strangers, keep it slow and don’t rush the process. Allow the dog’s friendliness and acceptance to be self-paced. Avoid forcing your dog on new people no matter how close they are to you, even if you live in the same house. Always keep the training stress-free and comfortable for your dog. For dogs that are scared of someone living under the same roof with them, let the dog have a space of its own where it can feel safe.
Training your dog not to be scared of strangers takes consistent training and a lot of time. While some dogs may not completely accept strangers, you can help reduce their fear and help them become more comfortable. You can also discuss your dog’s case with your veterinarian who will be able to offer specific guides and tactics that will work for your dog. if need be, your vet might also prescribe some medications. If your dog is not getting better after a while, a certified dog trainer will have to be engaged to help your pet.
Fearful pets may be challenging to their parents, but with consistent attention, love, and smart management, you can help them gain confidence. Seeking help from your veterinarian and animal behaviourists/trainers is key to achieving a good result.