I’m Not Scared

scared dog

Changing from shy to confident

My scared puppy Indie is making big leaps. From not being able to move because she was shut down for a few weeks when she arrived to showing me all the things that she is now able to handle.

Let’s recap

Things that she was scared of:

  • food in general, food bowls, spoons, cups, boxes, cereal bowls, food dispensing toys
  • training in general made her eyes gloss over and shut down.
  • playing with me or anyone here
  • cats
  • dogs including the ones that were already living here
  • cameras
  • getting picked up by anyone in my family
  • the backyard
  • going on a walk
  • people
  • any new thing that showed up, could be a package, new shoes, really any change in the environment
  • the vet
not a scared dog

Let’s look at her behavior now

  • She can eat food out of pretty much anything, we have been working on building her confidence with food dispensing toys, eating from all kinds of vessels, bowls, spoons, boxes,..
  • She turned into a training maniac, she thinks every turn is her turn and even gets mad if the other dogs are getting trained ( it’s very cute but we are now working on patience)
  • She turned into the most playful dog, she wants to play with everything when we are home. We are now working on playing in different settings.
  • She is still not a fan of one of my cats but she ignores the other one mostly, work in progress but nothing I’m too concerned about. It’s not on top of my list.
  • She loves playing with my other dogs, neither Split’s zombie noises nor Honey’s size makes her flinch. I love watching them play.
  • Doesn’t mind having her picture taken anymore.
  • She actually pushes herself off now when being picked up.
  • Indie loves the backyard now and runs like the wind.
  • She loves going for walks, especially when at least one of her siblings is coming. By herself it’s still a work in progress but we are making progress and that is important.
  • Most people still frighten her, but we are able to walk by people if they ignore her and she has made a few friends with my daughters play mates. Slow progress but I’m very happy with it.
  • She has learned new things mean cookies, so still a little apprehensive, she is way more relaxed about new things.
  • We have worked a lot of husbandry behaviors so the vet is not as scary anymore. And also my vet is awesome! She can tell how far she can go without freaking her out and doesn’t force anything on her. That has really helped Indie to feel more at ease.

What a transformation

Indie turned into such a fun little dog. I love how her behavior is changing and she is gaining confidence
Behaviors can always change if you make an effort on doing so. Just because your dog is behaving a certain way right now doesn’t mean she’ll behave like that forever. But you have to commit to changing behavior, it can take a long time. If you ever tried dieting you’ll know how hard it is for yourself to change eating habits but it is possible.

Here are my Rules for building confidence:

  • Manage your dogs triggers ( I will make sure my dog doesn’t feel the need to hide or protect herself from a stranger)
  • Structure builds confidence, if your dog knows what is about to happen he will feel more at ease.
  • Go at your dog’s pace and don’t rush the process
  • Give tasks that are easy for your dog and build onto it
  • Make it fun and use positive reinforcement strategies only
  • If you don’t know how to help your dog find a reward based trainer to help you along
  • Having your dog to “deal with it” will make things worse. This is called flooding and is not something I advise doing
  • Find things your dog likes and use them to your advantage
  • Don’t be scared to use behavior medication but use them along with behavior modification
  • Don’t try to teach something to a scared dog , he can’t learn when he is scared. Just imagine an alligator sitting in your lap and someone trying to teach you Algebra.

Do you need help building confidence in your scared dog? Our professional dog trainers at Freak On A Leash can help

Read a blogpost from the American Kennel Club on fearful dogs here 

We can help bring out the best in your dog!

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