A fearful dog that sees a new person feels unsure whether this person is safe or dangerous and so he reacts to make this person go away. Barking, growling, and hiding are good ways to escape or chase the person away.
Why Do Dogs Get Scared of People?
- Past Negative Experiences
- Lack of Positive Experiences
In some cases, the dog has been abused (this being more likely among the unfortunate many brought up in puppy mills) but in most what is being exhibited is a lack of socialization. As young pups, dogs need to interact with humans during their development. Those that were not given adequate affection will show uneasiness around people.
To help with this you must work with a counter-conditioning program that provides positive experiences with people for your dog. Enlist the help of friends and family - seek out as wide a variety of people as you can (including men and children). Instruct these folks on the proper way to greet a dog: standing or kneeling, looking away, and allowing the dog to come to you.
The process of re-teaching these associations is often called "counter-conditioning." As the name implies, the goal is to counter, or change, the connection that exists in your dog's mind. To do this, we must give him new experiences (new connections). While doing that, we encounter a concept known as the "behavioral threshold."
Behavioral threshold is a term that refers to the distance at which your dog can no longer calmly handle the presence of the feared object. When that line is crossed, the frightening aspects of the item become too strong and he will begin to respond with fear instead of indifference. The goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate the distance that he needs to feel safe.
In counter conditioning we are dealing with a dog's emotions, not actions, so the intention is to make those feelings better. Flooding the dog with the stimulus or making him quiet down may well produce satisfactory outward results, but the inner impact may make the problem worse. By recognizing that it is an emotional state, we can work directly with the problem to alleviate it.
Tips To Stop Dogs From Getting Scared of People
- Identify how far away he can be without getting scared and stay outside that line.
- Reward him for staying cool.
- Work to move him closer to the person he is afraid of, in baby steps.
With time and patience, he will learn to see people in a positive light. Time should be spent with him on basic obedience as well as learning tricks and games. This will give him better structure and increase his confidence.
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