13 Nov

Dealing with fear of people



Some dogs don’t know that people are great they may not have had the chance to learn this, they could genetically have fear in them, have had a startle in the past, or many other causes that can cause them to be a bit fearful of human friends. This how to will go over how we slowly introduce people to fearful dogs! 


Home setting

  1. Start where Fido can hear but not see, have sounds and smells of people paired with food

  2. Then move to having people come over and put treats under the door, or in the kennel and walk away immediately 

  3. When Fido is starting to anticipate food with new people, we can start bringing Fido out with a muzzle on if they bite, and having food at guests feet, everyone sitting, and not getting up if Fido is present

  4. Do short sessions with Fido out, eating food at guests feet and then going back to their safe area to calm down, try and put Fido away before he or she goes over threshold, or gets too overwhelmed

  5. Over time guests can start offering food from their hands, while still watching their movement, and still sitting, and then we can move to guest standing while Fido eats treats at their feet, and then out of their hands while they stand

  6. We can pair movement with good things by putting Fido in his or her safe space, at a far enough distance Fido feels comfortable, and then give Fido a bully stick or chew, or lots of yummy treats while we watch guests moving around from a distance, in short sessions with lots of breaks, again timing breaks before Fido hits threshold or becomes overwhelmed. 

7. After Fido becomes more comfortable with movement, we can bring Fido out with muzzle if needed and teach Fido to move away and take space when the people or movement becomes too overwhelming, and help Fido to not linger too close to people for too long and scare themselves, this is why short sessions are important, breaks are a good thing! 



On the leash/ in public


  1. In public and on leash the best thing to do is avoid greetings, keep distance and watch people go by using the leash reactivity behavior to get attention and build a positive association! 

  2. Distance is a good thing! Try and get to a far enough point that Fido will give attention and not react, and then get some treats going and watch the people go by! 

  3. Muzzles and calming bands are great safety tools in public, we never know if strangers will listen when we say not to touch our scared dog, so muzzles are great for preventing nips, and calming bands are great for helping relieve the stress that situation may cause, as well as any stress outside

  4. Fearful and reactive dogs may not be able to walk as much as other dogs due to their stress level, they need time to be able to calm down and won’t get that if they are constantly seeing triggers and reacting, brain stimulation is a great way to ensure our dogs are getting enough brain exercise even if we are having to limit physical exercise due to triggers. 

  5. Look in to “hot & cold” dogs in terms of diet and how the meats dogs eat can effect their inner yin and yang and ultimately behavior

  6. Read Turrid Raagas’ book “calming signals” 

  7. Thunder shirts, zen shirts and full body calming wraps are very helpful as well to help Fido be able to stay below threshold and in turn be able to build positive associations




  • High value treats! Something stinky and something your dog loves

  • If your dog won’t take high value food, they are too overwhelmed, we need to take a step back

  • SPACE! This is SO important, we need to be giving enough space to our dogs, especially the fearful ones! 

  • Watch body movement, remember a moving person is way scarier then a stationary one, watch eye contact and avoid it, ensure you are doing what you can to ensure that your fearful dog will have success and ensure other people listen to these boundaries too! 

  • Pair scary/weird things/movements with really yummy treats! Always! This is how we build positive associations!

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