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Dogs who are nervous around people
When you rehome a dog from Battersea we will tell you as much as we can about its history and personality, and give you lots of advice about caring for your new friend. For some dogs, like Benny the Mongrel who featured in our ITV1 series, meeting new people can be very scary. It is often impossible to discover what caused their initial fear, but there are several steps you can take to help them feel more secure and safe.
It is important to give nervous dogs the time and space to overcome their anxieties. While your new dog will hopefully become a much-loved member of the family, he may never become a totally confident dog and it could take a long time for him to grow in confidence.
Canine Welfare Trainer Brian Brady gives his top tips on how to help a nervous dog.
- It’s really important to let your dog make friends at his own pace. Never pressurise him into a situation or force him to meet new people.
- Don’t be afraid to tell new people to ignore your dog or give him space.
- Never tell your dog off for nervous behaviour. Raising your voice or getting cross will just make your dog more nervous.
- Give your dog a private space, such as a crate or den, which he can freely go in and out of. Put it in a quiet area of the house, out of the way of busy thoroughfares and remind everyone not to disturb your dog if he is in his space. If you use a crate your dog might like it to be covered with a blanket, so he doesn’t feel he’s being observed.
- If you live with other people, get all of them to help care for the dog. If there is one person he is more nervous around, encourage them to gradually provide your dog’s most enjoyable activities, such as feeding him or walking him. If your dog finds this too stressful, the dog’s favourite person could accompany them on walks.
- Find out what your dog loves, such as toys, other dogs, or treats. Then use that to build a positive association with new people. For example, give new visitors a handful of treats to give to your dog. They can make the dog work for the treat, such as asking the dog to ‘sit’. It’s important to let the dog approach the new visitor, rather than using the treat to tempt the dog over. This will help your dog see meeting new people as something positive.