How to Make Dog Less Afraid of People

I've had my Chihuahua for about 5 months. I bought him at 6 months. Anytime someone tries to give him attention he runs with his tail between his legs like they are going to beat him. He even does it when I try, but he'll sleep with me, and try to get my attention when he wants it. How do I break him of being afraid?


By Jessica from Reno, NV

September 7, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have a Chihuahua (Chica) with the same exact problem. She was about 6mos when I adopted. She is now 2 1/2. The key is calm. The first 6 months, we went to the dog park to get her social with other small dogs. I asked (and still do) that the humans, especially children, only try to touch if she touches you. I tell them to pet the other dog. It still takes about 30 min before she gets into the mix with other doggies. Chica also seemed to be drawn to very calm people/dogs. She can sense frenetic energy of others.

We have walked the same neighborhood path for months, until she was used to lawn statues, garbage cans, joggers. Chica is 9lbs so we can have a nice brisk walk for her to remain focused on me and the walk. She still tries to turn around to go home. I think she senses the 1/2 mark since she picks up speed.

It helps tremendously having the other dog. We have a very social 6 year Yorkie. Now inside the house, Chica rules the cats, but the cats seem to love it. I ask visitors who come to the house to not engage either dog, it keeps things calmer.

I try to avoid picking her up, only on the most extreme circumstances (we are in a very public place and she just cannot handle it).

Chica loves to run, so I do have her do some obstacles in the yard.

She rarely hides or tries to jump in my arms. She just stands next to me (tail not tucked). When I see she is fine, I will pick her up and have my neighbor or whomever I am chatting with gently pet her. She doesn't cringe or pull away. I keep the interaction calm.

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September 6, 20100 found this helpful

Patience and time is really all I can come up with or in a calm manner pick him up and let him smell the hand of a visitor and then let them pet him if he will let them. When we got my chihuahua female, we asked the owner why she was giving such a beautiful sweet creature away and she said that she and her husband had gone away for a couple of nights unexpectedly and the dog was left inside all that time. Well when they got home her husband went ballistic on the poor creature because she peed on the floor. The dog ran and hid everytime this man was in the home after that so she decided to give her away to give the dog some relief from all that fear. So we got blessed with this precious dog now and she is very very loving. She was apprehensive with my husband but after lying next to him in the recliner for hours at a time she is no longer afraid of men.

I wish you luck. Just don't give up on the little fella. He didn't choose to be afraid.

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September 6, 20100 found this helpful

It needs to learn socializing and you might well have to take it to a trainer to learn how to do this. Or perhaps check it on the net to see what you can find out.

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May 16, 2011 Flag
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My 3/4 Chihuahua 1/4 Dachshund is terrified of people. She shakes uncontrollably, yelps if they come within a couple of feet of her, or snaps if they try to touch her. She's 8 months old.

This came on after her last vet visit for shots. She is so good with us and other animals, but also scared to go for rides. I would appreciate any help. She is so loving with us and obeys quite well. She sits, stays, comes, and knows off. These are all the commands I've taught her so far. She's extremely smart. Help.


By Carrie from Huntsville, AL

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May 18, 20110 found this helpful

Puppies go through fear phases. One when they are around 8 weeks old, and then again around 4 months, and some go through a third at 14 months. Of course different breeds develop and mature at different rates. Your puppy is probably just going through a fear phase brought on by her "trauma" at the vet.

Just don't coddle her. Act as though everything is normal. If you coddle her she will forever associate being scared with receiving affection on command. She will get through it on her own just as she would if she were a wild animal. If you behave as if everything is okay, she will believe you.

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May 18, 20110 found this helpful

Change your vet and never take her there again. Put her in a crate when someone come in and after they are there awhile let her out and just let her do her thing she will get through it. I have had a vet do some horrible things to small dogs because they get angry or the puppy doesn't understand. You should always be there when your pup has shots because to her you are her safety and it hurts. You can also see how they treat her. Just don't use that vet ever again.

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May 20, 20110 found this helpful

You touched on the cause already. It is the vaccine. my post above, just before this one. She has had a poisoning in the brain from mercury (now called thimerisol) You need at least thuja (a homeopathic that sometimes helps). Now. She needs a homeopathic doctor. Poison vaccine has crossed a wire in her brain. Please get her some homeo care and never vaccinate. Dogs stay healthy when you build their immune system. Vaccines tear it down. Online see vaccine ingredients and study few things on Any anti vaccine site that lists ingredients. I have studied much on vaccine danger because of personal experience.

My step gransdson,3 months old, died 3 days after a vaccine. I have MS within a week of vaccine. Dear friend has lupus right after vaccine, friends grandaughter juvie arthritis immediately after vaccine. another friends daughter a vegetable with epilepsy right after a vaccine, cancers, allergy and of course the medical community will not recognize because there is big bucks in poisoning you, me and our pets too. Keep me posted, please. I am glad you care about your furball. Hugs, Vicki

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