Training a Dog to Be Less Afraid of People

September 5, 2010

Large red dog cowering and looking at a man's outstretched handI'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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July 9, 2019

An 8 month old white Lab is scared of everything. It is my mom's dog. He loves to get in my car, but he has to be dragged and put into my mother's car. She is almost 70 years old and is unable to physically pick him up and put him in her car. Anyone that he doesn't know, he barks constantly at them and paces the house. He has a crate that he loves, but it seems like no help in these situations. He has been to multiple obedience classes to no avail. My mother is at her wits end. What can I do to help? We just bought him a thunder shirt, but haven't tried it yet; we are waiting on the delivery. What else can I do to help her train this puppy?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
July 9, 20190 found this helpful

Dogs have distinct personalities. Dogs also have anxiety. Talk to the vet. There are medications that will help.

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September 5, 2010

My daughter was coming out of Target Store and saw a pitiful mutt on a leash attached to a construction worker's truck. It said, "Adopt me".

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