A Day in the Life of a Fearful Dog

Last week Emma the Beagle became afraid to walk on our wood floors. We don’t know why. Maybe she slipped, maybe she just took a bad step, maybe someone clicked open a pen at the same moment Emma stepped on the floor. The reason doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the fact that because of this new fear, she couldn’t move from the dining room to the couch, she couldn’t walk across the room to eat her meals, and she couldn’t walk to the door to go outside.

Check out the video above to see what Hubz and I have to do to help Emma live in her world of fear. The biggest tool in our arsenal is patience. Whether we’re helping Emma overcome her separation anxiety, walk on wood, or walk on a bridge, the rule is to keep her below her fear threshold. Little by little we use chicken or cuddles or whatever will make Emma feel good at that moment to change the scary-bad association into a happy-tasty-fun one.

I did these sessions four or five times yesterday — focusing on one area of the floor and keeping her there until her tail was back wagging and her expression relaxed. By 6 p.m. she was following me all around the room.

Emma’s still a little bit skittish today, so we’ll have a few more chicken-on-the-wood sessions, but she’s at least brave enough to join us at the door for walks.

I call that a WIN!

Until next time…


Thank you to Zazie with Companion Animal Psychology for hosting the Train4Rewards blog party. Click on the link to read all sorts of goodies about positive-reinforcement training. Teaching your dogz stuffz can be fun for both you and your pup!


8 comments on “A Day in the Life of a Fearful Dog

  1. Pingback: Is My Dog Afraid or In Pain or Both? – dogz and their peoplez

  2. I have a rescue dog who is also very fearful. I scour the net daily for tips and tricks, but my best weapons have been patience and food. I’ve had her 1 1/2 years now, she has come a long way. I don’t think she’ll ever be what one could consider a” normal” dog, but helping her to feel safe in at least one environment has at least been achieved.
    I’ll check back with your blog now that I’ve found it, for more tips and info for helping her have the happiest rest of her life she can have.
    Thank you!

      • Isn’t Debbie wonderful? I have learned so much from her site and articles. I would love to go to one of her seminars, they must be so enlightening.
        I think I belong to every fearful dog group there is out there! I would never have been able to help bailey if not for them. I didn’t know she was fearful and had no experience with such a dog. Now I can’t imagine my life without her, or what her life might have been like with someone else.
        I have no clue how to post a picture or video here, though lord knows I have a bunch! She’s a boxer mix I believe with Rhodesian Ridgeback, so she is intimidating looking but is just a lovebug.
        Lol right now she is snoring on my lap, she has no idea she is not a lap dog and I’m not gonna tell her! Thanks again for your posts, I am eagerly reading through them now.

        • Of course you know about the group and Debbie! What else to we do when we realize our dog is scared? We seek out help! Debbie is incredible. I went to her workshop in Philly last month and was blown away.

  3. Pingback: Dog Commandments #3: Thou shalt help thy dog face its fears – Woof Like To Meet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.