How to Train a Skittish Dog?
How to Train a Skittish Dog? (Professional Trainer Reviewed Guide)
Navigating the journey of caring for a rescue dog that's initially wary of humans can be complex. Their fear and caution can make them jumpy and scared, even around you. Despite your desire to shower them with love, they may resist your attempts.
This situation can be challenging, but it's important to remember that with time and patience, your rescue dog can learn to trust and become comfortable around you and others.
The good news is that if you are patient and let your dog take their time, you can build a strong connection with your new furry friend. As your dog starts feeling more confident, they will be more open to spending time with you.
Trust me, with some time and understanding, you can connect with a timid dog. But first, knowing why they feel so skittish is important.
Understanding Skittish Behavior in Dogs
Before we dive into the training techniques, it is important to understand what skittish behavior in dogs looks like. Skittish dogs are often fearful and anxious, and they may exhibit a range of behaviors, such as:
- Trembling or shaking
- Hiding or cowering
- Excessive barking or whining
- Aggression or biting
- Avoiding eye contact
- Refusing to eat or drink
- Urinating or defecating indoors
Various factors can trigger these behaviors, for example, loud sounds, strangers, or bad experiences. Identifying the root cause of your dog's skittish behavior is important to address it effectively.
7 Tips to Train a Skittish Dog
1. Create a Safe and Calm Environment
One of the first steps in training a skittish dog is to create a safe and calm environment. This means minimizing loud noises, creating a comfortable and secure space for them to retreat to, and avoiding situations that may trigger their anxiety. You can also use calming aids such as pheromone sprays or calming music to help your dog feel more relaxed.
2. Socialize Your Dog
Socialization is an important part of training for all dogs, but especially for skittish dogs.
Exposing your dog to new people, pets, and environments can help foster their self-confidence and ease their anxiety. Start with low-stress situations and increase exposure levels gradually over time.
3. Start with Basic Obedience Training
If you are training a skittish dog, it is essential that you start with basic obedience training. Invest some time in teaching your dog basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "come." This will help build their confidence and trust in you as their owner.
This will give them a sense of trust and confidence in you as their owner. Training sessions should begin with short sessions and be gradually increased in duration and difficulty.
4. Gradually Expose Your Dog to New Experiences and Environments
Introducing your dog slowly to new situations and environments is an important part of training a skittish dog. Get started with low-stress situations and increase the stress level gradually.
For example, walk around the block for a short period of time and then gradually increase length and distance. Introduce your dog to new people and other animals slowly and in a controlled environment.
5. Use Positive Reinforcement
According to experts, positive reinforcement is an effective method of training skittish dogs. If your dog exhibits calm and confident behavior, reward them with treats, praise, and affection. As a result, they will be more likely to associate the desired behavior with positive feelings.
6. Desensitization and Counterconditioning
Desensitization and counterconditioning are two methods you can use to deal with your dog's anxieties and fears. A desensitization process exposes your dog slowly to the anxiety trigger, whereas a counterconditioning process involves linking treats or toys to the trigger. Consequently, your dog will learn to associate the trigger with positive emotions instead of fear.
7. Seek Professional Help
You should consider hiring a dog trainer if your dog's skittish behavior persists or is severe. They can provide personalized training and behavior modification plans to help your dog overcome fears and anxieties.
Do dogs grow out of being skittish?
It is possible for a skittish dog to gradually improve with time. However, it is unlikely for a naturally nervous or shy dog to become outgoing. Genetics and experience shape how shy or outgoing a dog will be as an adult. Some dogs are naturally more extroverted than others, and it is not clear why some dogs tend to be skittish by nature.
Although some dogs can be naturally skittish, most have become skittish because they lacked new experiences in their youth. Studies have shown that fearful, aggressive, or otherwise atypical puppies will likely grow into fearful or aggressive adults. Therefore, it is important to intervene early to help a puppy overcome these issues.
Training a skittish dog can be challenging, but with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, it is possible to help your furry friend overcome their fears and anxieties.
The best way to build confidence and reduce anxiety for your dog is to keep it calm and safe, socialize it, use positive reinforcement, and apply techniques such as desensitization and counterconditioning.
In order to have success, you must be patient and consistent, and if necessary, you should seek professional help. You can help your skittish dog become a happy and confident companion with time and effort.