What Should I Do if My Dog is Afraid of Me?

By Ann Collins / August 4, 2021

Do you have a new dog that’s scared of everyone and everything? Or is your old pet pal suddenly afraid of you for some reason?

Neither one of these scenarios is good, and it’s logical you’d wonder why this is happening. Scared dogs react in different ways, and there’s never a way to tell whether your pet will respond aggressively or not.

Human interaction with doggie This stops the two of you from having a secure and trusting bond that’s so important in this relationship. If you got your puppy at a pet store or a shelter, it’s almost normal that it’s a bit scared.

It’s because most of those dogs haven’t had as much human interaction. However, if you had your canine for years already and it’s now scared of you for some reason, there is probably a good one.

Maybe you’ve stepped on its tail or paw a few times. The good thing is that you can fix this problem. Use some of these techniques to build trust between you and your furry friend with some time and patience.

What Should I Do?

close-up of scared dog. First and foremost, you should take your pet to the veterinarian to check if its health is alright. Sometimes, canines tend to grow a bit fearful if they are sick or something is hurting them. Once you got that figured out, you can focus on all else.

If you got a puppy from a shelter, it’s probably frightened of noise, quick movements, and aggressive behavior. When you’re stressed, nervous and yelling, your canine can sense that and will react to it.

scared puppyIt’s important you create a positive atmosphere in which your pet feels safe, secure and comfortable. A good way to trick your pup into approaching you is to carry treats in your pocket.

The animal will smell the treats and come near you eventually. This works almost every time because dogs associate you with treats and immediately begin to see you as a good person.

Still, don’t go way too overboard with cookies if you don’t want an obese pet.

Want to know two popular brands for treats? We’ve made a comparison guide with Dentastix vs Greenies.

girl rewarding dog with treat

Now that you two made some progress see if you can move on to playtime. Daily brushing is also a good way of creating trusting bond and most canines end up loving this activity after some time.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re patient. When your pet’s scared of you, it means it doesn’t trust you, so you need to work on earning that trust. Take your time in realizing what’s the reason behind your dog’s fear and focus on helping your canine rely on you.

Things I shouldn’t do

Punish your pet

puppy being punished A positive atmosphere is one of the most important factors you should pay attention to. If your pup is scared of you, the last thing you want to do is yell, scold or punish it.

There must be a reason why your canine is scared of you and being loud and noisy won’t help the issue. Instead of scolding it, reward it for good behavior, and you’ll quickly notice an improvement in its behavior.

Don’t pity

dog that is scared of ownerIt maybe doesn’t make a much sense but showing pity can’t help at all. Baby talking and coddling feels the most natural thing to most of us when we’re trying to make our dogs love us.

However, dogs don’t see this the way we do, and in most cases, they feel as if hugging and coddling is encouraging their fear.

Don’t Be Too Hard

shy dog on couchShy dogs are pretty much like shy humans. The more you push them, the more anxious and scared they’ll be, and then the cause is lost.

They do things when they feel comfortable and secure enough so it wouldn’t be a good thing to force or push them. Instead, encourage them with some treats since those might be the best way to speak to a scared pup.

How Do You Develop Trust?

scared dog in car.Unlike cats, dogs are naturally trusting so this shouldn’t be very hard, depending on the trauma that caused the fear in the first place. It takes some time to build trust all over again, especially if you have a new pup that didn’t interact with humans before.

Because it doesn’t know you, your canine needs time to feel comfortable around you. Treats are probably the best way of gaining your pet’s trust.

puppy treats in a bowlIn their minds, you must be a good person since you feed them treats. Treat your furry friend whenever it does something well or makes a step forward.

Looking for the best brands for treats?

Check this post: blue buffalo vs wellness

Also, make sure you don’t yell or create any noise. Have you noticed how almost all dogs are scared of firecrackers and storms?

This is because noise can scare animals as well and create severe anxiety. Avoid being noisy yourself and turn down your tv and stereo, too.

Spend time with your pet and speak to it in your normal voice. As we mentioned, baby talking isn’t the best idea, but talking in your normal voice can be beneficial.

Once the dog associates your voice with the quiet and comfortable environment, it’s going to be less and less fearful. Quality time spent playing or brushing its fur is also recommended.

dog with collar that is scared of ownerAvoid quick movements since those can scare your puppy as much as noise can. Petting your pooch is always a good idea if you’re certain that it won’t react aggressively and possibly bite you.

Remember to be calm and quiet when approaching with your hand. It would probably be a good idea to hand a treat while you’re at it.

The bottom point is, your dog’s going to connect you with all the good or bad stuff. So, if you’re loud and angry, it will forever be scared. However, if you’re nice, patient and you carry treats, it’s only a matter of time before your pup trusts you again.

Training tips

pug being trained not to be scaredIf your furry friend is suddenly scared of you, you need to stop and think why this could be the case. Many things can cause your canine to be afraid and break the trust you once shared.

However, it mostly isn’t just one act that could scare your dog but a series of negative experiences. For example, if you’ve accidentally stepped on its tail once, your pet probably forgave you.

person holding black dog. However, if it happened a few times in a short period, your pet can easily feel fearful every time you come near it. The way you behave in front of your pet could scare it even if you didn’t want that to happen.

This means that if you’ve had a bad day, you yell and throw your bag, you might scare your pup. Especially if you just rescued the pup from a shelter and it didn’t yet get used to you or the environment.

small bulldog standing with treatsThe first thing to remember is to be calm, quiet and patient. Also, try to get rid of the mindset of you thinking “my dog is afraid of me”. Here are some extra training tips to apply:

  • Treats are the number one thing that can win you your dog’s trust. Slow and calm movements are also a must.
  • Spend time with your pup on the floor. Sit or lay down on the floor while talking to your dog. Allow it to approach you, and if you have a treat, hand it over.
  • Walk your dog. Dogs love to go for walks. However, you want to make sure that you’re not aggressive about it. As in, don’t yell at your canine for walking, and don’t pull hard when using a leash. Again, you want to develop that trust.
  • A good thing would be to consult a professional. Dog behaviorists can help a great deal to figure out why your canine is acting fearful towards you.
  • Be understanding and don’t push your pup too hard. Give it time to approach you on its terms and when it feels comfortable enough to make the first move. Don’t force it to do things it’s scared of since that can make things far worse than you think.

Final thoughts

black dog that's scared of ownerDogs are our best friends, and they’re the most loving animals you can find for a pet. No other animal can be as loving, trusting and protective as your pet pup.

Still, if it happens that your old furry pal is suddenly scared of you, you’ll need to work on getting its trust back. The most important thing is to find the cause of their fear, so you know how to work on winning their trust.

Some issues can easily be fixed with a few treats, while others take a lot of time and effort before your pet feels comfortable around you. Either way, remember to be calm and patient with your pet. Dogs are sweethearts, and they want to love you, so give them time and create a positive atmosphere for them.

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About the author

    Ann Collins

    I've been a college grad for over 4 years now. I'm a full-time contributor for puppypointers and I absolutely love it. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world, especially those that have a warm heart for doggies. When I'm not writing, I spend a lot of time at the beach in sunny California.

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