Fear Of Strangers

You have an absolutely adorable dog, and life is good…that is until you take him out somewhere and he sees a stranger. Now suddenly your cute, cuddly friend is lunging and barking like a rabid dog. Not to worry though, a fear of strangers is a very common issue.

Your dog’s personality depends on multiple things, mainly the variety of people he was exposed to as a puppy and the way they treated him. If your dog, as a puppy, had a bad experience with an ear pulling child or a rough housing uncle, then he could grow up with a fear of children or men. Any bad experiences, even your well-meaning, overzealous friend that rushes over and looms above to pet your adorable new puppy, can make him fearful of strangers.

It’s crucial for a puppy to be exposed to as many different people in different types of environments as possible. When they meet someone new and are friendly and well-behaved, make sure to praise and reward them. If you see a problem (shivering, cowering, urinating), then try to pinpoint the personality type he is bothered by and work on it. Slowly introduce the “offending” person in a controlled environment, making sure to not reprimand any unfavorable reactions. By creating positive experiences, it will help shape their personality and make them more relaxed around people.

Fear-Of-StrangersIf you have adopted an adult dog, first things first, good for you! Now you must begin to learn your new furry family member’s personality. Be very cautious when first taking him places even if he seems very friendly with you. You never know what has happened to him in the past or what may trigger him to become fearful or aggressive. If someone is reaching out to pet your dog and he starts cowering, his ears go back, tail is low or between his legs, lips curl, then he is frightened and that person needs to stop and back away. Let the person know he has a fear of strangers. Then try to get him to focus all his attention on you. Give him a command like “sit” or “shake,” anything to take the focus off the stranger and put it back on you. Once he is focused on you and feeling relaxed and happy, give him a treat or reward. You are associating something good with something scary and hopefully now making it a little less scary. If you continue to work on this, the fear could fade away.