How Do I Keep My Dog Calm Around Guests?

fawn pug covered by Burberry textile between plants

Dogs can be extremely afraid of strangers. Dogs who fear strangers will cower and tremble in order to avoid new people. Although it is not uncommon for dogs to fear strangers, an ideal response is one that encourages open friendship, not hiding or running. It’s important to learn the reasons your dog is afraid of strangers so that you can help it overcome it.

woman sitting on sofa while holding food for dog

There are many reasons to be afraid

There are many reasons your dog might be afraid of people it does not know.

  • Genetics could be a factor. It is more common for shy dogs to have skittish offspring. Dogs that fear all people, rather than children or men, may be genetically predisposed towards fear.
  • Dogs that aren’t socialized well as puppies can fear strangers. Dogs that aren’t exposed to a variety of people will be more afraid of strangers than pups who have had the chance to meet them.
  • Dogs who have been abused in the past may be more afraid of strangers. Knowing the history of abuse can help you understand why your dog is afraid of strangers.

Be Free from Fear

It is important to manage a dog’s fear of strangers. Different dogs respond differently to fear. A dog might cower in a corner when a stranger approaches. One dog might growl or snap at another. It takes a lot of training and patience to teach a dog not to be afraid.

Your dog may be afraid of strangers. You may find your dog reacting fearfully to strangers. When you meet new people, try to be friendly, calm, and positive. Although some dogs will never be able to accept strangers, you might be able to help your dog to overcome its fear. Fearful dogs shouldn’t be forced to accept strangers or pets. This can lead to fear-biting. Working with a certified dog behaviorist can help you identify cues and manage your dog’s reactions. Each dog is unique and learns at his own pace. This process may take weeks, months, or even years.

Get ready for new visitors

If someone new visits, it is best to completely ignore the dog. Visitors should not touch the dog or attempt to pet it. During the visit, have some treats ready for the visitor to gently place on the dog’s floor. Your fearful dog will eventually associate strangers with treats if you keep at it.

Some dogs are more afraid than others of women. You can help your guests by preparing them for situations where your dog may be frightened of men. Your dog should be able to approach strangers on its own terms. It will depend on how severe your dog is afraid. Your dog may be able to approach strangers quickly and allow you to pet and handle them. Or it might take several visits before it becomes comfortable with new people. Dogs with severe behavior issues may need to be moved to a safe area in their home. They can relax and not be anxious about visitors. It is important to consult a dog behaviorist if you notice your dog acting aggressively or growling. Visitors and your dog should never be put in situations where they could get bit.

If your dog approaches someone, it should not be forced to make eye contact. Instead, slow down and make non-threatening movements. Do not force your dog to be handled by strangers, especially children. Dogs may bite if they are forced to go beyond their comfort zones. Dogs that fear strangers might bite. It’s up to you to ensure that your dog is safe around everyone. You may need to move your dog into a different room if certain people come over.

Maintain a stress-free environment

Give your dog its own space. A quiet place for your dog, such as a bedroom, is a good idea. Your dog will find a safe place to retreat when it becomes anxious. It may be helpful to spray calming doggy hormones or apply a thunder shirt in a safe area. You should not let anyone touch your pet unless it is in a secure area.

It is acceptable to remove your dog from dangerous situations, especially if this will keep you and your dog safe. You don’t have to give your dog a lot of space. A corner in a quiet, comfortable room is enough. Your dog can relax with its blanket or favorite toy. You must make sure that no one enters this area without first checking. Your dog should feel secure and not be disturbed.

Veterinary Care and Pharmaceuticals

Talking to your vet about your pet’s fear is crucial. He or she can guide you on home tactics and help you decide if medication might be necessary. A consult with a veterinarian who is a certified behaviorist for dogs with fear issues may be recommended by your vet. He or she might recommend training at home with a certified dog trainer (CDPDT).

Obedience Training

Obedience training is a great way to manage fearful behavior and relieve some stress. A dog that is afraid of strangers may become aggressive, snapping and biting. It’s a good idea to consult a behaviorist or dog trainer to help you develop a plan. It is a good idea to find a dog trainer who can work with your pet. The sooner you get involved with your fearful pet, usually the better.

CDPDT trainers are able to approach situations objectively and show you how to make your pet feel comfortable in its environment. They may create a desensitization or training program for some pets. Others may decide that removing pets from fear-inducing situations is the best way to keep them safe. A trainer might recommend a wire basket muzzle to help with biting, while still allowing pets to eat and drink water. A certified trainer or veterinarian can ensure that any muzzle (or any muzzle for that matter) is used only in the appropriate situations and for a limited time. Muzzles should never be used to punish dogs. Nylon or cloth muzzles should only be used in appropriate situations and with a proper fit.

Fearful pets can present challenges to owners. However, it is possible to help fearful pets with their fear management by practicing patience and smart management.

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