How To Help An Insecure Dog

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Question submitted by Michele

We recently rescued a dog that is very insecure. He has started to warm up but is very afraid of my husband. Can you help us train him or recommend a trainer?

Terry’s answer


First, thanks for for rescuing this dog. You say recently, I’m going to use the time frame of a couple of weeks for my answers and suggestions. Rescue dogs are almost always insecure when you first bring them into your home. Think of what they have been through. They need to learn how to trust again. Dogs have a hierarchy of needs – home first, food second, and company third. Without a secure home, they have nowhere to safely bring the food. Hope that makes sense. Home equals security and safety. It will take a little time for your new guy to feel comfortable. As he gets acclimated, you will need to establish some boundaries or rules of the house for your new dog. Nothing big, but dogs do much better with some boundaries. They know what to expect and how to react to it. The more they know what to expect, the more self confidence they get. An example of this is that he is only allowed on the furniture when he is invited – and should get off when asked. You can also make it a rule that he has to sit to have a leash put on for a walk. That will turn into the nice habit for him to always sit when you head toward the door.

I would also encourage your husband to be aloof – as little direct eye contact as possible –  and let the dog come to him. He can, as he walks by, toss a treat so the dog begins to see him as the non-threatening thing that throws food. Consistency and patience will be your friends during this process – but you will get a big payoff in having a secure, confident dog.

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at and on Facebook.

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