How can you help a timid rescue dog? As animal lovers ourselves, we know how hard it can be to see a dog in need without offering a helping hand. When a dog is feeling scared, it is important to avoid forcing him to do anything he does not want to do.

Rescue dogs are even more susceptible to anxiety because they have a whole history of which we know nothing. Working with your timid rescue dog to make him feel more comfortable is the best way to quell the anxiety. If your newly-adopted dog has a tendency to be timid, afraid or hesitant, try the following tips to help him overcome his fear:

Recognize the Signs of Anxiety

If you want to best help your timid rescue dog when he feels anxious, you have to be able to tell when he is scared. The following behaviors could all be signs of a timid dog:

  • Yawning
  • Lack of interest
  • Panting
  • Repeatedly sniffing the ground
  • Growling
  • Pulling

Paying attention to your dog’s behavior will alert you to an immediate change in his mood, especially if he starts to get scared. This allows you to help calm him down before his anxiety gets out of control. As you and your new dog get to know each other, prioritize spending time together without loud noises or distractions. Offer your new pup treats while you pet him so he understands that you are a person he can trust.

Change the Situation

When a dog is feeling scared, it is almost impossible to alter her mood. Instead, do what you can to change the situation. If a new person in your house is making your rescue pupper feel nervous, ask them to wait in a different room until your dog calms down. If you are on a walk and your dog is afraid of another dog, cross the street to add some space. Removing the source of the anxiety will help your rescue dog relax. The more you help her relax, the more she will see you are a safe person.

Boost Confidence to Help a Timid Rescue Dog

Like people, some dogs have personalities that are just more prone to anxiety. Just as in people, boosting an anxious dog’s confidence can help him feel better in general. Consider enrolling your shy shelter dog into training classes so he learns about praise for successfully completing tasks. Engage your dog with puzzle toys that provide an immediate reward for his efforts. Work with your dog on simple commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” and be plentiful with praise when your dog masters them. Slowly but surely, your timid rescue dog will gain confidence, which will hopefully help decrease anxiety.

Provide a Safe Space

Everyone needs a place where they feel safe, and animals are no different. When bringing a rescue dog into a new home, she needs a place where she can feel completely at ease. Creating a safe space that belongs just to your dog gives her somewhere to go when she feels anxious. This can be a kennel, a dog bed, or even a special corner of your bedroom. Fill this safe space with cozy toys, familiar smells, and the occasional treat so your dog can associate it with a happy feeling.

At Westarbor Animal Hospital, we want to help you keep your pets happy and healthy. Our wide range of veterinary services are designed to encourage optimal health and wellness. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call 734-769-5391.

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