How to Calm a Scared Dog

Providing praise and treats can distract a dog during fearful stimulation.
i Yawning Dog image by KateC from

Dogs can fear the strangest things; while loud noises annoy some pets, others can be afraid of a person or even a smell. You can modify behavior with patience and time, and thankfully, there are also techniques available to calm your dog at the moment he is facing his fear.

Step 1

Determine what is causing your dog to be fearful -- for example, an object, person, noise or smell. If your pet is afraid of multiple things, this could be a result of either prior experiences, such as abuse, or personality -- the dog is a "nervous" type. However, it's necessary to determine what you need to address in order to work with your fearful pet and achieve success.

Step 2

Sooth your dog in mid-panic by providing a favorite treat or toy while talking calmly and petting him. Lead him back to his cage or crate -- a place of safety -- and allow him to lie down inside. Make this spot more private by covering it with a blanket or towel to provide additional security to your pet.

Step 3

Reduce extreme anxiety in your dog by introducing a calming pheromone to the air, in either a spray or a room plug-in. Having this on hand before the dog becomes too fearful can ease his discomfort before it gets out of hand.

Step 4

Place a leash or harness on your dog when he is calm again and introduce him to his fear in a small dose. For example, if your dog is afraid of the television, have him stand by the television while it is off or on low volume for a few minutes.

Step 5

Use treats and praise to make it a positive experience for your dog; for example, as you are encouraging him, let him sniff around the television to find a few well-placed treats. Provide cuddling if he expresses a need for affection.

Step 6

Help your dog lose his fear by increasing his exposure when he's relaxed. For example, turn the television on or increase the volume while you are praising him. Encourage him to investigate it. Have your dog perform commands, such as "sit" or "stand," during the stimulation so he remains focused on you and not the fear. Repeat the process in a day or so. The goal is for your dog to eventually be around what scares him, yet show little or no fear because he now feels safe.

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