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Adopting A Fearful Dog

October 1, 2022
October is Adopt A Dog Month! Our canine friends come in all shapes and sizes, and they all have their own personalities. Some are bold and friendly, some are calm and stoic, and others are, well, a bit nervous. A Washington DC vet offers some tips on dealing with a fearful dog in this article.

Body Language

Fido can’t talk, but he does give off some clear signals when he is uneasy. Learn to read your pup’s body language. If your pooch trembles, yawns, tucks his tail, licks his lips, growls, whines, or barks, then he is clearly uncomfortable. Give him some space in a quiet, comfy area.


Try to avoid looking Fido directly in the eye, especially at first. This can be a sign of intimidation in doggy language.

Positive Interactions

Keep interactions with your canine buddy positive. Always talk to Fido in a cheerful tone, and reward him with treats and praise when he does something right. If your furry bff breaks a rule, don’t punish him. If you catch him in the act of misbehaving, you can verbally reprimand him. However, aside from that, focus on rewarding him for good behavior.


Nervous pups often have a lot of nervous energy. Make sure Fido has lots of outlets for his doggy angst. Provide plenty of fun toys, and make sure he’s getting lots of walks, activity, and playtime.


Mastering new tricks and commands can be a great confidence booster for a fearful dog. Take time to work with your four-legged friend every day.

Other Dogs

Fido may be scared of other dogs, so you’ll need to be careful here. The last thing you want is for him to get into an altercation with another pooch! Give your furry friend some time to get settled in before letting him interact with other pups. Remember, a single bad experience can set back weeks or even months of progress! If your canine pal displays aggressive behaviors, such as growling or lunghing, he may benefit from professional training.


Be patient with your new pet. Time, love, and trust are the things that will make the biggest difference. Focus on offering love, stability, and great care. You’ll be getting tail wags and happy dances in no time! Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us, your Washington DC animal clinic, today!

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