How to Help Your Dog Overcome the Fear of Strangers


Last Updated on February 14, 2021

© unsplash A lot of dogs shake in fear when facing a stranger on the streets. The reason behind it has a lot of do with its genetics and breed; certain dogs are prone to be introverted while others aren’t as much. A fearful or scared dog might be a dog who didn’t socialize with other dogs and people during their lifetime, especially when they were puppies. A fearful dog can also be a dog who has or is being abused by their owners or other humans. If you’re a dog owner and your puppy gets super stressed and scared around strangers, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it, so without any further ado, let’s learn a little bit about dog behavior and how to help your dog get over fears.

1. Don’t force anything

Overcoming fears doesn’t always mean you have to go through them.  For example, some people think the best way to teach their kids not to be afraid of water is to throw them into the pool.  This type of method is only good for causing trauma in your kid’s or dog’s brain.  If your dog feels scared or nervous, the best thing you can do as an owner is to respect their boundaries, especially because dogs who sense danger may behave unexpectedly. From a simple growl to an actual attack, dogs are unpredictable when upset.  So what can you do? The key is to act as relaxed and friendly as you can towards strangers since animals tend to mimic their owner’s behavior a lot, and of course, instead of forcing and pushing your dog’s limits, try taking baby steps. 

2. Prepare for new visitors around the house

If you know your dog is scared of strangers, you should notify everyone that comes into your house to ignore your dog.  Most people tend to make a big fuss about dogs, trying to pet them and make big gestures towards them. For a scared, nervous dog, this is a nightmare.  So how to help your dog stop being scared of new visitors around the house? A simple and effective trick is to give some treats to the visitor so they can toss them on the floor while walking around the house. Your dog will follow the visitor expecting another treat to fall on the floor.  This way, your doggo will associate treats with this particular stranger instead of feeling fear.  If you feel like you don’t trust your dog around strangers, using a dog muzzle may be necessary. It’s always a good idea to keep a “safe room” unlocked where your dog can go when he feels stressed or scared.  Let’s say you’re at a party or are receiving many guests in your living room. Your dog might become overwhelmed too quickly and in need of some rest. Let him go to this safe space for a while and allow him to leave whenever he wants.