Welcome to Empowerment for Fearful Dogs

Welcome! Having a fearful dog isn't easy. In fact it is exhausting. But there are solutions that can help you lessen your dog's fears and help turn them into a brave and balanced companion.

This section is to acquaint you with what fear is, how untreated fear effects your dog and your relationship, give you suggestions for supplemental tools to use in your everyday life, and more. 

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
— Frank Herbert, Dune

What is Fear?

Fear is the body's natural response to a perceived threat. There is no arguing with fear. You can't tell your pet they they do or do not need to feel fear. You also can't reinforce it by supporting or comforting your pet.  What we can do is understand that what causes fear is a combination of brain chemistry, previous experiences, and trauma. Once we understand what is causing our pet's fear, we can carefully adjust their experiences until there feel more secure and eventually confident and brave.

Understanding Untreated Fear

Untreated fear tends to escalate. If a dog perceives a threat as something they need to control, they will usually control it with aggression. This is especially the case when escape is prevented. Examples might be when you're holding your dog, on leash, under a table, at the vet, etc. Fear does not evaporate on its own. "Socialization" a hot topic in pet ownership, ends at 16 weeks. So unless your dog is younger than that, you have to consider other avenues. You also cannot be eliminated through force. 

Supplemental Tools to Help Your Pup

There are many supplemental tools when dealing with fear. They include:

Thunder Shirts

DAP Collar

Calming Cap


How to Understand How Your Dog Is Feeling


How We Use Food and Movement 

We use food in conjunction with a trigger to create a positive association. Exposure alone does little to affect fear response but the chemical association food causes can slowly change a dog's opinion of something scarey. Movement is used to slow the dog down, give them some control of approach and escape and in general, empower the dog to make brave choices. 

What to Expect

Conquering fear takes time. This is especially the case in older dogs and dogs have are recovering from trauma. But dogs are resilient creatures and when given the right tools, will usually choose the path of conjuring rather than cowering. Be patient and apply what you learn in this class. You will be pleasantly surprised at your dog's process.

Molly Sumridge