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Approaching / Opening a conversation with a Fearful Dog II

  A fearful / nervous Dog may turn its body and head away from you while looking back towards you often or staring. Movement is good. Tossing a treat to the dog may get it to move towards the treat. (Toss the treat in front of the dog or behind the Dog, not between you and the Dog) You can also offer your hand, low to the ground and holding it there until the Dog shows interest in approaching and sniffing it. The Dog may be lip licking at this point.

If the Dog does not move or take the treat, it is past its threshold / too scared. Remain in place, relax, continue with giving your own calming signals until it shows interest in the treat. Speak softly.


Momentarily look towards the dog. If you make eye contact, immediately turn your head away from the Dog while looking down or away with your eyes. Repeat this several times paying attention to how the Dog responds.Scratching your head /chin, Yawning (real yawns) while speaking softly.



If the Dog raises its body or gets to its feet, it may be interested in approaching you. Do not move towards the Dog, let the Dog come to you. Toss a treat and give your hand on the ground. remain in place until the Dog approaches and keep your hand in place after it sniffs it.

If the Dog tries to "get away" or hide from you, start over. Move slightly away from the Dog, repeat the scratching or yawning while avoiding eye contact.



Sitting sideways or back to the dog (small Dogs) while remaining relaxed and patient is key. You can extended your arm/ hand behind you for the Dog to sniff. Wait for the Dog! Continue scratching and / or yawning. Acting "uninterested" in the Dog is helpful.


If the Dog gives a yawn or full body "shake" (as if shaking off) it is OK then to move a little closer while mirroring the Dogs behavior. If it yawns, you yawn. If it scratches itself, you scratch. This is now an open conversation showing the Dog you understand. If you are close enough to pet the Dog or present your hand (low to the ground) do this slowly and below the head. NEVER PET A FEARFUL DOG ON nor OVER ITS HEAD!



Mirror what the Dog does. Keep your relaxed position sitting sideways to the Dog. Blinking often and keeping your eyes near squinting, mouth slightly open / smiling (no teeth showing) Continue speaking softly allowing the Dog to approach you while you remain in place.


When the Dog allows you to touch it, only touch its chest or chin. Do not move your hand over the Dogs head ever. Scratches on the side of the neck (not the back). Only pet for a maximum of 2 seconds, move your hand away, wait a few more seconds to see how the Dog responds. Pet again for 2 seconds at a time and stop until the Dog moves closer. If all is well, the Dog may yawn again or if very well, will give a stretch (like a play bow)