Is your dog displaying fearful or nervous behaviors? Are you unsure if something happened to cause your dog to behave in such a manner? Or maybe you’re thinking to yourself “why does my dog have bad anxiety?” Well, don’t worry. There are some common underlying reasons why your pet may be displaying these behaviors that we’re happy to bring to light.
Sometimes people misinterpret fearfulness as due to a form of mistreatment, and owners fear that it was something that they did to have caused the dog to fear. Though, sometimes it’s not so much about an event that has occurred and instead is your dog’s fear of assuming the role of pack leader. That’s right! Sometimes our pets are nervous about taking the lead.
If we think of a toddler and parent relationship, it may feel nervous or scary for a child to be placed in a different environment without their guardian. They may think that they’re out of place, or even in an entirely different world without guidance. If a dog displays signs of anxiety, sometimes they’re interpreting themselves to be the pack leader, or in this case, they’re the parent and they realize they’re not cut out for the responsibility that this crazy world holds!
Simple Ways To Show You’re Still The Pack Leader
So, let’s cut them some slack and see how we can show our pets that we’re still the pack leader. Now don’t worry, it doesn’t mean anything drastic, and definitely nothing with mean intent. It’s as simple as learning to say ‘no.’ Dogs don’t share the same emotions as humans, so don’t worry about hurting their feelings, no matter how big those puppy eyes get! Saying no is an essential trait of a leader and will establish leadership by letting them know they can’t do everything they want.
Saying no will help establish control, which sounds like an intense concept, but your dog needs to know who makes the rules. An excellent first step is not leaving food out. Feeding on a schedule helps as a direct way to tell the dog who controls the food (that’s you, Pack Leader!).
Unless during play, don’t let your dog walk all over you – quite literally! As taking a position over, you will make your dog feel like they dominate you. Similarly, don’t let your dog pull on the leash during walks; they will think they control the situation and guide the owner to the next destination. Pack leaders are in control – always
Short Term Ways To Help Ease Anxiety
Unfortunately, establishing a pack leader may take some time. Remember to be patient with your dog and with yourself, knowing that you will benefit from a gradual pace. In the interim, try these steps to keep your pup knowing that they’re safe and you’re in control:
- A Gradual Introduction: Let your dog get to know people at their own pace. Give them time to become confident and relaxed before introducing them to new people or allowing others to pet/play with them.
- Let Them Decide: When having friends and family over, have them ignore the dog first, so they don’t feel the pressure. Let the dog decide if they’re comfortable coming up to introduce themselves. If not, let them go back to their safe space when they’re scared.
Remember to be as consistent with these rules, no matter how gradual they may be. Practice makes a Pack Leader!
What are some of the ways you show your dog you’re still the pack leader?