Help! My Puppy Runs From Me.

A new puppy is a great friend in almost any situation. But what do you do if you adopt a new puppy and it seems to be skittish and scared? You don’t want to take it back, but how do you get it to trust you? You want it to feel happy and safe in its new home. If you want to give it a happy home, you need to gain its trust. Gaining trust takes time and lots of patience. Here are some tips and tricks to help your new friend adapt to their new surroundings and learn to trust.

Give it time

While adopting puppies from rescues is becoming more and more popular, it does come with a few drawbacks. For starters, many rescue dogs have dealt with some sort of trauma in the past. Therefore, they come along with fears and impulses. If your puppy is running away from you, be patient, and give it time to adjust. Puppies being afraid of people is similar to a veteran being afraid of guns or balloons popping. Most likely, it stems from a previous owner mistreating it. Therefore, the most important way to handle a scared puppy is to give it time and space. Eventually, it will come to the realization you will not hurt it. You should also keep in mind; there is an adjustment period when a puppy moves into a different home. When a dog is adopted, the entirety of what it knows is suddenly uprooted. It’s logical for your puppy to be scared of your house and the new people in it. Sometimes the adjustment period is so extreme; even house-trained dogs will relieve themselves inside. However, once they get comfortable, they go right back to going outside to relieve themselves. Sometimes, all it takes for a pup to be itself is the time to scope out its new environment.

Use Food and Toys

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who studied responses to an outside stimulus in dogs. To quickly summarize his studies, he learned dogs could develop muscle memory to react to commonly presented situations. A good way to ease your way into a dog’s trust is to bring food or toys. Sit down to read in the same room for a short period of time, but don’t invade its space. Let it decide how close it wants you to be and repeat the process daily. Over time, the puppy will start associating you with food or toys. It will begin breaking down its barriers and learning to trust you. Repetitive rewards for socializing and learning to trust will teach any pup you’re here to love it. Keep in mind; each dog prefers its type of food or toy.

Be Passive

The main goal when dealing with anxiety in a dog is to avoid behaviors likely to put it on edge. If you had to learn to trust someone who was looming way above your head, you would probably struggle too. A puppy might react to fear instinctively, sort of like a fight or flight response. Approach slowly, and get on your hands and knees, so you’re closer to the height of the puppy. You have immobilized yourself and made it clear you have no intention to be aggressive or confrontational. Avoid eye contact because dominant dogs will see it as a challenge, and submissive dogs will feel intimidated. Do everything you can to make sure the pup feels safe and welcome. It’s also good to let dogs sniff your hand by holding out a fist, palm facing down. Your fist is much smaller than your opened hand, so dogs will feel less threatened by it.

Stay Calm

Different dogs react very differently to high levels of energy, sometimes in undesirable ways. When you’re dealing with a shy or scared puppy, it is most likely to try to protect itself. It will either run away or lash out, so it can be dangerous to handle the situation. Pups can read your body language and sense your fear. If you’re not comfortable, your nerves can raise their natural defenses and aggression. Emotions can easily sway the situation. If the dog feels uncomfortable with your body language, it may fear for its safety. If you are not sure you can stay calm, it’s best to avoid the encounter entirely.

Let Them Make the Moves

Trust is never easy, so when you are dealing with a shy or scared puppy, earning its trust is essential. Do not approach your puppy head-on because it can be intimidating. A good, passive way to introduce yourself is to approach from the side and sit next to it. Face the same direction as the dog, and offer your fist for the pup to sniff. However, do not touch the dog until you have given it a chance to consider it. If your puppy sniffs your hand and stays calmly in place, it is wary, but you can pet its chest. A lick shows the pup accepting you. However, if it responds by looking away or with a lack of attention, it simply has no interest. It’s not personal. However, the best decision would be to accept the fact it’s not ready to connect yet. Be patient with your pup, because as it realizes you’re not a threat, it begins taking steps towards a relationship.

Know the Signs

Despite the lack of ability to speak the same language as us, dogs can be very communicative. If you know the signs of fear in pups, it’s much easier to acquaint them with your love. There are lots of behaviors puppies show when trying to communicate with you. They need space. For example, discomfort is displayed with panting, tucking its tail between its legs, yawning, growling, and more. When these behaviors are displayed, the best plan is to give your puppy space. Giving your pup the space it needs is a great way to substantiate your intentions. If it knows you won’t force anything, it will feel safer with you.

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