How to Calm a Skittish Dog

How to Calm a Skittish Dog

Having a skittish dog at home can be challenging. Skittishness in dogs can be caused by various factors, including past trauma, lack of socialization, or genetic predisposition. However, with patience, understanding, and the right approach, you can help your furry friend overcome their fears and become more relaxed. Here are some tips on how to calm a skittish dog:

1. Provide a safe space: Create a designated area where your dog feels secure. This could be a crate or a room with their bed and toys. Ensure it is a quiet and peaceful place for them to retreat to when they feel anxious.

2. Maintain a routine: Dogs thrive on routine, so establish a consistent daily schedule for feeding, exercise, and playtime. This predictability can help reduce anxiety and make your dog feel more secure.

3. Use positive reinforcement: Reward calm behavior with treats, praise, or a favorite toy. Encouraging positive associations will help your dog feel more comfortable in anxiety-inducing situations.

4. Gradual exposure to triggers: Introduce your dog to the things that make them skittish in a controlled and gradual manner. For example, if your dog is afraid of strangers, start by having a friend stand at a distance and gradually decrease the distance over time.

5. Avoid punishment: Punishment can exacerbate fear and anxiety in skittish dogs. Instead, be patient and understanding, offering reassurance and comfort when they are scared.

6. Consider pheromone therapy: Products like Adaptil, which release calming pheromones, can help alleviate anxiety in dogs. These synthetic pheromones mimic the natural ones produced by mother dogs to reassure their puppies.

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7. Seek professional help: If your dog’s skittishness persists and interferes with their quality of life, it may be beneficial to consult with a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist. They can provide specialized guidance and develop a tailored plan to address your dog’s specific needs.


1. Why is my dog skittish around strangers?
Skittishness around strangers can be due to lack of socialization, past traumatic experiences, or genetic predisposition.

2. How long does it take to calm a skittish dog?
The time required to calm a skittish dog varies depending on the dog’s temperament, history, and severity of their fears. It may take weeks or even months to see significant progress.

3. Can medication help calm a skittish dog?
In severe cases, medication prescribed by a veterinarian may be necessary to help manage anxiety. However, this should always be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques.

4. How can I help my skittish dog during thunderstorms?
Create a safe space, play calming music, and consider using a ThunderShirt, which applies gentle pressure to soothe anxiety.

5. Should I force my skittish dog into new situations?
Forcing a skittish dog into new situations can worsen their anxiety. Instead, patiently and gradually introduce them to new experiences at their own pace.

6. Can other pets help calm a skittish dog?
In some cases, confident and well-socialized pets can serve as role models and help calm skittish dogs. However, it is crucial to introduce them slowly and monitor their interactions.

7. Can a skittish dog be cured?
While some skittish dogs may never completely overcome their fears, with proper care, many can learn to manage their anxieties and lead happy lives.

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