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How to be an advocate for your nervous dog, writes Grantham pet expert Sara Barnes

There have been quite a few posts lately in the local dog Facebook groups about nervous dogs and how to approach, or not approach them, writes Sara Barnes of Who Lets Your Dogs Out?

If you have a nervous dog then as a dog guardian it is your responsibility to advocate for your dog when you are out and about or even in the home.

An easy way to help reduce unwanted interactions that could reduce the uncomfortable interactions for your dog would be to make sure it’s wearing a bright yellow collar or harness and ideally a bright yellow lead with the word ‘nervous’ on them.

Sara Barnes.
Sara Barnes.

It is also up to you to properly advocate for your dog. This means simply stepping in front of them and asking people to not reach out or touch your dog.

How you do this will have a massive impact on how the conversation and situation progresses.

If you are openly aggressive then the response you will get will also be hostile towards you in return.

So saying “please don’t approach/reach out, they are nervous” will get you a better response than saying “back off!”.

As dog guardians we need to educate, not humiliate or get aggressive with people and remember not everyone else understands the need of your dog like you do.

Obviously, if a person ignores your request to not reach out to your dog then you may need to be a bit more forceful in your wording but stand your ground and don’t be bullied into making your dog have a bad experience.

If your nervous dog is a bite risk then you should consider introducing a muzzle, to protect others and them, and even if they aren’t you want to consider keeping them on lead and under close control in crowded/busy areas.

The better you advocate for your dog, the more positive experiences they will have and over time (it could take a really long time) they will become less nervous of whatever triggers them.

If you want to approach or stroke a dog you meet out that you don’t know always ask the guardian/person holding the lead if it is ok to do so first.

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