Tips for dealing with a scared dog

At Swifto, we recognize that every dog has a unique personality and temperament. We understand that some dogs may be a bit anxious when they first meet you so we’d love to address a common challenge that dog walkers may face – helping our furry friends overcome fear and build a trusting relationship with you! 
Understanding Dog Fear:
Dogs may exhibit fear for various reasons, ranging from past traumatic experiences to unfamiliar scents, sounds, or even our appearance. It's crucial to recognize the signs of fear, which can include cowering, growling, trembling, or attempting to flee. Once you can better understand why the dog is fearful, you can take the necessary steps to make them feel more comfortable and safe in your presence! 
Patience is Key:
When faced with a fearful and anxious dog, patience and understanding become your most valuable tool! Let the dog approach you first, especially if they do not know you. Give the dog time to warm up to you and become comfortable in your presence, using positive words and a calm demeanor. Pay attention to your own body language and avoid showing fear, as dogs can pick up on emotions, which may increase their anxiety. Maintain a relaxed posture, avoid direct eye contact, and use gentle movements. A calm demeanor can help reassure a nervous pup! 
Be sure to move slowly and avoid overwhelming the dog. It is best to spend extra time getting the pup to warm up to you rather than being in a rush to get them geared up and outside since this could harm your relationship with the dog! Try to encourage the dog by using one of their toys and yummy treats, if allowed! 
Building a Positive Relationship:
It’s important to make walking an enjoyable experience for the dog, so bringing treats along your walks, if the client is okay with this, can also help with that! Give them a treat as soon as they get outside, then a few as you keep walking. Eventually, the dog will associate walks with a positive experience! However, some dogs may not be as food-motivated, so if this is the case, you can try bringing along their favorite toy. 
Be sure you are always talking to the dog in a positive tone of voice, with lots of praise throughout the walk. Try not to rush when they need to take a potty break, as this can cause the dog to become frustrated. You want to be sure the dog trusts you, so while walking, be on the lookout for anything that may startle or scare them, such as construction, loud noises, other dogs, etc., and try to avoid it. Most of all, it’s important to be patient when trying to get a dog to walk with you. Always remember, never get frustrated with the dog, and try to understand why they may not want to walk! We never want to force the dog to walk, but rather encourage them as much as possible. If they really don't want to, it's okay to come back early and spend the rest of the walk duration indoors, at least after the dog did their business outside.
Consistency is Crucial:
Consistency is key when working with fearful dogs. Stick to a routine on their dog walks, be patient, and offer positive reinforcement consistently. Over time, the dog will learn to trust you, creating a foundation for a lasting bond! :-)
Communication with Pet Parents:
Always be sure to communicate with the dog's owners as understanding the dog's history, any triggers or fears they may have, and collaborating with the owners on strategies to ease their pet's anxiety will be beneficial for all future dog walks. 
Remember, each dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It's essential to tailor your approach based on the individual needs and personality of each furry friend. If you ever need assistance when working with a dog that is afraid of you, don’t hesitate to contact the Swifto office, as well as the pet owner. We are here to help! 
We hope these tips prove to be helpful the next time you encounter a scared dog!