Fearful Dogs Facebook Group Facebook Page

C.A.R.E. Care for Reactive Dogs website

The Blind Dog Training site has good ideas and resources for all blind dogs.

Veterinarians & behaviorists can also provide you with support.


It is important to find trainers that understand how to work with fearful dogs. Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, but it doesn’t mean that they have studied the current literature on dog behavior. A bad trainer can make matters worse for you and your dog.

Beware the use of ‘dominance‘ to explain a dog’s inappropriate behavior. Dogs are social creatures who use cooperation far more often than competition or conflict to solve problems with people or other dogs. A trainer who talks about pack leadership, or being the alpha to your dog is demonstrating that they have either not studied dog behavior or are not current in the understanding of dogs and how to change behavior.

A trainer who recommends a prong, choke or shock collar should be escorted out of your house.

Questions to ask a trainer

How would you describe the type of training methods you teach?

You want to hear “positive reinforcement”, “relationship based”, “reward based” or “clicker training” somewhere in their answer. These are not the only ways to help scared dogs but are less likely to cause your dog’s behavior to become worse, as can happen if dogs are punished for their behavior.

What was the last training book you read? What did you think of it?

Do an online search and see who wrote the book and when it was written. Read it yourself.

Who is your favorite trainer? Which trainers have you learned the most from?

Names of well-known positive reinforcement trainers include; Patricia McConnell, Jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, Pat Miller, Karen Pryor, Suzanne Clothier, Ken Ramirez, Nicole Wilde, Ali Brown.

Avoid Cesar Millan enthusiasts (most professional trainers and behaviorists know he’s not as wonderful as TV audiences do). Balanced training usually means that the trainer uses a combination of both positive reinforcement and punishment (P+) during training. This can be confusing for many dogs and punishment (as most people know it) should be avoided when training fearful dogs.

How long have you been training dogs?

Do you have experience working with fearful dogs? Have you been successful helping these dogs?

Is there someone I can contact as a reference?

Trainers who are graduates of the The Academy for Dog Trainers will have a good understanding of how to work with fear-based behaviors.