Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

How Can I Help My Aussie Be Less Afraid Of Everything?

by Victoria
(Oceanside, Ca)

I have a mini Aussie who is 9 months old, and he is sweet playful, and has such a kind heart. He was very well socialized and loved people, abandoned my husband and I at the park to get belly rubs from everyone else! But right after he got neutered he started acting skittish, which has lead to what he is now, afraid of everything. I mean deathly afraid of cars driving by, people walking by, other dogs, and skate boards/ strollers. I've reintroduced him to many many dogs, even more people, and we walk by cars every single day! Help! I want to make my Aussie a happy boy and free of fears! Open to any suggestions.

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by: Becky

I'm sorry he is so afraid! How sad for him! Look up Caesar Milan (sp). He is that dog training expert on tv. I think on Animal Planet. I know I saw a show about a dog terribly afraid. So far any problems we have had or training tricks we have tried have worked great w/our guys. We have had 2 and lost our boy to cancer at 11. That left us with his sad little sis. We got 2 more aussie pups and boy did she whip them into shape.. She is 13 now and slowed by arthritis. But is the alpha here.thanks to his ideas. Good luck! I do know that our fears of thunder storms have disappeared too since we quit cuddling and making over them. Just like Caesar said.

Advice for fear
by: Nancy


Sorry to hear about your dog. That's a tough thing to go through. That happened to my dog in some of the same ways but not all. We had to move and rent a house and the landlord wouldn't accept all our dogs, I had to find my boy's sister dog a home and we moved. I still had my boy and another dog. My husband then once we moved out of state, he lost his job back in 2008 and the older dog died of old age. Which left me with just my boy dog. Georgie. He was part aussie and part german shepherd. But with changes, which no aussie deals with well, it really freaked him out pretty bad. He started hiding in our bedroom when people visited. Became fearful of the public. Even was scared to drink water our of ANY bowl. We tried all kinds of bowls, ceramic, plastic, stainless steel. It was so weird. My husband figured out that a frizbee worked. He was willing to drink from that so we filled it many times a day and managed to work with Georgie. He was placed on an anxiety drug from the vet. He was a happy dog when he was just with me and my husband. He would still play with us but when anyone came around he was a completely different dog. I also found out that now that I have a purebred auss, there are certain ages that factor in, like my dog had a socialization issue with a very aggressive dog and she was 7 months old. I guess at that age if an auss is upset or traumatized it can be damaging so now my auss has some fear aggression. Meaning she doesn't like other dogs and some people and she will come across aggressively but its based on fear. The worst thing we did was try to comfort her by petting her and holding her. Which a trainer told us that was telling the dog her behavior was good. so, we put our dog on a leash when we had visitors until she was calm and we would let her off once the visitor and our dog felt more at ease. I hope some of these suggestions help. Has your dog been through changes at all?? Good luck, I know its really hard and its frustrating not knowing what to do for your babe.

more thoughts on afraid
by: Fran

Since it seems that different individual dogs require different treatment, you might also consider reading Patricia McConnell's small book "The Cautious Canine" -- an easy, quick read. (It helped us through several fear-caused issues.) That said, we are still dealing with occasional panic attacks; so, I am currently reading a book by Ali Brown, "Scaredy Dog!". It addresses some underlying issues and offers behavioral training techniques. However you chose to help your buddy, good luck to you!

Thank you everyone
by: Victoria

Thank you so much for your input, we are looking into all of the options, Cesear Milan is one of the best options. But all of this happened after he went to the vet and was neutered at 6 months thats when everything changed. It is good to know that I shouldn't cuddle him when he is scared (makes him think bad behavior is okay)

by: Rockin R Mini Aussies

Hi, just a small note- you are to never praise a fearful dog.
I realized some time ago that I had been doing this to my very shy girl. Saying "GOOD GIRL, ITS OK, GOOD GIRL, ITS OK" when she was shy, wouldn't come, whatever.
This made her more fearful, I was praising her for her shyness! When I stopped this, and I even got after her for slinking around, she has changed dramatically. She will never be a real friendly, never meets a stranger type, but has def improved!
Thanks, Shawna

This worked for us
by: Anonymous

We developed Scout our fearful Aussie by really listening and analyzing what Cesar says and does.

1- Scout was returned after a month at 3 months old to his farm where he was bred

2- We adopted him at 6 months old

He threw up in the car, acted totally distant when he got home to our house and was TOTALLY hand afraid.

1- He does not trust humans he loved once and was totally rejected and returned to his pack. Message - Humans cannot be trusted.

2- He missed his dogs and pack.

1- Everything is ok, we love you unconditionally we actually slept in our sofa pit and he slept NEAR us for the first month, he REFUSED to sleep with us.

2- 30 days in we took him to the dog park OFF LEASH from the moment he got out of the car and it was a miracle. Oh my, I can have my own friends! Scout was thrilled

So about 3 months in, he all of a sudden in the middle of the night woke me up, licked my hand, stared into my eyes, and he did it. He curled up next to me let out the biggest sigh you can imagine and fell into a deep sleep lying against me.

He has not left my side since and my family jokes that Scout is attached by an invisible tether to Dad. He checks everyone every night multiple times to make sure he has done his job and is an amazing animal.

He loves the dog park and his friends, but his "pack" us, is #1 and he is incredible.

I think, they are so sensitive and especially sensitive to ANY negative input, rejection is crushing to an Aussie they live for "good dog" and going to the dog park and socializing.

I have noticed this with other Aussie's too, they get a big smile when playing with other dogs, but no more than 100' from their Alpha.

Oh, the new challenge? From the front door to the street is his, come inside then he goes crazy. So, eh, not perfect.

mini aussie
by: Kelli

we got Missy from a backyard breeder. we wanted to save her from a terrible life. we have had her almost 4 months and had her spayed before she came into heat. she still tries to hide and runs, she knows her name but wont come unless she feels the need. I have taught her to sit so I can pick her up. my male companion no way. you can see the fear in her eyes when I try to let him pet her. he is soft spoken and very gentle. I heard they were quirky but... Lavender oil on my hands has some calming effects for her. I am finally gaining her trust and starting to leash train her. she gets plenty of exercise as we have a fenced acre and a jack Russell mix need I say more. when she wants to she is extremely loving to me and a real snuggler, it sad because she almost immediately forgets that she is safe... any advise ?

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