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How to win over an unfriendly or nervous dog

We’ve all dealt with a dog who doesn’t like us or is overly cautious towards people they don’t know well enough, and sometimes you and the dog have no choice but to be in the same room as each other because you were asked to look after them while their family was away or you’re at your friend’s house and their dog is being aggressive towards you. Or maybe you’re becoming a rescue dogs’ new family.



From my personal experience as a Pet Sitter my helpful hints are:

  • Smile and talk to the dog in a soft, kind manner.

  • Tell them that it’s ok and that you are not going to hurt them. It is also important that you remain calm and show the dog that you are not scared. Animals can sense fear.

  • Always let a dog smell you and get your scent before interacting with them.

  • And just like we do with children, it is important to get down to the dog’s level, sit on the ground or kneel at their height. Imagine being in their position. How would you feel if you had someone twice your size towering over you?

  • Look out for any aggressive signs such as: ears back, growling, snapping, barking or showing its teeth.


If it is clear the dog isn’t going to harm you but won’t come near you, give the dog some space and let them come to you if need be. Or you can try sitting on the ground for ten minutes or more with your back to the dog. This gives the dog the chance to come to you. You are less threatening to the animal this way because you are looking away from them, your face is out of their line of sight and the dog believes that you are ignoring them or that you are unaware that they’re there and you’re just doing your own thing. This relaxes the dog.


When you believe the animal is more comfortable, place your hand (preferably with fingers closed if you believe you may get bitten) behind you towards the dog. Let them come over and sniff your hand. (This could take a few minutes.) If they are right behind you, gently try to reach out and pat them.


Personally, this method works for me on the first go. However, it may take a few attempts, but that’s ok. It’s a different experience and scenario for everyone.


Hope this Helps😊

Kind regards Laura Henderson

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