Top Dog Pet Sitters has met thousands of dogs. Some are rescues, some were purchased from breeders. We are honored to meet each fur baby and enjoy learning their personalities. Many are playful. Many are fearful. Here are the five ways fear is acquired in dogs and four ways to help them overcome their fear.

Fear is acquired by:

Genetics. Fear is passed from generation to generation through natural selection or poor breeding.

Stress during pregnancy. A mother stressed during pregnancy passes on stress hormones in utero.

Maternal behavior. Puppies reared by a fearful mother are more fearful.

Lack of socialization. Failure to properly socialize during the critical window of up to three months results in fear of new things and social shyness.

Bad Experiences. Fear from painful or scary experiences.

How can you help your pup overcome fear?

Do not encourage the fear. Your pup is in fear and your reaction is to provide comfort. You might want to pet them or put them in your lap. Your pup interprets your reaction as a reward. Instead, you need to remain calm.

Swaddle your pup. Swaddling provides your dog with constant, gentle pressure that they may find comforting.

Expose your pet to the fear in a controlled setting. For example, if your pet fears a certain noise, you might be able to help them overcome the fear by desensitizing them to it. It is safest to work with a dog behaviorist. If you do not seek out professional guidance, you run the risk of making the problem even worse.

Take your pup to the vet. Your vet can rule out a medical problem that might be contributing to the fearful reaction and prescribe a treatment plan. Your vet may recommend medication, a behaviorist, or even a tool like a Thunder Shirt.