Home & Leisure

My Pet World: Reader offers more tips for a dog afraid of his home

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

You had a question from Wisconsin about a rescue dog who was scared of his home, but fine everywhere else. I am having the opposite problem. We rescued a mixed Terrier two months ago from Texas. She is now nine months and healthy. She is very good with my husband and me but is scared of anyone else, including my 20-year-old granddaughter who lives most of the time with us.

We take her with us whenever we can, but she growls and barks at other people. She is not mad, just scared. She doesn't like treats (and I have tried so many). Otherwise, I would carry them and have people give them to her and tell her "good dog."

She doesn't even want to go out to the bathroom without us having to just make her go. If there is anyone outside, she will run for the house. She is getting better with our 20-year-old cat but is very jealous. She loves to sit with us and if I am on the computer, she is right at my feet. She loves toys. We went to puppy kindergarten and passed but she was nervous. I don't know how to help her feel less nervous.

— Dineen Rivera, Portland, CT

Dear Dineen,

I think you’re right; she’s afraid. She’s experienced a lot in her short life, but there are several ways you can help her adjust. First, dogs who don’t like treats simply need a more high-value treat to tempt them. Look for dog food in a roll (sometimes in a freezer in the store), slice it into discs, and then cut it into further bits. Hold off on feeding her, so she is hungry enough to try these “treats” and realize she likes them. It also can help to delay a meal when she is meeting someone new, so she will be in a better position to accept the treats from the others.


Stick with the training. It helps build her confidence and creates a bond with you. Ask your granddaughter to help train her. You can always replace a treat with a pat on the head after each command, but high-value treats usually will work.

Also, consider over-the-counter calming chews and, in this instance, the calming shirt/wraps, as noted above.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.





BC Bart van Leeuwen 9 Chickweed Lane Sarah's Scribbles Randy Enos Zits