Using hiding spots for fearful dogs

fearful dogs Oct 17, 2023

Fearful dogs benefit from having the option to retreat and hide when they're nervous, and so it's a good idea to provide hiding places for them around the house.  However, even the best hiding spots will become less valuable to your dog if they're not put to their best use. Here are some tips for helping your dog get the most out of their hiding spots: 


Tip #1: Make Hiding Spots Available Always

Avoid accidentally (or purposefully!) blocking off access to hiding spots. If a dog is scared, retreating and hiding might make them feel better- and it's a better option than lunging or biting to get personal space.  


Tip #2: Provide multiple hiding spots throughout the hosue

Placing hiding spots in all the rooms where your dog spends significant time will make it easier for them to get to one when they need it. It will also decrease the risk that your dog will have to choose between hiding in another room vs. being close to you. 


Tip #3: Don't pull your dog out of their hiding spot(s)

Reaching into a crate, under the bed, or into any other hiding spot to pull a fearful dog out is a good way to get bitten. It's also a great way to teach your dog that their hiding spots aren't actually safe for them! Try to keep hiding spots "off limits" to all family members, except your dog. 


Tip #4: Reward your dog for checking out hiding spots, even when they don't need them

If your dog doesn't take to hiding spots right away, you can reward your dog (with treats or other things they love) when they investigate them-  even when they're not scared. You can do more "passive" training by sprinkling treats in your dog's hiding spots for them to find later- much like you might if you were starting out with crate training. 


Tip #5: Stay close to your dog's hiding spot if that brings them comfort

If your dog prefers to be near you much of the time, they might be more likely to use a hiding spot if you are next to it. Keep this in mind when deciding where to place your dog's hiding spots!





If you have any questions about hiding spots, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We'll be happy to try to help!

Want help building your dog's confidence? Join us inside our training membership for fearful dogs, Confidence Builders Club.