3 Tips for Training Your Fraidy Cat Dog - Jim Burwell's Petiquette

Is this your fraidy cat dog?


Help with a fearful dog


You want to take him for a walk but he won’t let you collar him up, let alone get him to go outside!
This problem is frustrating not only for you and your dog, but also your other dogs if you have more than one.

Here are three tips for training your fraidy cat dog that will get you on the road to success and a happier life with your dog.

  • Train using reward-based training
  • Let everything be his idea
  • Don’t rush the process

Reward-Based Training for Your Insecure Dog

  • Use reward-based training methods versus correction-based methods for working with your fraidy cat dog.
  • Use high value food treats to train your dog as you build a strong foundation of confidence through successful obedience training. Begin by working on sits, down and come.
  • While you are building that confidence, you are also building your dog’s trust in you.
  • Now it’s time for you to begin making positive associations with your dog’s flat buckle collar and eventually the leash.
  • Here’s how to do that: With my client’s dog Paco, we began using the collar and the attached “dog tags” like a dinner bell. The tag jingle was a signal for “dinner time” for all the dogs.
  • Next we put Paco’s dog collar next to his food bowl when he ate. This then associated the collar with something very positive in Paco’s life – his food.

Let Your Fearful Dog Think It’s His Idea


Before starting to desensitize your dog to his collar, do these steps:

  • Buy a duplicate collar that is extra- large and open it up as big as you can.
  • Stick your hand holding a food treat and your arm through the collar so that the collar is up to your elbow.
  • Praise/treat your dog with the hand that’s in the collar.


dog behavior training by Jim Burwell

Helping a fearful dog get used to having a collar on

  • As the repetitions increase, gradually pull your food treat hand back until your dog is reaching through the extra-large collar on his own to get the treat.
dog behavior training Jim Burwell

Luring with a food treat

  • It’s always better if your dog puts his head through the collar for the treat because “he” wants to and not because it was your idea to put the collar on him. Making it his idea will keep him from kicking into defense mode and backing away. Be slow but sure.
dog behavior training Jim Burwell

On the dog’s timetable he will put head thru collar

  • At some point you will finally be able to finally slip the collar over your dog’s head and off again followed by praise and treat. Eventually you should be able to attach the leash to the extra-large collar, slip it over his head and leave it there for a few moments. Praise and treat him for being so brave.
  • Now it’s time to make the collar smaller repeating the process and eventually switch to his regular size collar.
  • By this time his collar should be his best friend. Everything positive is now associated with the collar and of course it was his idea all along, right?
  • Before you take your dog outside, I would suggest walking your dog inside the house on his new leash and collar rig. Praise and treat him for doing a great job.
  • Progress to the back yard next and when he is okay with leash and collar there move to the driveway. Use food treats in each location and practice sits, downs as you walk along.

Short video of the process in a client’s home:

Don’t Rush Your Dog’s Learning Process

Taking your time allowing your dog to work through his fear will be a huge part of your success in training your fraidy cat dog. Patience works miracles here.

If at any point you see hesitation on your dog’s part, go back a step and work at a more comfortable place for him.

This may mean that you extend your food treat hand farther through the collar to ease the anxiety about the big bad collar.
For some dogs this process can go fast but for others it just takes time. Be patient and enjoy being in the process with your dog. The end result will come when he is ready.

Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog


Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 30 years. Jim works with you and your entire family in helping your dog be the best dog ever.