Nervous dog

A friend is keen to join THS but is wondering how it would work with a nervous dog ( shepherd) who takes a while to get used to strangers. She has another very friendly shepherd.

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Welcome @Vivvy!

Your friend should be upfront about her nervous dog and its requirements in her listing and may also stipulate that previous experience with nervous dogs are required.

Once they are reviewing applications, they can hopefully find sitters who they connect with and can discuss the dog and can get a good feel if the sitter’s personality will suit the dog. If appropriate, the sitters might even suggest a meetup before the sit so that they can introduce themselves to the dogs and pet parents.


Hi @Vivvy - we just did a three week sit in Thailand with 3 dogs, one of which wouldn’t come near us (or any strangers) for her first 24 hours. We let her be, learnt the ropes of the sit with the owners, hung out with the other two and a day later and she’s on our laps :heart_eyes:. Just need the right sitters for the shy pup and your friend will be fine. Having good handover time is key and hosting the sitter the night before always helps attract people with patience & commitment. Hope that helps.

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We had 4 separate sits with nervous anxious animals.

  1. Cat- ignored us the whole time and wouldn’t come near us so we just set out food and water
  2. Cat- Avoided us for 1 full afternoon but by evening let me pet her and then she wanted to be petted all the time.
  3. Cat-Hid from us all day but by evening she came out and decided we were safe to be around. She wanted to sleep in the bed so I kicked my husband out to sleep in the guest bedroom with our son
  4. Dog- nervous around us for just a little while and then she went room to room looking to see who was available to give her massages or take her walking

With all of them, I just hung around at a distance until they felt safe and wait until they made the decision to come to me.


Yup. I never force animals. I let them interact on their own terms.

One dog ran away from me on the first day and I had to lure her into the laundry room with food so I could leash her for a poop walk. By the next day, she was all over me, licking me and bouncing around, trying to get me to play while I was zooming for work.

At another sit, a cat eyed me suspiciously and I repeatedly said, good girl, (her name), in a calm voice and never approached her. By morning, she was curled up against my leg as I slept. Good thing I didn’t unknowingly roll over on her.

Both of those furry friends were super sweet and I’d love to see them again.


Depends what they are nervous of. If it is strangers, a lot of dog-sitters will be familiar with nervous dogs (we’ve known plenty). The important thing is to let the dog come around in their own time. It may also help if they choose someone who could potentially visit to their home prior to sitting, so the dog is a little more used to them already. Also, once an owner isn’t around, dogs become very receptive to whoever feeds them and takes them for a walk (if they enjoy a walk that is), and hopefully some strokes will naturally follow.


We’re currently on a sit with a particularly nervous dog. The HO let us know up front what to expect and we spent a couple days ahead of the sit to get to know them. 2 weeks in, she is still nervous of us but in the same way she was with the HO. She won’t let us approach her without running away and is very reluctant to come when it’s time for a walk. Interestingly, once we begin the walk, she’s much calmer.

We continue to work with her and she is slowly getting more comfortable with us. I don’t think she’ll ever be sitting in our laps but we like to see her continued in our improvement in comfort.

The key is to make sure to explain the situation fully and clearly so that only sitters that are comfortable will apply. The only hesitation I would have is if a nervous dog manifests the nervousness through aggression.

Dan and Nan


Thank you all. I will pass onto my friend. Im sure she’ll join now with all this positive info

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I’m a new THS/HO here and haven’t yet had a sitter, but I do have a nervous Golden and a rescue (Tripod) 10 month kitten who is very skittish around new people.

My dog has a little bit of Separation Anxiety- but loves all people. She’s easy to figure out.

But what I have found with both of them……treats are everything. And even with the kitty, if a new person comes in, and their energy is calm, and they talk to him and associate treats with his name, soon they will be good friends.

I hope this helps with your friends dog.


Sounds like you’ve got it wired! I like your style!