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Helping a Dog Overcome Fear

By Robin Tierney

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When Candy Hamner adopted her dog Roxxy from PAW, the change in environment was frightening for Roxxy. To help get the dog past her fear, her trainer taught Candy the commands, "knock it off" and "keep going."

On walks outdoors, Roxxy was afraid of large trash cans, stacked boxes, trash bags left for the trash collectors. Nervously, she tucked her tail between her legs, panic and run wildly front right to left, yanking the leash and ignoring Candy.

Trainer Janet Boss instructed Candy to say loudly, firmly and with conviction, "knock it off, Roxxy" while acting confident and calm as she pulled Roxxy to her and put the fearful dog in a sit-stay. After several repetitions, Roxxy calmed down. Next, Candy would take Roxxy back to a safe distance and say "keep going." Candy would hold the leash close as they walked by the items that Roxxy feared.

"I did not coddle Roxxy or say anything to reinforce her fears. I acted confidently and showed I was comfortable with the surroundings," Candy explained. "After several times doing this, she began to relax and curiosity took over."

Indoors, Candy has used the "knock if off" command when Roxxy reacts fearfully to the vacuum cleaner by lunging at it and barking wildly. "I use this technique whenever she panics, and it works within two to three times."

For more Dog Tips and other information about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport