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fear free dog goals

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by Agnes Durbet

The Fearful Dogs Project is devoted to improving the world of and for fearful dogs, including feral/feralized, traumatized, and other marginalized and disadvantaged dogs, by guiding people through best practices for working and living with these often misunderstood animals. The Fearful Dogs Project helps canines and the humans who care for them move beyond fear so that they may enjoy their lives together with as little distress and as much joy as possible.

The canine fear abatement and prevention programs that other organizations large and small attempt to emulate (but cannot),  The Fearful Dogs Project has been seeing scared, distressed, and traumatized dogs through to recovery unofficially since 2007 and officially since 2014. Puppy mill survivors, feralized dogs, international hunting-tool dogs (podencos, galgos, Hawaiian hunting dogs, etc.) who lived chained to each other in small, dark, bunkers, physically and emotionally abused dogs, and many others have found hope, protection, and eventual joy via TFDP and its programs. We invite pet parents, shelters, rescues, trainers, behavior professionals, vet staff, animal welfare organizations, law enforcement, and any others who find themselves living with or working around scared or otherwise marginalized dogs, to join us. Whether by supporting, learning with, or hiring The Fearful Dogs Project, you’ll get the help you need to move you from general knowledge to specific, transformational outcomes.

Join the Next Wave of Humane Heroes.
Core Values

Photo editing

by Agnes Durbet






Join the Next Wave of Humane Heroes.

Photo editing

by Agnes Durbet


Fear is an opportunity for learning and growth.

Fear does not necessitate loss.

Our ultimate vision is to encourage, person by person, a knowledgable, skilled, & devoted population of individuals ready & willing to ensure the world feels safe and is safe for fearful, traumatized, and feralized dogs, a world where people want to help and protect rather than remove them.

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The Fearful Dogs Project is directed by its creator, Rain Jordan. Specializing in feralized, traumatized, and other fearful and anxious dogs, Ms. Jordan is a Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) via the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), a  Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP), a graduate of Behavior+ Works' Animal Behavior program (LLA), and a professional member (canine behavior/training) of the Pet Professional Guild. She also runs Canine Fear Solutions. On that page you can view a brief  example of one of the protocols she developed for The Fearful Dogs Project. 


Ms. Jordan wrote the first ever essay on "learned helplessness" in racing industry greyhounds; this seminal work appeared in a 3 part series in The Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds magazine. Although Seligman's original idea of helplessness being "learned" has more recently been revised, what's most important isn't whether it's a learned or default state, but rather, how to avoid activating it. Jordan also writes a twice monthly canine behavior newspaper column and articles for other publications. In addition to running her private behavior practice, she also develops animal welfare programs for shelters, rescues, and companion animals and their humans. The Fearful Dogs Project was one of the earliest of these programs. Ms. Jordan holds a terminal degree (M.F.A.) and has more than 15 years experience teaching adults, including teaching in California colleges. She is the author of several books, including  Such Small Hands: An Anti-Aversives Primer and The Dog Who Couldn't Be Petted

Maddie's Fund Grant Thank You

Developmental stages and Phase 1 of The Fearful Dogs Project were a result of support from the founder and a few private donors. The Fearful Dogs Project, Phase 2, a sheltered dogs program run in the Pacific Northwest, was supported by a research grant from Maddie's Fund and evidenced consistent efficacy in all participants.  We seek funding for Phase 3 and invite interested shelters or other animal welfare organizations to chat with us about possible collaboration. In addition, we currently seek funding of much-needed scholarships, so please contact us if you might like to help, or visit our How You Can Help page. Until then, fees from the programs, along with support from the founder, are the main source for funding our work.

Join the Next Wave of Humane Heroes.
Position Statement

     Anti-Aversives:  In addition to possessing the necessary expertise (including depth and breadth of experience, study, and credentials), an anti-aversives animal behavior & training professional is a professional who provides their services 1) refusing to use pain, force, intimidation, or fear to rehabilitate / behavior modify / train. This means the professional will not use, recommend, or condone aversive equipment or methods  such as shock collars (aka e-collars, stimulation units, remote collars, remote communication devices, ultrasonic devices, etc.), anti-bark devices, prong collars, choke collars or other equipment designed to choke, corporal punishment or other corrections, shake cans or other startle equipment, squirting, leash popping, collar dragging, scolding, yelling, etc., AND who 2) believes they must do everything possible to avoid aversive experiences, including inadvertent aversives, for your dog, WHILE 3) helping you to achieve an anti-aversives lifestyle for your dog. 

     An anti-aversives professional is committed to an approach that is positive while avoiding aversives and coercives, however subtle. A  "balanced" (indicates aversives are used), "pack leader," or "dominance" type system is not anti-aversives.  While some in those categories argue the need for "consequences," The consequences an anti-aversives professional provides are keeping the dog safe, protected, and happy, helping the animal feel safe and protected, and providing positive, pleasant (to the animal) conditioning since this is what evidence-based research and practice have shown will continue to improve behavior and well-being.  An expert behavior & training professional understands that, especially for traumatized, anxious, and fearful dogs,  consequences do not need to be aversive, nor should they be, and such a behavior & training professional does not need or choose to implement aversive consequences in order to help an animal.

    While it is impossible to literally be a "fear free" professional--since fear is at least largely an emotion, and emotions of others are not within your absolute control--The Fearful Dogs Project believes finds that many practices  commonly taught and accepted elsewhere are not actually "fear free" practices. For example, restraining an animal rather than implementing cooperative care and handling will almost always result in fear for the animal, since to restrain is to force, and being forced, especially physically, tends to be scary. Therefore, except in the case of  'life and limb' emergencies, even small aversives such as restraint are best avoided.  There are other examples; if you'd like to learn more, contact us, and consider our one of our programs. 

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