Shy dogs aren’t isolated to one particular breed. Every breed has one. What causes this? One common reason has to do with a dog’s past. Some dogs have experienced abuse or trauma from previous owners or past experiences.  It’s important to recognize this before moving forward to help a shy dog.

Their fear of people

You must first recognize through observation when your dog becomes shy and to whom. It’s easy to think these occurrences are random but it’s not. Observe and try to make a list regarding which situation and who is around when your dog acts shy.

With this information at hand, you can now make efforts to control your environment for your dog to be more comfortable. But this is just the first step and not the entire solution. Eventually, you’ll have to slowly expose your dog, slowly, to those that trigger the fear.


Managing a dog’s environment

When we talk about environmental management for dogs, this includes preemptive measures like avoiding overcrowded areas, using a leash or crate to control who your dog interacts with. It’s also important to note that you can step in when a stranger approaches your dog and kindly inform them of your dog’s problem.

Once you master this step, your dog will become more at ease and you’ll be ready to take the next steps.

Confidence training

Confidence training goes beyond teaching your dog basic tricks. Although this help as well. But the underlying reason you are doing this is to boost their confidence.

For specific training you can use to elevate their confidence, you can try some of the following.

  • Using polite language when interacting with your dog. Give polite commands, use positive reinforcements. These build a dog’s comfort and confidence.
  • Keep rewarding them for positive behavior. Make sure you notice little changes in social skills, for example, if they interact with a stranger in a friendly manner, reward them for it.
  • Have an anchoring command. Sometimes it’s called a default behavior. It can be as simple as telling your dog to watch you or to keep their eyes towards something or you.

Perspective change for a dog

The process is similar to treating other fears for humans. There is a certain level of exposure to the fear needed in order for them to overcome it. For example, letting them subtly interact with a stranger but not in a way where there is obvious agitation. This process is slow and may take time.

This is called desensitization and counter-conditioning, it’s a way for your dogs to slowly adapt and remove their fears and anxiety.  This is a very crucial process because you cannot keep your dog away from outside stimulus forever. Eventually, they will be exposed to things that might trigger their fear. So it’s important to understand this process.

Remember patience and pacing

It’s important to remember that you should never rush your dog in the process.  It’s counterintuitive to force your dog to be comfortable because it might result in the opposite. Be patient, as it’s eventually going to happen with the right pacing.

Shy dogs are troubled it’s the owner’s responsibility to help them become more confident. In the end, it will benefit both owner and pet.



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