A puppy that’s not encouraged to build self-confidence can become an overly shy dog. It’s during a puppy’s socialization period that his confidence is instilled. Some breeds tend to be more timid than others, however, shyness can become a serious behavior problem with any dog that’s not properly socialized. Shy dogs tend to be afraid of everything from people and strange objects to loud noises. You can’t force a dog to be brave; you can only encourage him through praise and leadership.
Below is a list of common problems a shy dog may have and their solutions.
Fear of people
It’s not always clear why a shy dog is afraid of some people and not others. Use the following technique to help your dog overcome his fear of people.
Invite a friend over
Your dog will find it more comfortable to approach a person in his own environment, so plan to have a friend or family member come to your house. Let this person know your intentions before you get together and have them completely ignore your dog when they arrive. Be sure they know not to make eye contact with him.
Let your dog investigate the person at his own pace
Keep the conversation with your guest upbeat to show your dog everything is okay. Let him come out when he’s ready.
If necessary, use treats to lure your dog out of hiding
Your dog may be curious, yet too shy to approach. If this is the case, toss a treat towards him to distract him from his nervousness. Then ignore your dog and allow him to get the treat when he’s ready. Once he takes the treat, drop another one closer to you and your guest. Repeat this until your dog is comfortable next to the person.
Have your friend pet your dog
The person can reach under and stroke your dog’s chest when he’s close enough, but don’t reach over the dog’s head. It may only frighten a shy dog more. If your dog is uncomfortable and hesitates to come near your guest, don’t force the situation. Ask the person to come by another time to try again.
Practice this method with different people as often as possible until your dog becomes comfortable with them.
Fear of strange objects
Dogs can be afraid of the strangest things like an empty box or a full garbage bag that’s ready to go to the curb. To see your dog afraid of ordinary items always brings a good laugh and that’s exactly what you need to do to solve the problem.
Laugh out loud and invite your dog to investigate
Investigate the scary object for your dog while you’re laughing. Squat down next to it and in an excited voice say “what is this?”. Call your dog to help you. Stay enthusiastic and have as much fun as possible.
Once your shy dog sniffs around he’ll walk tall and feel proud that he solved the mystery.
Shy dogs and loud noises
Everything from thunder to a passing truck can scare a timid dog. Because loud noises can occur at any moment, they can be a serious problem. A good approach to help your dog get over his fear of noises is to play noise games. There are countless noises you can make to ease your dog’s fear. Below are two examples to get you started.
Metal Spoon Game
Mix up your dog’s food in a stainless steel dog bowl with a metal spoon. Make as much noise as you can. Get excited and let him know how good it’s going to taste. Then set the bowl down and let him eat out of it.
Go into another room where your dog isn’t playing and drop a pan. Begin to laugh and call your dog into the room to examine what’s going on. If he comes, give him a treat and praise him for being so brave. Once your shy dog gets used to loud noise, you can drop the pan closer to him. You’ll know how close you can get by how fast he recovers. If he’s scared for more than a few seconds you are too close.
All dogs are usually afraid of something, but not all dogs are born brave. If you take the time to help your shy dog understand his fears, you’ll have a well-rounded companion that’s ready to take on anything.