One of the most disheartening things to see is a dog that is overly shy. It can cause discomfort for your dog and can become a real drag when you want to include your dog in certain activities. Here are seven tips for helping your shy dog.
1. Don’t try to shield him/her. If your dog senses that you are nervous for them, then they will mirror that nervousness. Instead, lead boldly. Your dog will sense that you are being a powerful leader and that you sense no fear in the situation. If you sense no fear, your dog will trust that observation.
2. Don’t “baby talk” to your dog. If you reassure your dog that the situation is okay by baby talking to your dog, you are actually telling him/her that it is good to be afraid in the situation. This is never good for dogs that are already dealing with shyness.
3. Be careful with your movements and eye contact. You must remember that dogs communicate largely on body language, movements, and eye contact. If you hover over your dog, or stare him/her down, this will only cause your dog to become more afraid.
4. Encourage your dog to leave his/her comfort zone. Don’t push your dog straight out into the world, but slowly introduce him/her to new people, animals, dogs, and even new places. If your dog feels that you are confident in the new experiences, they will also become more confident in themselves.
5. Exercise. Exercising is a great way for your dog to bond with you. Going for a jog can be a great bonding experience, as well as an opportunity to get your dog to follow your lead into new, uncharted territory.
6. Less is more. If you set rules and restrictions for your dog, he/she will actually feel more secure than if you simply allow them to do whatever they feel. Never physically/harshly punish a dog that is already shy. Instead, a quick “no” or hand gesture will generally work for a dog that is already super alert.
7. Reward him/her for good behavior. If your dog goes into a new situation and is relaxed and calm, give them a treat. If you can give your dog a chewy treat, such as a bone, it is likely that your dog will become even more relaxed in its new setting.