As you are all aware, I have three Dogs but the shy Dog training only applies to one of them.
Their personalities could not be more different.
Faye is always confident, full of life, bossy, loud, big and bolshy.
Jet, the puppy of Daisy, takes quite a bit after her Mum. She is still young and fairly shy but is much more timid than Faye. Jet has many of the characteristics of Daisy. Much more eager to please (if she feels confident enough) and no where near as naughty!
Daisy, our shy Dog, came from the pound almost a year and a half ago. She was about four or five months old and a complete nervous wreck. To say she was shy would be a complete understatement. She was terrified, scared and totally submissive.
For about a month after we first rescued her from whatever horrible things she had gone through she would never walk in front of us on walks. She didn’t need a leash. She was so submissive she would walk behind us and NEVER leave our side. It was heartbreaking to see her so un-confident.
Daisy would cower if you went to stroke her and normally wet herself. If there were raised voices she would try to hide. She always has been, and I think always will be, to some extent, a very serious Dog.
There is no chasing sticks and no playing fetch for Daisy. She simply is not interested. A lot of the times she seems to take life very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, she is happy now. She simply has a different outlook on life to a more boisterous Dog.
When Daisy is playing with the other two Dogs, on a walk, or having a fuss, you can actually see her smiling. Don’t laugh, I am sure of it.
It took Daisy months and months before she would raise her tail from between her legs. It was always down in a submissive and scared state. Now her Tail curls up in a confident manner. It is so nice to see her gradually become more confident and sociable. I am not saying she is still not shy. She dislikes a change to her routine and is wary of new people. Although for the first time the other day, she licked someones face that she did not really know very well. It may not sound like much but for her it is a supreme act of confidence. She was very pleased with herself as well.
If you are still reading then I guess you have a similar problem with a shy Dog and would like to know how to go about rehabilitating and training a shy dog.
Training A Shy Dog
I will say this first. If you have a very shy, nervous Dog, never expect it to turn in to a super confident, care free Dog. It is very unlikely it will ever happen. As with Humans, Dogs all have personalities and are very different in their natures.
We have come a long way with Daisy and I am pleased that she can now enjoy what the world has to offer a Doggie. I never expect her to be like Faye though. They are like Chalk and Cheese.
There are quite a few things you can do to bring your Dog out of its shell and gain confidence. The following is by no means a comprehensive list, it is merely what we did to help Daisy along the road to confidence.
Be patient. Shy Dog behaviour will not go away overnight. You must understand that your Dog may be very scared of almost everything. Take it slowly and be understanding.
No sudden movements. Your shy Dog will be on edge, don’t make her even more jumpy. Be constantly aware of how you are acting.
No shouting. Make a conscious effort to control your noise levels. You want to create a soothing, calm environment as soon as possible. A calm peaceful household at first will ease your shy Dog in to her new home.
Praise her whenever you can. If you see a glimmer of a lifted tail or signs of playfulness, praise her and let her know she is doing the right thing.
Do not attempt to always get close to your shy Dog. You should build up slowly the amount of interaction you have with a shy and nervous Dog. Trying to pet a shy Dog too much at first will only make it more scared. Take it slowly.
When we first used to pat Daisy, she would put her head down and look worried. It was all too much for her. It has taken over a year for her to love it. Now, if you stop rubbing her ears or patting her on the head, she will nuzzle in and lift your hand with her head so she gets more fuss.
Do not tell her off. A properly shy Dog is not going to be naughty on purpose. Any accidents in the house etc will be from nerves or simply not being housetrained. Shouting and telling off will get you nowhere but backwards. Proper discipline can wait until your Dog has more confidence and is settled.
Absolutely NEVER smack, Alpha Roll or use any kind of aggressive punishment. You could ruin your Dog for life! Techniques such as Alpha Rolling are for confident Dogs only.
Slowly, and I mean very slowly get your shy Dog used to other Dogs and people. For Daisy, other Dogs, once she got to know them, were not a problem. Some she would play with, but overtly boisterous Dogs, such as a British Bulldog a friend of ours has, was, and still is a bit of an issue. She still goes super submissive, lies down and opens her legs to submit to being dominated. Nothing to be overly concerned about because for the most part she now plays well with other Dogs.
When first getting a shy Dog used to other people, keep her on the lead. Shy and nervous Dogs may actually go to bite someone who is scaring them too much. Daisy has never exhibited this trait but it is a possibility in nervous animals.
When introducing her to new people we did it from a distance. Once we had got her leash trained, which took some time, we would go to cafes and sit outside with her. She could observe the world and see what was happening. It took months, and for a long time, if someone came to talk and patted her head, she would cower and pee herself. Life was just to scary for her.
Little by little, and one small step at a time is the way with nervous Dogs.
Don’t expect miracles straight away. It has taken us nearly a year and a half to get Daisy to a stage where she has much more confidence. She can meet new people, likes attention, loves to run around liek a loon, chasing and stalking the other Dogs.
She still won’t chase for a stick though!
If you have a shy Dog and want to ask any questions I will be happy to respond in the comments section below. I have just realised this post is already nearly 1200 words long.
The main thing is to take it slowly, calmly and be very patient. You will both get there eventually.
Look to the future and don’t dwell on how sad your Dog seems now. Think how great it will be to see that tail held high and a dignified look of contentment on your Noble friends face! Maybe shy Dog training will then be a thing of the past.