Timid, Shy or Scared to Death - Does that Describe Your Dog?

Gram and I decided that since summertime seems to be a time when people are thinking of adopting a puppy/dog that we might touch upon the subject of timid and shy puppies/dogs. Every once in a while you will come upon such a dog and it is important to know how to handle the situation or what may cause it.

What causes a puppy/dog to show signs of timidity, shyness or just being scared to death?

In some it can be a genetic trait, with a purebred dog you generally know the genetic traits in its family background, as the breeder should have documented records of the family background.

When adopting a shelter dog, a stray or a dog from your friendly neighbor and the history is not known, you may have to cross your fingers on the genetic breeding that the dog has. Generally speaking if you start the puppy off on the right foot and/or you adopt an older dog and you take an active role by implementing a super-socialization program, your problems should be few. The end result will be happy, healthy and self-confident dogs that will behave very well around people (familiar ones and strangers.)

One of the most important things you can do when you get a new puppy is socialize the dog. Puppies need to be exposed to as many different kinds of people that you can find, along with many different life situations.

That is to say, situations that are not scary or associated with loud noises, and extreme visual stimulation (like fireworks.) These experiences can be extremely frightening and create painful memories in a puppy’s mind.

Exposure to children can to frightening to a puppy, as children tend to be loud, noisy and move very fast. To create a positive experience have the child and/or children sit quietly and feed the puppy tasty treats. Always supervise children when around a puppy, as puppies are fragile and children do not always realize that.

Make going to the vet a good experience, this is a time when good treats like pieces of cooked chicken come in handy. A treat of this nature can be fed while in the waiting room, while getting its shots and during the poking and prodding time. It is especially good if the vet and assistants offer treats to the dog.

Even if your puppy/dog is naturally confident, it will still need to be socialized in order to become a well-adjusted adult dog.

I have neighbors that got a puppy almost a year ago. The most adorable creature you ever saw as it is part toy poodle and part Yorkshire terrier, all black and really precious. I advised them right from the beginning to bring the dog out and socialize it, they did not heed the advice and the end result is we (the neighbors) terrorize the wonderful little dog with our presence, when talking to them outside.

If your dog is genetically timid or shy it will need tons of socialization to become a normal dog. Think of it as training your dog’s emotions, which is much more important than the behavior training at this point.

Fearfulness in a dog can actually lead to aggression because a dog that is timid and fearful is suffering from a lot of stress. Stress in a dog leads to acts of aggression such as biting; growling and snapping especially if the dog feels cornered.

The secret here is to keep a pocketful of treats with you at all times during this social training period. If you see your dog reacting to a situation that appears scary to it, offer treats while the experience is going on such as a motorcycle, a baby in a carriage or stroller, a horse, the vacuum cleaner. This way your dog associates the experience with something good, you stop the treats when the scary thing has passed.

If you see your puppy or dog becoming increasingly fearful or starts to get aggressive it is important that you contact a qualified behavior professional as you will need help in developing a program that will eliminate this behavior.

Many people do not realize the importance of a dog’s emotional stability, in fact many people do not think that dogs in general feel emotions or suffer with stress anxiety.

Believe it or not, most behavior problems can be related to stress and anxiety, once you find what the problem is and begin a modification program to help cure the cause of the stress or anxiety, you will have the best-behaved dog on the block.

As a pet parent you are aware of your dog’s behavior toward certain things or situations and maybe you think it is funny that your dog acts the way it does. But, it is not funny to the dog, it is scary and fearful and just with a little effort on your part you can reduce the stress and the fear and bring peace

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