Shy Dog Question

Problem (Shy Dog) :

I hope you can help us. We own a 7 month old beagle/mix named Zoey. She is scared of every one! Guest will visit us, and Zoey will be hiding upstairs. When we are on walks she is a little better, but Zoey still barks a lot at strangers trying to pet her. She will only let me or my husband pet her. We would like her to be more social. Is there anything we can do to help her? Thanks.

Solution Ideas:

Answer
Living with a scared dog can be challenging for the entire family. Non confident canines require gentle schooling, and patience from their owners. Consider these training ideas to help your nervous canine.

Obedience training is mandatory for the shy dog. A dog working commands is a confident dog. Training should be on the leash and outside of the house. Practice come, sit, down and walking exercises. Use ‘super praise’ when she exhibits any confident behavior. This training helps you and your dog communicate better, and will improve your over all relationship. The family dog must have a solid obedience training foundation in order to become a confident, well behaved canine.

People therapy. Start with someone sitting outside with their back to Zoey. Place food treats in their outstretched hands. Instruct them not to make eye contact with Zoey or speak. Praise her when she takes the treat. Have the person slowly move inside the house, when you think Zoey is ready. This person must only pet her under the chin and on the chest, a pat on the head will send her running! People therapy must be done regularly to help Zoey overcome her shyness and gain trust in human beings.

Protect dog’s private areas. Do not allow guest to enter these areas until Zoey has meet them outside with food treats. Ask friends to pet her under the chin and on the chest. She will accept praise from strangers better this way. Avoid letting anyone reach or lunge to pet her. Have them stand still and let Zoey go over to them first.

Do not pet or praise your dog when she is scared and say “It’s OK”. Your canine will assume you are praising them for being scared. You should act happy and confident in these situations. Praise reinforces your canine’s behavior, what ever it is.

Yawn. Yawning is a calming signal for dogs. Practice yawning with your guest for several minutes. You will notice your canine relaxing the more you yawn. Have your guest sit in the floor and yawn. They should not make eye contact with Zoey. Use plenty of food treats during exercises.

Exercise your dog! Free play with another canine is a great way to open up a shy dog. Dog’s who do not trust people, need other dogs as companions. Allow the dogs to romp around in a fenced area. Have the owner of the other dog pet Zoey if possible. Let the dogs tire out before going home. Free play may be the best therapy for the shy dog.

Most shy dogs can become friendly with positive dog/human interaction. The dog must learn to trust the individual before accepting a friendship. Use food along the way and don’t allow people to threaten your canine. Let your dog set the pace of training and do not over stimulate! Let her decide how close she will get to someone. Remember to praise your dog when she exhibits any confident behavior. Exercise is also a key ingredient for successful training and overall behavior.
Good Luck!