Last updated: Feb. 16 2018 2 min read
Are you the proud owner of an extremely shy puppy? This fear-based behavioral characteristic is very common if you have a toy dog breed. However, it’s a known fact that every litter will have a least one shy puppy that will need to be treated a little differently than the rest of the pups.
When these shy puppies grow up they can become extremely needy and look towards their owners for reinforcement in almost every situation they come across. And unfortunately, while this need to ‘run to mommy or daddy’ every time she gets scared, your dog may start to initiate aggression if she is not getting the soothing attention needed. This could be labeled as aggression induced by fear.
Ironically enough, if you constantly caress and soothe your puppy when she demonstrates extreme shyness and becomes frightened, you are only reinforcing the behavior. I realize that it’s hard to imagine ignoring your shy and scared puppy when she needs you, but if you would like to change her behavior and help the dog become a bold and social animal, you are going to have to quit letting her know that it is ‘okay’ to be afraid.
Helping Your Shy Puppy Change
If your dog is showing signs of fear and timidness early on, then you will have to be patient when desiring to help her adjust. You must coax the dog along to realizing that you will not be her protector anymore. Behaviors that she is used to doing when getting scared will need to be stopped, such as barking while hiding behind your legs when startled, darting away whenever seeing a normal part of the outside, like a person walking or a bush swaying by the wind, etc.
Here are some tips that you can use to help your puppy become less shy:
1. Explain to your family and friends to ignore your puppy’s fear-induced barking or crying whenever they approach. Up to this point your dog has acted out of fear whenever someone approaches and when these people naturally stop the approach, your dog has learned that this behavior works in her favor. However, from now on your dog will start to understand that fear-induced barking will not work anymore so long as your friends and family respect your training wishes.
2. Whenever you are expecting guests to arrive at the house, be sure to keep your puppy secured by a lead. Take her with you as you approach the guests if you can allow the dog to be with you all times. The difference from now on is that when she starts crying, barking, or hiding behind your legs, you will now act in a confident matter and without petting or soothing her. This will help your dog become more brave while teaching her that her old behavior will not work anymore.