Shy dogs need confidence and training designed for shy dogs. The training is directed at building their confidence. The first thing to remember is that our dogs understand our emotions. They sense our fears, worries, confidence and more. If you are relaxed and happy, they will feel more confident. If you are anxious and quiet, they become anxious and shyness will increase.
Rule One: Do not use the soothing voice with kind words of encouragement when your dog is shy. Consoling your dog only reinforces the shy behavior.
Rule Two: Be happy and relaxed when out and about. Be natural and confident that everything is fine.
Rule Three: Be in charge. The “alpha dog” is the leader, greets strangers and protects the pack.
You should be the “alpha” and your dog will look to you for guidance.
Training starts with the human gaining the respect and confidence of their dog, that the human is in charge and the decision-maker. This training begins at home. Who makes the rules, decides when it is time to eat and who can sleep where?
A quick test: When your dog is napping on their favorite bed or on your couch; ask them to move. Their response will tell you who is in charge.
Next is to take a beginning Obedience Class. Even if the shy dog can not do anything, the class will help you socialize your dog to other people and dogs. Use treats throughout the class to encourage your dog to think class is a good place. They will learn from class that the humans and dogs do not harm them or even threaten them and build confidence. Try to make the class a fun adventure. Repeat the class a second time.
Take a Walk
Take your dog everyway and anywhere. Start with a quick walk down a quiet street. Repeat the same walk frequently until they become confident that no harm will come to them. Gradually change the walk and introduce your dog to new places. Work up to a street with a few people. Ignore any nervousness and enjoy yourself.
This may take months for some dogs and do not expect immediate results.
Not all people need to greet and pet your dog. It is a success if your dog can sit or stand quietly at your side when a stranger approaches. Ask your friends to approach you without looking at your dog. Ask them to ignore your dog and repeat the exercise as often as possible. Praise and treat your dog with each success. If a friend wants to become friends with your dog, ask them to sit on the floor and give the person some small treats. Let your dog approach the person. Do not encourage them to pet your dog. Have the person make a small trail with the treats in front of the. Make it a game and fun. Repeat the exercise.
Often dogs from Shelters or who have changed owners and homes develop severe shyness. Their shyness may also have been aggravated by lack of exposure to new environments as a puppy. A confident dog with its human companion knows that humans are great, new environments are fun to explore and their human companion will take care of their every concern. Shelter dogs often take a long time before the come to the realization that they will not lose their home and human again, so they are nervous and shy.