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Tips for Training a Shy or Fearful Dog

Tell me, does this describe your dog?  He’s very attached to you, but is leery of strangers,  He may go as far as growling and snapping at unfamiliar people or dogs who get too close.  Friends say he’s a “one-person dog,” but actually he’s a shy or fearful dog.

It’s important to work on training shy dog before his behavior escalates to fear aggression in dogs.  This type of aggressive dog behavior is characterized at first by growling at people he doesn’t know, and can quickly progress to snapping and biting.

Why Is My Dog Shy?

Sometimes a dog is shy or fearful of strangers due to a bad experience somewhere along the line.  Some cases are due to genetics.  But most cases of shyness in dogs are caused by one thing; neglecting to socialize a puppy in his first few months of life.  It’s also very important not to stop socializing your dog too soon, as many dogs go through a shy period around six months of age.

Are You Teaching Your Dog To Be Shy?

Speaking softly and reassuringly to your fearful dog in an attempt to calm him down is a mistake.  First, you’re teaching him that if he hides, or growls, or even snaps at someone, he’ll be rewarded with your praise and attention. 

Second, listen to the sound of your voice when you’re reassuring your dog.  To your canine, it sounds like a dog’s whimper.  Your dog doesn’t understand your words, but he does understand the sound.  He thinks you’re whimpering at him, and it makes him even more anxious about the stranger.

Training Your Shy Dog

Socializing your dog when he’s a puppy is the best way to prevent your canine from becoming a shy dog.  He needs to be exposed to a wide variety of people, places, and dogs so that he can learn through experience that there’s nothing to be scared of.

If your canine friend is already a shy adult, it’s still possible to socialize your dog.  It takes longer, and you’ll need lots of patience, but  it can be done. 

The important thing to remember with training shy dog is not to rush him.  If you try to force him into socializing with unfamiliar people or dogs, all you’ll do is reinforce his belief that these things are scary.  Plus he may feel that he has no choice but to defend himself, which leads to aggressive dog behavior.

Never allow a stranger to come up to your dog and try to pet him.  Let your dog make the first move.  If he doesn’t want to, that’s fine.  If he’s hiding, don’t try to coax him out, as he’ll think you’re praising him for hiding out.

Ignore your dog when he acts shy or scared around strange people or dogs.  Keep him on his leash, and don’t let him get close enough to start displaying fear aggression in dogs.  Let him hang back and check out the situation from a distance.  When he’s ready, he’ll get closer on his own to the stranger.  This is when you praise him lavishly.

A Good Dog Training Course Can Work Wonders With A Shy Dog

You can see how easy it is to give your dog the wrong idea.  The fact is that dogs just don’t think like people do.  Understanding how your dog thinks is crucial to training shy dog properly. 

Investing in a good dog training course is essential.  You’ll want to find out what other dog owners who have used the course think of it.  Look for testimonials of how well the training worked for their dog. 

You’ll also want to look for a course than includes a free consultation with an experienced dog trainer.  This benefit alone may pay for the cost of the course. 

Believe me, once your start to apply this advice, your problem with your fearful dog will be solved.

Darlene Norris worked at a vet clinic and an animal shelter, and has had lots of experience with dogs. Visit her new website, No More Bad Dogs, for resources to help your fearful dog. Discover which dog training course she recommends at http://NoMoreBadDogs.com

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