Shy Dogs

There are many stressors in the world — both in and outside the home — that can affect dogs, particularly those with shy personalities. One of the biggest stressors for shy dogs are dog lovers Let me explain. Dog lovers, as the name implies, love dogs. They love to pet them, play with them, talk to them and often pick them up. They frequently move towards dogs they wish to greet quickly and directly. In the dog world this is often considered somewhat rude. A polite greeting is actually nose to butt with a bit of circling going on. When a dog lover meets a shy dog for the first time and moves in for a face to face greeting, often leaning over the dog in the process, a shy dog can experience anything from extreme discomfort to outright terror.

The solution to this problem is quite simple. When meeting a new dog, ask the owner if the dog likes strangers. Then, slow down your approach, kneel or squat next to the dog with two or three feet between the two of you and turn your body and face away at a 90-degree angle. If the dog does not move away, stretch your hand out toward the dog and let him or her sniff it. If you have a treat in your hand that’s even better. Once the dog sniffs your hand slowly pivot toward the dog, avoiding eye contact and still in a crouched position, and extend your hand for an initial brief scratch under the chin. The dog at this point can either invite more attention or retreat. Either way you will have turned a potentially stressful interaction into one that leaves the dog calm and in control.