We, as humans, understand how socializing works. That’s how we build relationships. But dogs are not wary about how socializing works. For instance, in an imaginary world, it is a real treat for dog lovers to watch dogs confidently having a good rapport with other dogs, playing with people he meets and having a ball. However, the truth hits hard. Ask few canine owners and you will get to know the reality.
Think like a dog
If you want to see from your pet’s perspective, you ought to think like a dog. If you have adopted a dog, they might have have been prone to being mistreated or abused. This is one of the common causes and reason why your dog is afraid to socialize. Even dogs are put in a confined area lack the opportunity of meeting people making them unaware of socializing.
Dogs tend to look up to their owners. They see them as an ‘alpha-dog’ i.e. the leader of their pack who will guide them safely. Hence it is crucial that you ingest the essence of associating with other dogs or people right from their early age. If you are not the right leader, your dog may lack the necessary confidence. The result – he will become shy and timid when introduced to new people or atmosphere outside their comfort zone.
Signs of a shy dog
If you or your friends own a pet who shys from you, don’t take it personally. It is just their nature. However there are ways to approach them. While some signs are quite obvious, some are hard to detect. Here is what you have to look for.
- Retreating to another room or a corner
- Ears folded flat against their head
- Tails tucked in between the legs
- Refusal to make eye contact
- Inappropriate urination
- Visible and quick panting
How can you help?
Just like your own baby, your dog too needs patience and attention. Its not a one day job so be prepared for lot of tantrums and grabbing tails.
First month is always the worst: You have to spend time with your dog to make him socialize at during the initial month. You are forming a base here. So every second is worth a great impact. Besides it is great fun and a time to bond. It will also help in “getting to know” your pet.
Let him be brave: Its officially night time. A thunder strikes. Your six year old runs in your bedroom all scared and wakes you up. You soothe her and calm her down. In the adjacent room lies your pet. You reach out to the poor puppy who is wimping and shivering on the same sound. “Its ok, baby”. As a human we tend to feel sympathy. But on the contrary, the dog feels you are encouraging his fear. This will push him further to getting afraid. Only praise the dog when he is confident.
Re-view the Training: If your dog follows commands, you have trained him well. The dog is confident enough to understand your language. Now its time to review the training. Use dog’s leash and take him outside. Practice basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘come’, etc. Always praise him when he displays confident behavior.
People therapy: Call your dog loving friend and ask her to sit with her back to your pet. Now place treats on her hands. Tell her not to talk or make eye contact with your dog. Praise the dog when he takes a treat.
Yawning: Unlike a sign for tiredness or disinterest, yawning is actually a sign of calm in dogs. Once again, have your friend hold treats looking at the ground. Tell her not to look at the dog. Here is another funny and silly thing you can do. Yawn to encourage your dog. In fact, ask your friend to join in as well. The more you guys yawn, you will find your dog relaxing as well. Do not forget to give him a treat.
Set the boundaries: One of the best ways to build a bond with your dog is by respecting his privacy. When your friends come over, tell them to stand still with a treat in their hands. Let your pet walk up to them first. Before this experiment, tell your friends before hand to strictly to pet the dog only under the chin and on the chest. This is to prevent them lunging towards his head or back. It may not end very well for them.
My kind of gang: Few dogs may find it difficult to trust people. At such situations, ask your neighbor or your friend to bring in their dog to bond a friendship between the two. In a closed fence, allow the dog to play freely with his new companion.
Introducing to new dogs: If your pet has not been exposed to his fellow companions, its obvious he might be feeling awkward during the initial stage. In fact aggression is a common sign due to lack of contact. To rectify this, you can start with dogs you know are quite comfortable and trustworthy. If your dog behaves politely with his friend, reward him before other dog. Gradually reward the dog for his closeness with other dog each and every time.
Obedience training classes: There are many obedience classes that provide ample opportunity for your pet. They have tricks up their sleeves that will help the pets to socialize in a more controlled setting. The results are amazing and chances are your dog will be able to behave in a better way.
Still if you think the problem persists, you might want to consider help of a professional dog trainer who specializes in shy dogs. Ask your vet for more recommendations.