View Full Version : Help! How to improve confidence

30th June 2008, 02:40 AM
We have a two and a few months old girl Cavalier. From early on she was a very shy puppy. We tried to socialize her and encourage her as much as she could, hoping that she would grow out of it, but she is still a scaredy-cat. Sometimes she seems to be afraid of everything. For example, she could be happily walking along with us on a trail, ignoring loud car noises from the road and large dog barking coming from a nearby doggie hotel, but she could be totally spooked by a random noise in the bushes and jump to the side with her tail between her legs. She gets spooked by people and other dogs coming to greet her unless they let her come to them instead. Thankfully she is totally fine with people and dogs who wait for her to initiate contact. Funny thing is, she really wants to say hello to everyone in her path (her tails is wagging and she signals that she wants to go over and say hello), but she is too afraid to do it when she gets close to them. Sometimes she seems to be afraid even of the dark. She is a little better when she plays fetch with her toy, in that case nothing else exists besides the toy (but that's another story) and she ignores the other dogs big or small. But even then, she can get spooked. Yesterday, I was playing fetch with her outside and she noticed a badger sitting quietly in the grass about 20-30 feet away. She immediately became very apprehensive and even though she didn't stop playing, every time she was returning with the ball, her tail was lower than usual and she would glance over her shoulder once or twice to check whether she is still safe.

I think our cavalier is generally a happy little girl, but I feel like she could be a little happier if she wasn't so afraid of everything. Does anyone have any advice on how to help her become a bit braver?

30th June 2008, 03:25 AM
Have you tried socialization classes? More and more experiences will help her get comfortable and, of course, never reinforcing her fears by cuddling by voice or physically.

30th June 2008, 10:42 AM
I'd highly recommend the shy dogs training manual that you can order from trainer Dee Ganley here: www.deesdogs.com. If you scroll about halfway down this page you'll see she also has a section called shy dogs with two articles that you can download.

Clicker training can be really good to do with shy dogs because you can so quickly click a confident behaviour.

30th June 2008, 09:32 PM
Thank you very much for the suggestions. Will definitely look into classes and books.

1st July 2008, 12:32 PM
Classes are an absolute must for a dog like this. Holly was exactly as you described when we first got her. She is 10 months old now, and although still shy, she is nothing like she was! We took her to puppy classes as soon as we got her, and attend dog school every week now. We also walk everyday with a group of other people and dogs from the dog school and this helps her a lot. We also rescued Murphy, another Cavalier about a month ago and she is a lot more confident now she has a 'big brother'. She plays with a lot more dogs, and goes over to people if she sees that Murphy has wandered over for a wee cuddle! :)

It takes a lot of time, but classes are a must imo!

9th July 2008, 08:16 PM
angel is similar she is fine with noises though stuff like that dont spook her but she gets nervous around bigger dogs and people. if they leave her alone she will jump all over them but if they approach her she cowars away and hides behind my leg. once or twice she got so scared by a big dog she has wet herself but they were big dogs and shes only a little baby poor thing. when she was a little pup we took her to puppy classes im considering going again but i would have to take both the youngest and it can be awkward atm bindi needs it more as shes only 10weeks old so she needs the socialisation she starts in 2 weeks im considering taking angel to the adult classes if they let bindi come to watch lol if not ill pay for both dogs and drag a friend along with me to socialise them both lol. wierd thing is it isnt all dogs and people and the majority of the time she is fine. she is very well socialised and loves nothing more than meeting people but strangers in the street creep her out a little. she loooves the train i think thats her fave place is sat on the train lol:rolleyes: