View Full Version : Overcoming shyness

27th November 2008, 09:56 PM
Hey, my Lizzie, now 14 weeks old, is quite shy. I believe she is just that way by nature. When I saw her at the breeders, she wanted to cuddle up close to my neck, and she really was ready to get down fairly quickly and go back over by the breeder. She would hang out near the breeders legs, and the breeder's family. I attributed it to all the goings on that day. There was a ball game on TV, and a couple other guests with passionate reactions to the game.
Lizzie took to my big dogs right away, and she loves my kids and likes kids who come over, but is nervous when we are away from home and she is meeting strangers. She is petrified of other dogs. She shakes and trys to climb into my arms at just the sight of them, even if they are paying no attention to her. She tries to hide her face. I don't reward this behavior by cooing over her or comforting her as if she has reason to be afraid. I try to just ignore that reaction, yet don't press her to get any closer. I reward and praise her when she is friendly and "brave".
She literally screamed and ran when she saw the life-sized german shepherd stuffed animal we have (that Bandit attacks in the video I posted a few weeks ago). She had a screaming reaction to another real shepherd that walked toward us in Petsmart about a week ago. I was holding her and the dog looked at and walked eagerly toward us, and she literally yelled like the devil had her by the tail.
She likes people and will greet them when they come to our house, but with her body crouched sort of submissively, and if we are not at home, she is nervous about others petting her. She looks at me and trys to turn closer into me and get closer into my arms. I thought at first she just needed time to adjust, but now I see that this is her nature. Meanwhile, Bandit is trying to say "hi" to everyone, man or beast. There isn't a shy bone in his body! Hopefully, he will rub off on her some.
I have been taking her as many places as I can (but nothing loud or scary) and I encourage others to pet her as long as she isn't afraid of them, so she can get used to others and see it as a positive experience. I have taken her to a friends house who has a sweet dachshund so she can meet other dogs that will be nice and won't intimidate her. That went okay, but she never opened up. She just wasn't AS shaky, and she did finally walk over to say "hi" to the dachshund's owner, then came right back to me. She only smelled the dog once from the safety of my lap.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'd like to help her take the world in stride, and I understand she may always be more reserved, but I know that there must be things we can do to minimize this behavior and build her confidence. We hope to be able to show her, but with her current shyness, I don't see how that can happen.

28th November 2008, 03:02 AM
Mika has the shyness as well, although just with other dogs. She loves to meet new people and cats. It scared the crap out of me and everyone around when she let out her first scream in reaction to meeting a new dog. Now I realize it is just her and take it in stride, but it sure scares others.

At puppy kindergarten, she spent most of it hiding behind the chairs, when we weren't directly working with her. Since that time, she has taken regular obedience and about 5 different agility classes. She is a different dog! While her tail is still often tucked, she no longer hides behind chairs, and will begin the class by going to greet each dog (and then stands there cowering with her tail tucked while they sniff her, but at least she's making the effort).

The only time she screams now is if a new dog approaches her rapidly (which can scare me at times as well, so I don't really blame her).

While she is a social butterfly with people, I think she will always be shy around other dogs. I have no idea why, since she has been well socialized, she is just weary to be around them. The only dog she has absolutely no problem with is my friend's cocker. This was the first non-litter dog she met (the first day we brought her home), and this is where she stays when I have to go away. She has never been timid with Henry. Maybe because she met him when she was so young.

28th November 2008, 03:27 AM
Thanks for the reply. That scream is downright scary isn't it? The first time she did it, I thought I'd crushed her foot or something, but realized that she was a whole foot away from me when she screamed and I couldn't have. She was running from the stuffed animal. She hid behind a table and looked around at it. I picked it up to move it and she ran again. I have to hide it whenever she goes into my daughter's room now.

I think I need to get her in a puppy kindergarten class so she can meet some other dogs before she gets much older. She has had two sets of puppy shots, and her next set is due at 16 weeks. I wonder, is she protected enough to be around dogs that I am unsure of the vaccination status?

It is odd she is this way. When I first brought her home, she spent the first day growling Bandit away from her and taking refuge from his playful advances under the coffee table. He just didn't want to leave her alone. She was a little intimidated by the big dogs. I waited until the day after bringing her home to introduce them. They sniffed her, but pretty much just ignored her after that. Within a couple of days, she was going up to them wiggling all over, begging for their "love". She warmed up to him after a couple of days and now they are best buddies. She actually dominates him! She will take his treats, barge up and bully him away from his food bowl (even though she has her own) etc. I guess I need to socialize her as much as possible these early weeks with people and other dogs.