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?