Dealing with a Frightened or Shy Puppy

by Perfect Puppy Care on January 11, 2010

Scared Puppy

Dealing with a frightened or shy puppy can be a frustrating experience.

It is a normal reaction to want to calm the puppy when you see them cower or tuck their tail between their legs when being approached. It can be maddening to have a puppy that urinates when approached. That’s why it is important for anyone training a puppy to understand the idea of socialization and to implement teaching procedures that will reinforce the positive behavior and ignore the shy or frightened behavior.

Experts on canine behavior claim that shyness often stems from a lack of confidence. Deafness, blindness, chronic hunger and pain are also contributing factors. Puppies who are abused or beaten will quickly turn into cowering balls of fur or snarling, growling and aggressive pets. Proper training can go a long way in eliminating these problems.

Realize that it is natural for dogs to be afraid of new things. That’s why you have to socialize your puppy so that they are not afraid of people, new or strange objects and places and other animals.

Puppies also have natural “fear periods.” The first eight weeks of life is one of them. A second kicks in around the ages of four to six months.

One of the first rules of puppy training is to go slow. Don’t force a puppy into scary situations. It’s normal to want your puppy to respond positively to all situations and to do it now, but you have to give the dog time to adapt and learn that new experiences can be good.

When your puppy does show his or her fear, don’t reinforce it. It’s natural to want to coddle them, but those actions can actually reinforce the unwanted behavior. Puppy will soon learn that it is easy to get attention by cowering, shaking or whining. Don’t reward the fearful behavior. Ignore it and save the praise for when the puppy demonstrates good behavior.

Be prepared to spend time teaching your puppy positive behavioral traits. It is not going to happen overnight, so settle in for the long haul.

While it is only natural that people tend to gather around a new puppy, remember that this can be frightening for the little fur ball. Let the puppy approach the person. Never push the puppy to go to the person. Give them time. If a puppy runs off to hide, he or she will come back when they feel confident with the situation. Using verbal commands to make the puppy come out of hiding is a big mistake.

In fact, soothing the puppy verbally can actually make the situation worse and reinforce the idea that he or she is being praised for hiding. If the situation allows, walk away and give the puppy time to adapt.

One of the best things a puppy owner can do is to include the dog in as much as possible, as early as possible. Whether it be watching your child’s football game from the sidelines or hiking through the woods, a puppy will soon learn to anticipate new experiences rather than fear them.

Dogs who are kept outdoors away from people and household living situations will be much harder to train to be confident because their environment is too limited. If you are raising an outdoor dog, it is important to spend time with them. In fact, they may require more time than a puppy that lives indoors with you. Don’t expect the puppy to train him or herself!

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