Perfect Puppy Problem Solving – Chapter 6 – Shyness and Fearfulness
Chapter 6 – Shyness and Fearfulness
Some puppies are born shy or fearful. They may have had timid parents. Temperament is passed down from parent to puppy, so if your puppy’s parents were shy, there’s a good chance that it’s in her genes. Some puppies are shy or fearful because they haven’t had a lot of positive social experiences during their first 16 weeks of life. Maybe they never left the house or kennel except to go to the veterinarian. Or maybe they were “outside” puppies that never enjoyed diverse interactions.
Shy puppies can be very challenging and frustrating. You want to make them less afraid of the world. You may want to do things with your puppy that require you to take her places or require that she be friendly with strangers. Unfortunately, you can’t reason with a shy puppy and simply explain to her that there’s no reason to be afraid. Instead, you must be very patient and help her overcome her fears.
What to Do
If you have a shy puppy, it’s best to contact a professional reward-based trainer to assist you. She will personally evaluate your puppy and help to develop a treatment plan to build her confidence.
What Not to Do
In the meantime, avoid these common mistakes:
- Forcing your shy puppy to confront her fears. Never put your puppy in someone’s lap if she has shown fear toward that person or has been hesitant to approach him. Never pull your puppy on leash toward an object that she is afraid of, and never discipline her for being afraid. All these actions are likely to increase her fear and could make her distrust you. Shy puppies always should set their own pace for overcoming their fears.
- Rewarding your puppy for shy behavior. If your puppy is trembling, and you scoop her up and fuss over her, you actually could make her fear worse. She may think that if you’re this upset, then she must have something to worry about. You’re also praising her for behavior that you don’t want. Resist the urge to coddle your puppy. Instead, act very confident and casual so that she can learn that there’s nothing for her to worry about.
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