How Do I Help a Shy Dog Socialise?

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Whatever the reason behind your dog's shyness, correcting it is a process that requires a lot of love and patience.

The first month

The first month is critical. Make sure that you have time to invest in an intensive socialization program during your new dog or puppy’s early weeks with you. Do click here to know how ensure your newest member of your family gets acclimatised.

Do not mollycoodle

When your dog is frightened, it's human to want to comfort your dog and praise her. However, your dog assumes that you are praising him for being scared which reinforces skittish behaviour. Only praise your dog when she acts confidently.

Get your training basics right

A dog that can follow commands is a confident dog. Put your dog's leash on him, then head outside. Practice "come," "sit," "down" and other basic commands. Praise him when he exhibits any confident behaviour. Click here for basic obedience tips.

Practice people therapy

Have a dog-loving friend sit with her back to your dog. Place food treats or your dog's favourite toy in her outstretched hands. Tell her not to speak or make eye contact with your dog. Praise your dog when he takes a treat or the toy.


Yawning is actually a calming signal for the dogs. Once again, have your friend hold treats while looking at the ground, not at your dog. It might sound silly, but ask your friend to yawn repeatedly—and join in. You'll notice your dog relaxing as the two of you yawn. Again, every time your dog takes a treat, praise her.

Chin and chest only please

When friends come over, have them stand still with a treat and let your dog go to them first. Ask your friends to only pet your dog under the chin and on the chest. Ensure they do not pet her on the head or back.

Make new dog friends

The more chances your dog gets to meet new friends, the better behaved he'll likely be.

  • Start with having your leashed dog interact frequently with other leashed dogs. 
  • To get your dog feeling more comfortable around his canine counterparts, start with dogs that you already know are trustworthy. 
  • If your dog behaves himself, reward him for his polite behaviour in the presence of the other dog. Gradually work up to rewarding the dog for being close to the other dog, getting closer and closer each time.
  • Allow your dog to play freely with another dog in a fenced area. Have the owner of the other dog, pet your dog if possible. A tired, happy dog is often less skittish. 

Seeking the right help

If your dog feels too uncomfortable being in a class setting with other dogs—and if nothing else seems to be helping—you may want to consider seeking the assistance of a professional dog trainer who specialises in shy dogs. Ask your friends and vet for recommendations.

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