Shy puppy

New puppy, but she’s shy…

shy puppy

Getting a new puppy is so exciting, even before the puppy arrives in your home. You’ve already been thinking about how you will teach your new friend all the behaviors that are so important for a dog to learn, like sit and down, stay and come, heel, leave it, paws up, sit pretty, and… So where do you start?

It depends on what kind of puppy you are getting! Now, I’m not talking about what breed, like a terrier or a German shepherd. I’m talking about your puppy’s personality. Every dog has a different personality. There are the bold dogs, the really pushy ones, and there are more inhibited dogs, and everything in between. Often times we buy or adopt a puppy (or older dog) and it turns out not to be what we were hoping for, at first, or not what we were expecting.

Take my new puppy that arrived here a couple of months ago, for example. I was looking for a new prospect to play agility with, maybe even some competition obedience and all the other shiny dog sports that I enjoy doing with my dogs. She comes from a good breeder, her parents are grand champions and she is built beautifully. But… she is a shy puppy. I wasn’t looking for a social butterfly type of dog that needs to see every person and every dog, but I was hoping for a dog that could handle people and other animals in her environment and not be bothered by them. That’s kind of important when you want to do dog sports.

Reality Check

In reality things looked a little different, actually a lot different. When she arrived from her flight from Texas, she was petrified. For two weeks straight all she did was lay around and do nothing, no naughty puppy behaviors, just plain nothing. She didn’t play, she just laid around and looked like a lamb that was about to be eaten by wolves, like she had totally given up on life. It was quite sad to look at, but there was still a glimmer of hope in me that she would eventually turn into a dog. She was even scared of her food bowl and didn’t like eating at all. When you are petrified, eating is last thing on your mind of course. In those first two weeks I tried building her confidence by giving her all kinds of different things to eat from. Some things were too much for her, so I had to make it really easy for her to be successful at first. Slowly she gained some confidence and was able to eat from a cup, from a spoon, out of a box, a treat ball, and many other things. And after two weeks this happened (first time playing by herself with a cat ball):

She plays!!!

That gave me a lot of hope, even though she was just playing by herself, that there actually was a dog in there. She just needed time to decompress and feel safe enough to start playing.

Slowly I started to show her that playing with me could be fun too. Of course I had to be very careful to not overwhelm her, but after a few more weeks I now had a dog that enjoyed playing with me.

The two behaviors that I’ve worked on since this puppy came into my life aren’t obedience behaviors. They are that playing with me and that eating can both be fun. I needed these behaviors to be able to ever teach her all the fancy things that I want to teach her, because it is impossible to teach any being if there isn’t motivation for something.

Want to read more about how to build your pups confidence? Here is a great article from The Whole Dog Journal. 

Let us help you bring out the best in your shy puppy!

We can help bring out the best in your dog!

Freak On A Leash dog trainers are experts in using positive reinforcement techniques. Let us help bring calm into your chaos.