Training a timid or shy dog poses a unique set of problems for the owner or the trainer. Timid or shy dogs may have been isolated during there formative stages as a puppy, removed too quickly from the mother and littermates, or may have had abusive owners in their life. Many dogs from rescues may appear to be somewhat timid and shy until they become familiar with their new families and form a trusting bond with owners.

There are also breeds that are naturally more timid and shy than others. Many of the miniature and toy breeds are either very timid or overly assertive and some of the larger breeds may also have the same type of dramatic temperament differences. Generally a good idea is to watch the puppy or dog in his or her own natural state to see if they are scared in new places or are just a timid personality.

If you have a dog that has a timid or shy personality there are some training techniques that you can use to help your dog cope. Remember that they will likely never be as outgoing as an extroverted dog, but they can learn to be less afraid with new people and settings.

The following techniques and tips work well when training a timid dog:

- Always work slowly and at the dog's rate of learning. If they are afraid of something never force them to approach the object or person, rather allow them to keep their distance, gradually approaching as they become more confident. Sometimes this may take several minutes and occasionally it may take days or even longer.†

- Never punish a timid dog for their natural behavior, this will only further cause anxiety and decrease the dog's trust in you. Try to anticipate what will frighten or scare the dog in new environments and keep the dog as far away from this object as possible until they are comfortable.†

- Use praise and treats much more frequently than you would with a more extroverted dog. Even a step forward is a big accomplishment.

- Watch for signs of stress such as whining, submissive urination, pacing or panting and salivating. Once the dog is engaging in these behaviors you have pushed too far and no further training is occurring. Back off until the dog is calm and then try again later, moving more slowly.

- Timid dogs can often become aggressive if pushed too far. Never corner or trap a timid dog as they can quickly resort to snapping or biting if they believe that they are in danger.

- Provide safe socialization activities for a timid dog or puppy. A professional trainer can really help you work with your dog in new situations and environments. Be sure to talk with the instructor if you are planning on attending a group class and let him or her know your dog is timid. They can then help you cope with this in the class and even explain to other participants about your specific needs for the class.

Timid and shy dogs can become loving companions and great dogs for many people. By training at the dog's pace and keeping them as secure and socialized as possible you will help your dog gain confidence and become more positive about new people, places and things.


Try bribing your shy dog with something cool like an upscale personalized dog bed or an iron raised bowl dog feeder!