Four tips for socializing your dog

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Many dogs are shy, just like humans. Dogs can have anxieties and be fearful of new surroundings and people, causing the shyness. If you think your dog is suffering from shyness, there are a few things you can do to help socialize your furry friend. Then, you guys will have more fun on walks, going to the dog park and meeting other dogs. Because really, what’s more fun than seeing your dog run around and going crazy with other pooches? Do you have stories about how your dog became friendly with other dogs, or suggestions if others are having troubles? Let us know in the comments below.

Signs of shyness

Before we get into fixing the problem, let’s go over how to determine if your dog is shy. There are many signs of shyness, including:

  • the ears flattening to the head
  • the tail tucked between the legs
  • lack of eye contact
  • trembling
  • hiding

If your dog exhibits any of these signs, he should not be ignored. Your dog is letting you know that he perceives the situation to be potentially threatening or dangerous. Extreme shyness or fear can lead to escape attempts, urination and biting. Fortunately, there are steps you can take you show your pet that there is nothing to fear.

Common causes of shyness

In order to know how to solve the problem, you should determine what is making your dog behave shyly. The most common cause of shyness in dogs is insufficient socializing during their first few weeks of life. Since they never learned how to socialize during this critical period, dogs may become timid when introduced to new settings. Another common cause of shyness is frequently moving homes or changing owners. When this happens, dogs aren’t given the chance to build familiarity and therefore shy away from situations. A third common cause is undergoing an abusive or traumatic experience. This is seen more frequently in dogs who were adopted at an older age from a shelter.

Solutions to the problem

Once you have determined the cause of your dog’s shyness, you can decide what steps to take. If you have a puppy, make sure it is exposed to new people and situations in order to avoid any future anxieties or shyness. If you have an older dog in which these behaviors have already been established, there are a few things you can do.

1. Don’t comfort—When your dog shows a fearful response to a situation, don’t comfort him. When you comfort your dog, it reinforces that shyness is an appropriate response. Instead, be confident and show your pet that there is nothing to fear.

2. Don’t force—Forcing your dog into a situation it is uncomfortable with will also reinforce the fearful response. Encourage your dog to approach other dogs and people, but if it doesn’t want to, don’t make matters worse.

3. Desensitize—Gradually expose your dog to the object or situation that causes the anxiety. Eventually, your dog will no longer see whatever it feared as threatening. Help your dog remain calm during anxious situations to build up its confidence. Remember to reward your dog for remaining calm in order to reinforce the behavior.

4. Socialize—Introduce your dog to as many new people as possible. The more people they meet, the more comfortable they will be meeting new people. When your dog meets a new person, have them squat down to the dog’s level so they appear less threatening. This will help your dog become more comfortable with social interactions.

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