What is the right way to teach a silent hello to my shy dog so he will have confidence to come up to me?

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Many dogs suffer from shyness or initial distrust of humans. This could have something to do with an incident, such as abuse, which causes them to be cautious, or it could just be a trait of their breed. No matter why your dog is shy, you’ll want to work with your dog to overcome this shyness so that he can live a happier and healthy life.

A good tactic to get your shy dog to give a silent hello is to use the technique of hand targeting. Hand targeting will recondition your dog to believe that an outreached hand isn’t something to be afraid of, but rather a friendly and calming gesture. Start by bringing your dog to a comfortable, quiet place for this exercise. Have small treats in one hand. Stretch your other hand out towards the dog in a slow, non-threatening manner. When your dog comes close enough to your open hand to touch the hand with his nose, say “yes!” and give your dog a treat from the other hand.

Keep doing this with your dog until he continuously comes towards your hand and touches it with his nose in order to get the verbal praise and food reward. Practice presenting your hand in different manners. Eventually, you can do this exercise with other members of your family and your friends until your dog becomes comfortable with other people and is no longer afraid of an outstretched hand.

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