Why Some Dogs Are Shy Or Fearful

For convenience, we will refer to your dog as “he” rather than “he or she”.


There are a number of possible reasons why some dogs are shy or fearful.  One common reason is physical discomfort or pain, or some other physical ailment such as poor eyesight or poor hearing.  Usually, once the problem has been correctly diagnosed, it can be cured or at least minimized.  The shyness could be caused by lack of socialization.  This can lead to isolation which often causes bad behaviour to develop, and in many cases this leads to punishment which just adds to the problem.


Unfortunately abuse is another common cause of fearfulness.  The mistreatment of a dog may be caused by very young children who tend to treat a dog like a toy.  This situation should be addressed as soon as you become aware of it.  Show the child by example the correct way to treat the dog.  Encourage young children to be gentle with the dog, just as they are with you.


It may be that the problem is genetic.  According to much scientific research, both genetics and the environment play equal parts in determining a dog’s personality.  Some dogs are born with shy and fearful temperaments, just as some humans are born with shy personalities.


In training your dog to cope, be sure not to add to his fears.  Watch him constantly for signs of fear and stress.  His reactions to various situations are often the best indicators.  You will quickly pick up these early signs once you have got to know your dog well.  The sooner you detect this type of behaviour problem the easier it will be to correct it and turn your dog into a happy and cheerful companion.  This type of change will not happen overnight, so once again be patient, calm and understanding with him as he develops and grows.


We wish you every training success and years of enjoyment for both you and your dog.