Your Pet Question:
How can I help my dog become less shy?
W.P. Kowall, Manitoba
The Expert Says:
Give the dog as many new social experiences as possible. For example, ride on a bus or walk your dog through busy spots to meet new people and animals. Make sure that the experiences are pleasant and unthreatening. If you meet dominant or wild dogs, always remain calm and friendly while keeping a distance. Never force your dog to come forward when it is scared, but go forward yourself to show that there is no danger. Ignore shy behavior – comforting the dog might be understood as concern on your part- making the dog less secure. Do not react when your dog retreats but always reward good behavior when it socializes well. Some dogs are just inherently shy; it takes time. But with practice, the right cues from you and opportunities to socialize often, your dog will eventually become more comfortable and outgoing in unfamiliar environments.
Dr. Anita Bielak, DVM, practices at Pet Vet Clinic in Steinbach, Manitoba.