My dog is shy. What should I do?
When dogs are young, it’s important to socialize them whenever you have the opportunity. It helps to use food and treats during this process. Carry treats with you wherever you go so the people you meet can give them to your dog. Introduce your dog to a diverse array of people: tall, short, big, small, different races, men, women, children, wearing hats, using a cane, etc. Do not force your pup to become friends with people it’s scared of. If your dog is wiggly and excited, have the person greet them. If he is nervous or scared, have them toss the treat on the ground and keep walking. Forcing a dog to interact with someone or coddling a fearful dog will only encourage the fear—ignoring the dog’s fear is the best strategy. Make sure not to reward your dog for “spook barking” at someone or something. Try to get treats in before this happens. If you miss the opportunity to distract your dog with treats, make sure you’re prepared next time to catch the dog before it starts barking. If you reward after barking starts, you are only rewarding the unwanted behavior.
This method will work for puppies as well as adult dogs. It’s important that you don’t move too fast or expect too much too soon. As with so much of dog training, patience is the key!