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    How to interact with a shy or fearful dog

    Articlegeneral dog adviceWednesday 29 May 2013
    A shy and a fearful dog can be the most difficult to communicate with especially if you want to provide needed help and assistance to it. There are a number of techniques you can use to get closer to this dog to help with what you need to do.
    Remember that shy dogs are scared and fearful for a reason. It is not natural for a dog to be like this. Perhaps they were taken away too soon from their mother or brothers and sisters. Worse still, they may have been greatly abused by humans. Take your time, take it slowly and never get upset or aggressive when a dog does not follow your orders.
    • First of all, you should try to let the dog come to you as naturally as possible. Do not force the matter. Whatever you do, do not use aggression or force the matter. This is only likely to make the situation a lot worse than it already is.
    • Turn your body to the side – If you face a dog and look into its eyes, a dog may see this as confrontational and act accordingly. Therefore turning your body away will help improve your standing to the dog and it may approach you better.
    • As said earlier, avoid eye contact. A direct stare into a dog means you want to confront it. If the dog is naturally shy and fearful it will retreat, if on the other hand it is aggressive then this can mean a fight.
    • If you need to pick the dog up then do not “swoop” to do this. A quick and sudden movement from above can frighten the dog. It is best to go and crouch down to the dog’s level, maybe pet it for a while and then pick it up slowly. With your hands under the belly and chest, carefully maintaining stability and confidence.
    • Never smile at a frightened dog. Yes, you did read that correctly. Smiling often reveals your teeth and teeth mean war in the animal kingdom. Make sure you smile with your mouth closed so you do not reveal your “war machine”.
    • If you are still unsure then it may be best to contact a qualified dog trainer to help you out with this. This is especially useful if you have an extreme shy dog that has serious social problems.
    • Petting your dog should be as relaxing as possible. The majority of dogs do not like being hit on the head. What works best is usually slow stroking and petting around the side of the dog’s body. Rubbing in a circular motion usually works best. Be soft when talking to it too as loud, sharp sounds will scare it away.
    • Keep your body relax – There is an element of truth in that dogs can sense fear. You should therefore try to keep your body as relaxed and normal as possible. Dogs often imitate humans and if you are tense and shy then most likely they will be too.
    • Ignore the dog – Ignoring can be a good technique. This means that it will be the dog that initiates contact with you and not the other way around. This means that they want to get to know you and are happy to be with you. Often this process works best. You should never initiate contact yourself. This will only make matters worse and push the dog further away.
    • Use treats – Getting a dog to warm to you can require the best of the best in terms of treats. Reward it when it displays warming to you. Provide treats like small bits of grilled chicken or steak. Make sure it is meat based and make sure they love it.
    This helpful video highlights some of the tips given in this guide and also shows an example clip of a dog called Dude coming closer to his owner. 

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