Can a shy dog be cured?

It’s possible! Most fearful dogs gradually improve with time, training, and trust. But they won’t likely become outgoing if they’re naturally nervous or shy.

It is a common belief that a truly gunshy dog cannot be treated. It is a bit of a catch-22 because if you claim to have treated a gun-shy dog, people will scoff that the dog was actually just “gun-nervous.”

And if a handler is unable to calm a gun-averse dog, he will assert that the dog was likely gun-averse from the beginning.

The truth is that there is no clear line separating those who are afraid of guns from those who are anxious about guns. They refer to various levels of fear in the presence of gunshots or other loud bangs, but they are somewhat ambiguous terms.

While some dogs are undoubtedly less prone to noise phobia, it’s likely that the majority of anxious dogs are made rather than born this way. I have a Labrador retriever who endured a terrible event when she was about three months old.

When the puppy was alone in the garden, a neighbor unexpectedly set off some very loud fireworks just a few feet away.

She bolted clean through a thick hedge and out onto the road in her panic, for reasons we do not understand. Fortunately, she made it to our front porch after finding her way into our driveway. Some time later, we found her there, cowering in a corner, trembling, and utterly terrified.

Tess had been a happy puppy up until that point, unconcerned by any loud noises and content to have saucepans clatter around her. She began to tremble uncontrollably under the kitchen table after that whenever there was a loud noise.

We tried various ways to ‘desensitise’ her without much luck. I was devastated. So much potential ruined and gone to waste. But at that time, I had a lot going on in my life, and I didn’t have time for intensive “rehabilitation.”

But regrettably, she was unable to enjoy our outings while we were picking up or shooting.

When my daughter was around three, she decided Tess would make a good pet, so she brought her home to live with her. This appeared to be a good chance for Tess to live a more traditional family life.

Since I had really missed Tess while she was away, I jumped at the chance to see her again when my daughter’s work hours were changed.

My life had also changed, and I now had some spare time. While Tess watched me and the other dogs leave for training, I felt bad for her. Now that she was less bothered by loud bangs in the house, I decided to try to help her overcome her fear of them.

But first, I had to “catch up” with her because she had received only very basic training, such as manners and fitness retrieving. We worked on improving her obedience for a few weeks so that she could participate in my group sessions with the other dogs.

When Tess was comfortable sitting in a group with the other dogs while I walked about 100 yards away, I tried to introduce the starting pistol. I muffled it by firing it inside my game bag. It was a very low volume shot, at well over a hundred yards.

Given that Tess’s only response was to stand up, anyone observing would likely assume that she was simply being naughty.

But I knew she was not happy. No matter how far away I was, Tess would never get up without asking because she is the epitome of virtue. Her heart was pounding when I got back to the group. She refused to take another seat, was struggling to breathe, and kept attempting to jump up at me. All completely out of character.

She might have sped back to the car if we hadn’t walked a ways away from it. But for now, being around the other dogs provided some solace.

I acknowledged that I had probably been overly optimistic in even trying the exercise, and that I needed to reconsider.

I borrowed a CD player and purchased a copy of the sounds for behavior therapy CD as my first action. I then played this constantly in the kitchen. All day with no let up. At a very low, almost imperceptible volume.

Tess stayed under the kitchen table for the majority of the first day. Even at a volume I could hardly hear, she really disliked the CD. It was very tempting at this point to give up.

For the remainder of the day, I paid her no attention and left the CD playing. By evening, she felt at ease enough to leave for dinner.

We progressed over the next few days. I fussed over her and talked to her when she came out after each time she became accustomed to a certain volume before gradually turning it up. After just a few days, I was able to play the CD loudly without bothering her at all.

This was exciting. Real progress. I had the misguided idea that I could now return to the distant, muffled starting pistol.

She responded the same way when I tried again with the starting pistol, much to my dismay. She did not like it at all.

Tess is a dedicated retriever who is incredibly natural, quick, and keen. She was also by this point, completely steady. If she was never going to get to go shooting, what I had in mind would ruin the steadiness, but there was little point in keeping it!

I enlisted my better half’s assistance and began playing a large-scale retrieving game in which I excitedly threw dummies and allowed Tess to run in and chase them. All of them. Over and over.

My husband fired a shot from the starting pistol from a hundred yards away when she was fully immersed in this new and very sinister activity.

Hey presto! At last no reaction from Tess. She was too engrossed in the ‘game’ to be afraid. We had something we could build on.

The starting pistol was brought closer over the following weeks until we could fire it all around her as she pursued dummies.

My retriever was finally overcoming her fear of the gun. Would I ever be able to regain her loyalty, though?

This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I simply stopped all retrieving and started steadying her up like I would a puppy. All went well. The following step was to accustom her to actual gunfire.

We were now in the pigeon shooting season, so I spent several days taking Tess for walks while keeping a good distance (hundreds of yards) from the various pigeon hides on the farm. Despite our success with the starting pistol. She was not happy to begin with. Even though this was frustrating, there was no way I was giving up now!

I kept trying to divert her with training, retrieves, and food until she finally let go. Gradually moving closer and closer to the action.

I was able to easily approach the gunshots from a distance of 50 yards by the end of the summer. I was disappointed that she couldn’t join us when the pheasant shooting season began, but we kept bringing single gunshots closer and closer to her. She was improving all the time.

Tess was finally able to handle shots fired from a 12 bore at her side by November, and by Christmas, she was able to join us for some rough shooting.

Her first driven shoot days in January marked a significant turning point for both her and me. Finally able to pursue her passion, this sweet-natured young woman was having a blast. She was a fearless “cover basher” and a really valuable addition to our team.

Together, we had made great progress, and my foxy red pet had evolved into a well-mannered working dog.

I’m not promoting this approach as a way to calm down a frightened dog. I can’t guarantee that it would be effective for all dogs or in all circumstances. It might not work with a dog who was naturally anxious rather than one who became anxious after an incident like Tess.

Why not share your experience in the comments section below if you’ve ever dealt with a gun-shy or anxious dog and what worked for you?

The Happy Puppy Handbook, a comprehensive guide to early puppy care and training, might interest you if you liked this article.

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Can a shy dog be cured?

There are many reasons why dogs become timid over time, including some or all of the following:

The young Border Collie/Border Collie mix paced and panted outside a café’s entrance while restrained. He was approached by a couple who approached him thinking he was a friendly dog tied outside a café. He burst into a rage of barks and shrieks, but before they could approach within five feet, he urinated. The dog’s person rushed out, coffee in hand. The dog cowered into her as she said, “Sorry—he’s a little shy.” She quickly led the dog away down the street after untying him.

Some timid dogs behave timidly only around people, while others do so only around other dogs. However, many people exhibit the behavior in stressful circumstances where neither a person nor a dog are present. Any unpredicted event, such as thunder, fireworks, traffic, or fireworks, can send a timid dog into a panicked state.

Obedience instruction A timid dog will be less likely to panic if she understands exactly what is expected of her. Teaching your timid dog the fundamental commands, especially “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Come,” is crucial. Avoid shouting or displaying excessive emotion, and never adopt an overbearing or intimidating style. Remain composed and encouraging, but refrain from coddling and lavish, inflated praise. Toys and treats can help to keep them happy while they are being trained. All new behaviors should be introduced in a quiet, distraction-free environment indoors. Incorporate distractions gradually over time, such as a friend reading a newspaper, a football game on television, or children playing outside a window. Eventually take the obedience outside. Keep a leash on your timid dog if they have a tendency to flee when they get scared.

After a few minutes, reward them both by sitting about ten to fifteen feet apart. Then move on, and repeat. Reduce the “worry radius” gradually over time (days if necessary), but don’t feel compelled to have the dogs greet each other unless it’s crystal clear from their body language that they want to. The goal is to convince your timid dog that something important is taking precedence over her fears. She needs to practice “teaming” with other dogs in order to develop her dog-liking skills.

The hypothalamic, pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) may undergo permanent physiological changes as a result of prolonged exposure to stress. ) Corticotropin (CORT), adrenalin, and epinephrine are released in this region of the brain in response to stress.

Managing A Dog With Fear Issues: Recognizing that fear cannot be eradicated is among the most crucial things for owners of fearful dogs to remember. Any trainer or veterinarian who claims to be able to cure a dog’s owner is either lying or uneducated in the management of fear and fear-aggression. One may anticipate seeing significant behavioral improvements in dogs with excellent training and behavior modification, but they should also prepare for relapses.

How To Help A Dog Suffering From Fear The initial step should be to speak with a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist and report the behavior. The doctor will perform blood tests and examine the dog to look for underlying medical conditions that might be the source of the behavior. It’s important to rule those out because many illnesses can trigger frightened or aggressive reactions.

Breathing plays an important role. The dog can tell a lot about a person’s emotional state just by the way they breathe. These states serve as crucial cues for the dog to determine what actually qualifies as a treat. When owners are angry or afraid they will react accordingly or keep their dogs on high alert the entire time they are outside.

Averting encounters that cause the reaction is the second most crucial factor. A dog can’t be fearful if it’s not feeling threatened. This is especially critical during the training process.


What causes a dog to be shy?

Although a fearful dog may have been mistreated or had a bad experience, most fears are caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and a lack of experience in the first few weeks of life. A dog may have missed the opportunity to socialize with new people because he was not exposed to them frequently enough as a puppy.

How do you train a shy dog to be nervous?

The following tips will help you train successfully:
  1. Use positive training methods only. Ignore and redirect unwanted behavior rather than punishing your dog.
  2. Be patient. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your fearful dog.
  3. Go at your dog’s pace. …
  4. Teach your dog to nose target.

Is anxiety in dogs curable?

Anxiety can be treated just like unhealthy behaviors like biting, barking, and chewing on everything in sight. Anxiety can be completely cured, but it can also sometimes only be managed; it becomes noticeable in certain situations.