Tips For Helping A Shy Dog Adjust To Life With Your Family

Does your dog exhibit chronic anxiety or shyness, to the extent that they are unable to socialize with other dogs and family members? These traits are commonly found in rescue dogs, particularly when the dog has been abused, neglected or not properly socialized. This behavior is worrisome to their owners and families who love them, usually because dog simply doesn’t know how to accept affection or attention without getting scared.

Your Approach

When you have a shy or anxious dog, you want to help them to become less scared and more a part of the family. This takes a lot of patience, compassion and time invested by every member of the family. Your approach must be a gentle one, and consistency between different members of the family is key. Have a family meeting and agree on how you will all behave around and toward your dog. From the dog’s perspective, they are having a hard time trusting that they won’t be hurt again. Rebuilding that trust is of great importance if you are to have a happy relationship with your dog.

Self-Confidence and Esteem

A shy or anxious dog that has endured some kind of abuse or neglect likely has issues with low self-confidence and low self-esteem, very similar to that of humans who have been abused. To build up your dog’s confidence and esteem you need to socialize them well. The best place to socialize a dog is the dog park. At a dog park, your dog has the chance to meet other dogs and observe how they interact with their own humans, and you. If your dog feels more secure staying on the leash, that’s fine. They will still get to experience other dogs, the sounds and smells, and eventually will start feeling more confident. Your dog’s confidence and sense of security will gradually increase with regular visits to the dog park. Just let them take it as slowly as they need to and they will grow to enjoy it.


Dog experts always say that exercising your dog is the first step in solving most behavior issues. According to a specialist from Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic, anxious dogs are no different and can benefit from regular exercise. When you take your dog on a walk, or just into the back yard for a game of fetch, they get to expend pent-up energy. When that pent-up energy is not released, it turns into anxiety for your dog. An anxious dog chews on things they shouldn’t, they misbehave, and destroy things like rugs, pillows, furniture and shoes. Taking your dog for a nice long walk or run will get rid of that anxious energy so they can relax when at home.

A shy or anxious dog can still be a sweet and loving pet for you and your family. Try these tips and see if it makes a difference. All pets deserve a safe and loving home, and patience can be the key to providing this.

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