Research has shown that a shy dog can be the result of genetic heritability. Genes can influence how reactive or fearful dogs are. Shyness is expressed as discomfort with unfamiliar people and places. To dog trainers and biologists shyness refers to fear of the unfamiliar.
Dogs and humans express their discomfort differently around strangers. Both humans and dogs can be shy but shy people rarely attack a visitor they don’t know. Humans can often avoid the uncomfortable social encounter whereas dogs may not have a choice. They can be in a yard, tied up or on a leash and cannot get away. They also have no way of knowing that the UPS man is delivering a package and is not a threat to invading the home.
Studies have shown that genetically inherited shyness in dogs is a predisposition for the behavior. The dog’s behavior can be influenced. The degree in which you can influence shyness in a dog will depend upon how strong the inherited tendency is and the timing and effectiveness of the intervention. It’s often with positive experiences dogs will overcome their shyness to varying degrees.
What can escalate into a more substantial problem is a combination of behavior traits. Dogs that are shy, territorial and quick to use their mouths can pose a risk of biting. Some dogs that are shy will act out with aggression when feeling too threatened. Dogs that react with aggression may well benefit from a professional trainer before the behavior escalates and a person or dog are bitten. I’d suggest not waiting for a confrontation to happen but recognize the aggressive behavior as a real potential for a problem and intervene early on.
Effective socialization can help a shy dog become more confident and comfortable in the world. You may not be able to completely counter the effects of a genetic predisposition to shyness or a lack of socialization but you can lessen the influence with quick effective intervention.
Socializing your puppy
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