- Cowering posture
- Tail tucked between the legs
- Panting or shaking
- Pacing, hiding or escaping
- Ears flattened to the back of the head
- Raised hackles
- Fear of eye contact
- Submissive urination
Identifying the triggers: Before you can help your dog feel more comfortable, you must first know what he is afraid of. Is he fearful around all people? Or just large men or small children? The best way to pinpoint exactly what he may be cowering over, is to spend some time making notes every time you notice your dog showing any of these signs. Knowing what your dog does at any given moment can help you manage him later.
Providing Safety: The best way to provide safety to your dog is to teach them that YOU are safety. To teach your dog that you are safety, you must make sure that good things happen every time your dog comes to you. This could be a treat, a toy, verbal praise or soft eye contact accompanied by a smile. You can also help him find some safe places in your home too, for those times that you aren’t there to provide him with security. These places could be a dog bed placed at the end of a couch or behind the dining table as well as in a room that isn’t frequented by visitors so he can have a safe place to retreat to.
Training: A shy dog that knows exactly what you are asking of her will be less likely to panic. It’s essential to teach your timid dog basic commands such as “sit”, “stay” and “come”. Never use an overbearing, intimidating voice and always avoid yelling. Staying calm and supportive and avoiding over the top, exaggerated praise. Begin by teaching all new behaviours in a quiet indoor spot with no distractions and make sure to incorporate treats and toys to make the experience more rewarding and fun for both you and your pup. Eventually, you can move the obedience training outside to introduce him to a new environment.
As always, it’s important to be patient. Some dogs are able to conquer their fears, especially learned fears of short duration. But other dogs will retain their fears or their tendency to be anxious. The best thing you can do is provide a measure of safety for your dog, teach him he can trust you and rely on you for being there for him as much as you can.