Treats go a LONG way in helping a shy dog to trust. If you ever end up rescuing or adopting a shy dog there are many things you can do to help that dog gain trust. One of them is to give this dog a lot of treats. A lot of times just letting a shy dog “be” really helps that dog to learn that you being around is nothing to be frightened of. So many times I have gotten calls from people saying “oh please help. The dog that we got just isn’t responding to us. She/he won’t come, won’t let us touch them, won’t respond to our touch. What do we do?” My first question is always “how long have you had the dog?” In the majority of cases the person will respond “4 days” or “1 week”. People expect a dog that is fearful, thrown into a totally new place, probably doesn’t understand living in a house or living in a home with children to just be an instant companion and friend. I usually end up telling the people that sometimes it takes many months (and maybe a year or two!!) for that dog to trust them.
But my first rule of thumb that I always encourage is to just let the dog be. That means….if the dog has found a comfortable place in your home or yard, then just let the dog be quiet there. Don’t always try and pet her. Don’t try and call the dog to you. Just be relaxed around the dog AND carry lots of treats. Every time you walk by the dog, drop a treat in front of her. A GOOD treat. Yummy chummies, pieces of chicken, a tasty biscuit. Something that the dog REALLY likes. Soon that dog will really perk up when they see you walking around.
If you aren’t running the dog in a team or skijoring with the girl, then a good long walk can usually strengthen that bond. A lot of shy dogs seem a bit “beaten down”. Not that they have all been beaten, but it often seems that they think life has beaten them and they have that unhappy look. Often these dogs resign themselves to their situation. The shy dogs that we have had love to go for walks. Super shy ones can try and bolt if on a leash but most of the time we find the dog just quietly walks along with us. We never try to pet them, talk to them or really interact with them other than being on the other end of the leash. WITH lots of treats in our pockets. If we stop we just drop a treat for the dog.
Kindness, love and lots of patience will reward you with a foreverly grateful dog.
These pointers can take weeks or months. The important thing to me is to not “push” the dog too much. Baby steps is often what it takes to bring that trust back in the dogs mind. Being aggressive in your desire to pet the dog can often make them backslide.
There is no greater reward than to see that dog blossom under your care and patience.