I am going to try and cut and paste a long post that I emailed to a friend of mine who was having questions from an adopter of a shy dog.


Most of the time a husky introduced into a household with family dynamics especially a small child is very traumatic for that dog.  He pretty much only knew a dog yard and lots of dogs around him before he came to your house.  He still doesn’t know where he fits in, how to interact with a family or how to trust new people.  This is pretty common for a sled dog.

Here are some things you should be doing. 

1) for his trust issues he needs to understand that WONDERFUL things come from his family.  I would carry around pieces of chicken, cheese or even kibble if he is super food motivated.  Each time you walk by him just drop him a piece.  Don’t make him take it out of your hand….just drop it.  He has to begin to understand that great things come from you.  Don’t make a big deal of it.

2) too many people try and pet the shy dogs TOO soon.  It should be on the dogs terms at the start.  If you “push” the dog too much then they can go the other way and become worse.  Again, it is all a trust issue and what they can expect from you.  It IS good that when he comes up to you that he loves to be petted.  This is a good sign.  He just doesn’t trust enough to be approached right now.  He has to do the approaching.  Again….if he comes up while you are sitting and you can pet him…give him a little treat.  And be sure not to go overboard on the pets.  YOU make the decision when to stop petting him.  Get into noticing his body language.  Stop petting him before he is ready and then don’t touch him.  Let him be quiet beside you.

3) Yes…expectations are always high with a new pet…..most people want a plug in dog and these rescued sled dogs usually aren’t plug in…Often takes a year or 2 even but oh the reward is so great…..so don’t get too upset if you think he isn’t coming around fast enough.  When he figures things out and becomes more at ease it will all fall into place.

4) getting him in and out of the house is worrisome.  You are just creating more angst when you have to herd or corral him…I always approach a shy dog from the side…meaning I turn my side to him and keep my palm down in front.  A shy dog REALLY needs to see where your hands are at all times.  go slowly.

What might help is to put a loop line on his collar.  He wears it all the time.  Don’t make it long enough that he can step through it…just dangles to his elbow…not big enough that he can step through it with his other feet……then when you have to hook him out go gently sideways up to him and GENTLY grab the loop….so you aren’t touching his collar or putting your hands where he can not see them.  Remember…his main problem is trust and when he can’t see your hands then he freaks out.  I would tie him out with this loop also.

5) exercise. He should be walked every single day.  There is nothing better to building trust and having a happy dog.  He might not walk well on a leash but what I do is this:

Make sure his collar is tight so he can’t slip it….you can walk him with the loop too.  Some dogs trash around and pull, don’t worry about that.  YOU are the walker.  Stand TALL….look forward, be positive….don’t let him dictate where you are going…just take a firm walk down the road and back.  If he is pulling too hard just stop and stand there…don’t look at him…don’t say anything to him (and by all means don’t yell or punish him–he really doesn’t know what you want)…just stop…..once he settles down and you feel a slack on the leash then go again.  You may have to do this for weeks.  But dogs LOVE to go for walks….once he understands that he can only walk when he isn’t pulling then it will all fit for him.  Too many people yank their dogs around, put them on prong collars or just quit walking them because they don’t have the patience.  Try to understand from his viewpoint.  He just needs to understand what you want and right now he is having a really hard time figuring that out.

6) new people—–same with the treats.  Your friends should totally ignore him BUT when they are there, just toss him treats.  Don’t look at him…don’t interact with him….just walk past and drop a treat.  He needs to know that people aren’t scary…that GREAT things come from them.

7) hubby—many dogs have a fear of men…….have your husband talk in a higher voice to him.  Sing-songy kind of.  Most dogs in training react to higher sounds in the human range.

Good luck!