Shy Dogs

Living with Shy Dogs


In my experience adopting a shy dog (Pyrrha) and fostering shy dogs through Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, I have begun to realize that many people have no idea what to do with shy dogs.

Birthday shoot in black-and-white
Our dog Pyrrha, a shy dog.

I myself didn’t know what I was in for when we adopted Pyrrha. Many potential adopters I’ve talked to said they don’t think they’d know how to help a shy dog, or even how to recognize fearful behavior.

I’ve learned from trainers, tons of books, and lots of mistakes we’ve made, but I wanted to compile this living resource for those who have a shy dog or work with shy dogs, so that we can all learn from each other and from those who are more experienced than ourselves.


That side eye! Kills me.
Our foster Rainer, a shy dog.


After you’ve done individual research, seek a local trainer or behaviorist who is experienced with shy dogs. Ideally, find a positive-reinforcement trainer (or clicker trainer). I don’t believe that ANY dogs respond well to force or coercion, but shy dogs especially do not receive aversive, “dominance”-based training well. Find an educated, positive trainer who can help you and your dog with your issues. I’m thrilled that we found Deven Gaston of Canine Campus in our town. I hope that you can find an equally great, sensitive trainer to partner with.

What resources have helped you with your shy dog?

(Page last updated: 28 August 2013)


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