DOG GUIDETraining & Behavior

Timid Dog: How To Manage This Behavior?

Timid dogs are often misunderstood and mislabeled as bad dogs. This is not the case! Shyness is an instinct that serves an important function: it alerts dogs to danger and keeps them safe from harm. Also, a timid dog may be very loyal and loving. It’s just that they are more cautious around new people, places, or things. While this behavior can be frustrating for some owners, if you give your shy dog time to warm up to you and build trust with you, their personality will shine through.

And to give you a complete list of the reasons for your dog’s shyness and how to manage it, check the lists below.


If your dog is timid, you might wonder why. There are many reasons a dog can be timid and it’s important to know what they are.

? Genetics

You can’t change your genetics, but you can choose your dog’s parents and environment. If a dog has timid tendencies in his genes, he may be more likely to act timid or shy than other puppies born around the same time. However, good breeding practices can help counteract this by selecting traits like confidence and friendliness (which help a puppy make friends) over timidity and shyness (which might make him less likely to do so).

Training and socialization throughout life will also help influence whether or not a puppy grows up to be an outgoing adult who makes friends easily or someone who shies away from new situations.

? Bad handling

Bad handling is one of the most common reasons for a dog to become shy. In fact, it’s probably the most common reason! If a puppy (or adult dog) has been handled roughly or roughly disciplined by someone they’ve bonded with, they may become fearful of that person. This can lead them to shy away from personal attention and affection, and potentially even avoid their owner altogether.

? Bad breeding

You may have a shy pooch if you or your dog’s breed are prone to this behavior. Some dogs are bred to be shy, including some herding and hunting breeds. Terriers, for example, can be naturally wary of strangers and other animals due to their prey drive.

Shyness can also arise as a result of improper socialization at an early age (or lack thereof), or when you do not train your dog well enough as he grows up. For instance, if your puppy is not taught “sit” and “stay” commands properly when he is still young, he may grow up fearful around new people because he has never learned how to interact with them safely before now!

? Traumatic experience

Dogs can have a wide range of different personality traits, and shyness is one of them.

These dogs may be aggressive or fearful. They may have a fear of strangers and/or other dogs, or they might be anxious in certain situations. In some cases, your dog may even have a fear of loud noises such as thunder or fireworks. If you’re concerned that your dog could be experiencing any of these issues, talk to your veterinarian about it now!


Shy dogs can be just as loving and loyal as any other dog, but they may need some extra love and attention. If you’re dealing with a shy dog, here are some tips on how to make them feel more comfortable around people:

timid dog
Photo credits: Jorge Zapata

? Introduce slowly.

Now you’re ready to introduce yourself, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t approach or corner your dog. You also want to avoid staring at her and crowding her space. If you’re doing any of these things, then it’s time to back off.

When introducing yourself, try “sitting” next to the dog and being quiet so she can get used to your scent (she’ll be able to smell you from where she is). Next time, move a little closer and repeat the process until she gets used to having a person around her.

? Make sure she can’t escape.

Because a shy dog may be frightened of new people and unfamiliar spaces, it’s important to keep the dog contained while you’re working with her. You should have some sort of leash or harness on hand so that you can quickly grab her if she starts to make a break for it.

Be sure to stay alert as well. If your shy pup does decide to bolt, she’ll do so quite suddenly, so be ready for that!

? Be careful with handling.

As with any dog, you should be gentle and patient when handling a shy dog. They might be scared of being touched or held, so try to limit the amount of handling they receive. Don’t force them into a harness or collar by grabbing at them, pulling on their body, or tugging at their neck.

Shy dogs can also be wary of toys, especially if they are being held by someone else while playing with them first (which could lead to an uncomfortable experience). Make sure that you play gently with your shy dog’s toys until he gets used to them. If possible, let your shy dog chase after his own toy rather than chase after him yourself. This way he won’t feel threatened by another creature coming toward him too quickly!

? Don’t chase or corner your dog.

When you’re trying to help a shy dog, your actions can make all the difference. Don’t corner or chase your dog: that will only increase their anxiety and make things worse. If you gently approach them, stay calm and avoid making sudden movements. Try to establish eye contact with your pet so that they know you’re there for them.

If at any point your puppy seems uncomfortable or scared of being touched, back off immediately! Never grab at a dog in an attempt to restrain them either; this could make them more aggressive towards humans. Never try placing the animal in a cage or restraining it with a leash. This will only frighten them further!

? Don’t crowd her space.

The best way to work with a shy dog is to give them time to get comfortable. Don’t crowd her space, and don’t make sudden movements or eye contact. Let her come to you when she feels safe and ready.

Don’t try to pet her until she is comfortable, which may take some time (or may never happen). If you want to learn more about your dog’s body language so that you can understand when it’s okay for you to touch them.

If your shy dog does not want something (for instance if he doesn’t like being brushed), do not force him into doing it anyway just because “it’s good for him.” This will only make him feel more anxious in the future and could lead him towards developing anxiety-related issues.

? Be careful with new toys and treats.

It’s important to be careful with new toys and treats. If a shy dog is overwhelmed by a toy, your best move is to take it away and try again later. Similarly, if the dog isn’t ready for treats, don’t force them into eating. You risk making things worse by pushing your pup into an uncomfortable situation.

? Approach slowly.

It’s important to approach your dog slowly and be patient.

>>Don’t rush in.

This is especially true if you’re visiting your dog at home, where he’s familiar with the environment and smells of his owner. Your shy dog may be more comfortable if you enter his space gradually, so instead of running into a room full-speed, try walking through the doorway at a normal pace.

>>Don’t stare.

Avoid staring at your dog directly or making sudden movements when you’re approaching her. It could startle her and make her feel threatened or uncomfortable around you.

>>Don’t be aggressive

If she’s not touching your hand when she sees it outstretched toward her, don’t force it on her or try to pick her up (unless there are extenuating circumstances). Some dogs will never let anyone touch them unless they’re comfortable doing so themselves; others have been abused by people touching them without permission before and will lash out if someone tries again now.[1][2] Either way, showing respect for what the dog wants is key!

? Avoid eye contact.

As mentioned, staring may intimidate your dog. When you are with your dog, don’t stare at her. It can be intimidating and make her feel uncomfortable, especially if she’s a shy dog.

Don’t peer over or under your dog’s head when she is sitting down. This can be seen as aggressive behavior to some dogs, who may take it as an act of dominance or challenge by another animal trying to get above them in order to attack them from behind (which if you think about it sounds crazy).

Don’t look at your sleeping pup either! She doesn’t need any extra attention that might wake her up from a peaceful slumber. She needs rest so she can stay calm and relaxed around other people and pets.

? Give her space to retreat when she’s ready.

You should also realize that it’s normal for a shy dog to hide or retreat when she first meets you. Let her space out and come back when she feels more comfortable. Don’t crowd her, don’t chase after her, and don’t corner her. Just let her come to you on her own terms when she is ready. You might have to repeat this process several times before your shy dog starts to warm up to you more easily, but once she does it will make all the difference in building trust between the two of you!

Finally, keep in mind that it’s important not to force eye contact with your shy pup at first (especially if they’re new). If they come over at their own pace and are happy enough just sitting near or next to you without needing any physical contact, then great! But if not, and especially if they seem very anxious, it’s best not to try forcing anything at all until later in your relationship together (or even later still).

? Shy dogs need extra attention and care.

Dogs who are shy or fearful may not receive the attention they need. If a dog is shying away from interactions, it’s natural to think that they want you to leave them alone. However, this is not the case with every situation and there are many reasons why a shy dog might be more comfortable interacting with you if there’s less commotion going on around them.

Shy dogs often end up in shelters because of their behavior, which makes them prime targets for abuse by those who see it as an easy way out of caring for a pet. Whether or not this has happened to your own shy dog lies somewhere between unlikely and impossible to know without asking someone who knows him well. But, either way, it’s important that you give him extra love and attention so he knows he’s safe with you!


? What do I do if my shy dog runs away from me?

You can’t force a shy dog to approach you. It’s not going to happen. You’ll only make it worse if you try, and then the dog will associate being approached by its owner with something negative, which will make it all the more difficult for your pup to relax around people in general.

Here are some simple steps that can help:

  • Don’t chase your shy dog or try to grab it when it runs away from you.
  • Don’t try to make eye contact with the pup or talk to him/her.
  • Don’t approach your pup or move towards him/her until he/she calms down on his own accord and feels comfortable enough with you nearby (and vice versa).

? Why does my dog show her teeth when she’s shy but scared?

If your dog’s teeth are showing, it’s likely to be a sign of aggression. Dogs use their teeth to defend themselves when they’re feeling threatened or scared: it’s an instinct. So if your dog is showing its teeth, it may just be trying to tell you that something is up and it doesn’t feel comfortable there.

That said, not all dogs show their teeth while growling. Some only open their mouths slightly while making noises in the back of their throats, or even close them so that only the tips of the canines are visible. This can be confusing sometimes: if you’re not familiar with this behavior in dogs (which can vary from breed to breed), then it might seem like your pet is smiling at you! However, once again: don’t touch them or approach them too quickly. Just slow down and make sure they aren’t upset because someone has been approaching too quickly before!

? How can I help my dog become more confident?

Here are the ways how to make your timid dog more confident.

  • Socialize your dog.
  • Teach your dog commands.
  • Give your dog a job.
  • Get your dog a companion, if possible.
  • Take your dog to a dog park or other place where there are other dogs, such as the local vet’s office or pet supply store parking lot (never leave them alone).

? How much exercise does a shy dog need?

As a timid dog tends to feel more comfortable in their own space, they may find it harder to interact with other dogs or humans. This can lead them to become depressed and stressed. Exercise is an important part of keeping your timid dog fit. But for shy dogs, it’s especially important because it can help them build confidence and be more social.

If you have a shy dog it’s best not to keep them locked up at home all day without any stimulation! You should spend time playing games with your dog and taking them on walks so they are able to socialize with other dogs while still feeling safe in your presence.


By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to helping a timid dog feel more comfortable around people. Remember that every dog is different and may need different approaches. If you start seeing improvement in your own situation, make sure to celebrate!

If your dog is in pain and you want to help it to relax, check out our next article. Just click here!