Five best ways to train a shy, nervous young dog

Whether or not a young dog will outgrow his present nervous and shy temperament depends largely on your handling and training. It is quite common for young dogs that were perfectly friendly as pups to start developing these characteristics as they grow older and approach adolescence. These dogs need careful handling to establish their confidence.

Temperament is to a very large extent an inherited quality, but the part of training and environment also plays a very important role.

Here are five very effective ways to build up a young dog's confidence.

(1) The most important quality you must have in training a shy, nervous young dog is patience. There must be no suggestion of irritability or bad temper when you set out to train a nervous dog. It is self-defeating and counter-productive. A display of bad temper on your part could set your training back weeks, or even months. If for any reason you happen to be in a bad mood on the day you decide to attempt training the timid dog, rather delay your training until some other time. It can be irritating and frustrating to train a nervous dog but you have to show the utmost self-control.

(2) It is a good idea to take your dog with you, on leash, to areas where there is plenty of traffic and where there is a lot of bustle and commotion. Introduce him gradually to this environment, which he might find upsetting initially. Speak to him reassuringly, but definitely do not try and fuss over him. Make light of anything that appears to be worrying him. Whatever you do, don’t use baby talk with him otherwise he will regard this behavior on your part as confirmation that this nervous behavior is acceptable.

(3) Stop to speak to friends. Don't encourage them to pet your dog at first. Ask them to avoid making eye contact with your dog on the first few occasions you speak to friends. Ask them to ignore the dog and concentrate on speaking to you

After you have done this on a number of occasion,l you can ask your friends to casually drop a tasty treat next to them so that the dog smell it and eat it. At a later stage they can offer your dog the treat from their hands. Your dog will eventually come to realise that strangers present no threat. This will represent a breakthrough. But it's a gradual process.

(4) It goes without saying that you should never use physical force with a sensitive animal. If it is necessary for you to reprimand him you can do so adequately by expressing disapproval with suitable sound – like “Phooey”. It is not necessary to shout. In fact it’s hardly every necessary to shout in training. You should only do so in exceptional circumstances.

(5) Although you should certainly never strike your dog it is an excellent idea to handle him roughly in play –but let him know that it is play not a reprimand on your part. Play with him boisterously. If this is done in a friendly spirit he will welcome this form of play not resent it. It will go a long way to establishing a happy relationship of trust between your and your dog and this is an important factor in self-confidence.

Regard the training of a shy, timid young dog as a challenge. If you are prepared to be patient in your training and not expect results overnight, you will eventually succeed. It will be a very rewarding experience to know that you have been able to change the character of a nervous, adolescent young animal into a confident, outgoing adult dog.

Article by: Dennis Fisher

Australian Pet Brands | Ingleburn 12 Williamson Road, Ingleburn NSW 2565 Australia | p: +61 2 9605 7377 | f: +61 2 9605 9564 | e: enquiries@austpetbrands.com.au