Features August 2008 Issue

Socializing a Shy Dog

Socializing a pathologically shy dog is a challenge (but it's worth it).

Somewhere at this very moment, perhaps at a shelter near you, a frightened dog huddles in the back of her kennel, trembling, terrified by a chaotic overload of sensory stimuli: sights, smells, and sounds that are far beyond her ability to cope. Somewhere, today, a warmhearted, caring person is going to feel sorry for this dog - or one similar - believing that love will be enough to rehabilitate the frightened canine. Sometimes, it is. More often, though, the compassionate adopter finds herself with a much larger project than she bargained for. While shelters can a prime source for frightened and shy dogs, they are certainly not the only source. Pet stores, puppy mills, rescue groups, and irresponsible breeders (even some who breed top quality show dogs) can all be guilty of foisting off temperamentally unsound (due to genetics/nature) or under-socialized (due to environment/nurture) puppies and adult dogs on unprepared adopters.

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