His bark is worse than his bite!
Those of us who are used to dogs can find meeting a new one easy and we know how to make them feel comfortable and happy. Some people, who perhaps aren’t used to dogs or have negative experiences, may not find this as easy, something the dog will pick up on.
Introducing your dog to a new environment or new people can be stressful but it doesn’t need to be. If the situation is handled with patience, awareness and care, it can be an enjoyable experience without either party hiding or barking / shrieking.
Your dog deserves to have ample gratifying social interactions, so here are a few things you can do to increase its confidence. Just be sure to make it a steady process and introduce your dog in a comfortable and non-threatening way when visitors come knocking.
The Quiet Before the Storm
If a new person is visiting your home, you should keep your dog confined until everyone is settled in and sitting down. When you’re ready to let your dog out check that it is ok with your visitor first and make them aware of what to expect when your dog enters. When doing so it is perfectly normal for 5-15 mins of excitable barking, jumping and sniffing while your dog familiarises itself with everyone, but once they are done they will be ready for a nice calm petting session.
Making the First Move
Don’t! When it comes to other people’s dogs, your mother did know best; never approach or pet a stranger’s dog without first checking with the owner that it is ok. The same rule applies to this situation. If the dog is friendly and wants to interact with visitors they certainly won’t be shy. If they are unsociable or have been glaring at you from across the room since you arrived, best to just let them be. Who knows, they may feel more comfortable with you next time.
Every Canine Likes a Treat
Without making eye contact with your dog, get your visitor to hold out your dog’s favourite treat or scatter a few on the floor nearby. This way, your dog can familiarise themselves with the new smells, which will make them much more comfortable with the person.
Only The Good Shall Be Rewarded
It is important to maintain a clear relationship with your dog and that good behaviour equals a well-earned treat. If you reward your dog for shyness you will hinder their progress and they will probably remain this way towards visitors their entire life, something that may cause your dog a lot of stress in the future.
If your dog finds the offered treats desirable, he or she will eventually feel confident enough to approach the new person all by itself, but how much time this takes will depend upon your dog’s personality. This is not a process to rush because that may only make your dog's feelings of fear or shyness worse.
By following these few simple tips and best practices, you can help your dog to overcome its fear and shyness and enjoy being fussed when they meet someone new.
Have you experienced something similar? We’d love to hear your tips on Twitter at @hilifedog or Facebook.