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Shyness

The Shy Chihuahua

Chihuahua under the bed
Is Your Chihuahua Shy?

Because each dog will have their own personality, some dogs may just be quiet. Others, outgoing. Others a little bit crazy ! Let’s first discuss how to know if a Chihuahua is technically shy. 

A shy Chihuahua will show physical symptoms. The dog’s ears will lie back against the head, the dog’s pupils may become dilated, the dog may pant when there is no need, tuck its tail between its legs and avoid all eye contact.

Does your Chihuahua do this? If so, then your dog is shy.

A dog that is fearful and not just shy will urinate out of fear, run from people or other dogs and/or show extreme submission such as exposing their belly. If a frightened dog cannot run, they may then show aggression. Therefore biting, barking and growling could be signs of a dog that is very scared.
How To Train a Shy Chihuahua

There is training for a shy Chihuahua that will be successful if followed and if an owner is patient enough to allow this slow, gradual conditioning to work.  

The best way to help a shy dog is to show him that there is nothing to be wary about. Never comfort your dog, this will be perceived as your confirmation that there is indeed things to be timid of.

The general gist of this sort of training is to show a dog that shy behavior is not punished; yet it brings no benefits at all.

Conversely, interest and curiosity that nudges a dog to become a bit braver will bring him benefits.
It is best to ignore your dog’s shy behaviors similar to fixing clingy behavior Go about your business with a happy tone to your voice. Show your dog that “all if just fine”.

If at any time, your dog shows behavior of interest or curiosity with the trigger that caused the shy reaction… praise your dog as if they just did something extremely wonderful. Give treats, talk in a happy, proud tone, and pat your Chi.

Timid Behavior With Guests

If your dog is particularly shy when guests come over, you will want to use desensitize training with your dog. This can be done by having a guest come over for just 10 to 15 minutes per day. Increase the time very slowly over the course of several weeks. 

Whenever your dog acts shy, both people must ignore him.  100% completely and utterly ignore him.  This will actually set off a chain of events that will help the Chihuahua come out of his shell. 

There will be times that the Chi prefers to remain alone, often watching from a distance. Though, when humans ignore the dog - not trying to coax him out or pay any attention to him - something happens now and again... Curiosity will take over.  When the atmosphere is calm, without any pressure to show himself or perform - a shy dog often on his own will venture out to see what is happening. 

You see, when a timid dogs knows that there are no eyes on him, he will then feel safer to inspect things, to come a bit closer to hear conversations, to peer over to hands to see if they hold any treats.  If he can smell a particular food, this will insure that he will be inquisitive about exactly where it is and how to go about getting it. 

The key to this, is to make sure that the dog does indeed receive confirmation that there is a treat for him.  Plan this with your guest in advance.  As soon as he or she enters the premises, indiscreetly give that friend a treat for just this moment. Have one in your hand as well.  

A crispy piece of bacon works amazingly well for this type of training. Pre-cooked microwave bacon - with grease blotted out via paper towels - is only 40 calories a slice.  With both people holding a 1/2 slice, this is 20 calories for each treat. 

As the Chi - insecure as he is - slowly comes over to sniff or see just what you are both holding, without saying his name or making a big deal out of things, each of you can extend your hand and allow the Chihuahua to retrieve the snack from whomever he wishes. 
Afterward, go back to the conversation and allow your puppy or dog to do as he wishes. On this first attempt, he may very well bring the food back to his little corner or his special bed.  

After several visits in which this same thing is done, add on the element of giving praise for taking the treat.  It can also help to have it be a treat one time and a new toy the next, to keep the curiosity level high. 

This will allow the Chihuahua to associate something good (snack or toy) with a 'stranger' speaking to him.  The next time,  a gentle pat can be added. The next time, a fun new squeaky ball can be rolled, with quiet yet enthusiastic encouragement to play.

This way, on his own terms, a puppy or dog will begin to make the association that being shy does not cause anything negative to happen, but being a tad more outgoing and summoning the courage to greet a guest brings about very good things. 

In time, a Chihuahua will 'forget' that he was shy. The arrival of guests is a fun event!  Tasty treats are given, new toys are brought, fun play is initiated.  Life couldn't be better. 

Shyness in Public 

A dog's world can be very small. If he is afraid of just about everything when venturing out or is not given the opportunity to overcome his shyness to explore the world, his environment will be very limited.

The more that dogs experience, the less shy they should be.  A dog that is inside most of the time will usually show shy behavior when faced with the outside world.  Just seeing different types of people or hearing new noises can make him skittish.
For a dog to be very outgoing, he must have a wide range of outside stimulus. A dog should be brought to many places and meet many people and different animals. This makes a Chi become more sociable and slowly yet steadily become well behaved.  It is best if a puppy - after all puppy shots are complete - is gradually exposed to the world.  

However, a dog of any age - if this is done slowly and incrementally - can learn to be brave. 
Keep in mind, that your feelings about this matter as well. Chihuahuas are amazing at reading their owner's body language and picking up on moods. If you feel worried for your dog or are nervous about how he will react, he can pick up on that, which really works against the training. 

Each week, bring your Chihuahua somewhere new. Never force the issue and plan for an outing to only last 10 to 15 minutes unless you see signs that your dog wishes to continue.

Bring your dog to as many different places as you can and expose him to a variety of situations. Some good places to go and things to do with your Chihuahua are:
  • The park (choose a quiet, less frequented park if the puppy is super shy)
  • Stores (many pet stores allow dogs inside); other stores will allow a toy dog if he/she is in a carrier or bag.
  • Hiking around a lake or river
  • For car rides where the destination involves a little picnic
  • Take walks on different routes and do not stay with the same paths each day
  • Play Frisbee in the park one day and play catch in your friend’s yard the next. 
  • Visit the local farmer's market or flea market
  • Take a short walk around an outdoor mall
The more that a dog sees of the outside world, the better he will feel secure in that world. 

Most of all, remember that shyness can take quite a while to get over. It is a slow process. Just a person can be very shy as a child and then as life exposes them to situations, they may become an outgoing adult…so may a Chihuahua.
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