Thursday, April 26, 2012

Helping Those Canine Wallflowers Bloom

From: ASPCA Professional
Everyone’s heart breaks for the shy dogs. Just look at this video of an extremely under-socialized young pit bull at a shelter. The enormous pupils, the lip pulled back in a fearful grimace, the furrowed brow, the trembling muscles. The first thing most people want to do when they see such a dog is to march straight into the kennel and give her lots of pets and cuddles. Surely if you show a frightened dog enough love, she’ll respond in kind?

Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. In fact, it’s usually easier to win over a shy dog by playing hard to get, rather than by smothering her with affection. Here are some tips for helping these guys come out of their shells: 
  •  Try squatting down with your body sideways to the dog. 
  • Look down or away, and keep your body language quiet and calm. 
  • Scatter treats on the floor around you, so that the dog can self-reward without any social pressure from you. 
  • Do not pet the dog until she is begging for attention. 
  • Sometimes just sitting in a corner of the kennel reading a book will allow the dog to approach at her own speed. 
  • Avoid looming over, reaching a hand down from above, approaching quickly and frontally, even making direct eye contact, can be frightening for shy dogs.
It may take a number of repetitions of the above techniques to get into a shy dog’s “club,” but the rewards are worth it. And good news—the pit bull in the video came around in a couple of weeks and was adopted.

Plant the seeds for making your wallflowers bloom by sharing this post with your colleagues or bringing it to your next staff and/or volunteer meeting. And if you’ve found additional ways to coax shy dogs at your shelter out of their shells, leave a comment.
Link to article.

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