Waiting wholeheartedly for the little dog to become accustomed

東方日報專欄 Oriental Daily Column (2014-09-04)

Original article from Oriental Daily.

mingpao

(Article written by Cactus. English translation edited by Sally from HKDR)

‘Why does the dog always hide from me? I love her so much and treat her so well, it’s really frustrating.”

This is quite a common question asked by adopters wondering why their new dog doesn’t want to interact with them, hides under furniture all the time or even barks at particular family members, usually male. Some people believe these dogs must have been abused in the past, particularly by a man, although that’s not necessarily the case. The fear could be due to a lack of early socialisation or just inborn shyness, and men tend to be more frightening just because of their “maleness”. Although we don’t know the history of every rescued dog it’s quite possible to bring the timid ones out of their shells if you are patient enough, whatever their past might have been.

It may sound strange, but “less is more” is the best method when it comes to settling a shy dog. Consciously removing your attention from the dog is actually more effective than enthusiastically approaching her or giving her too much attention. If you were a shy dog arriving in a new environment, would you want to be constantly scrutinised and followed, or to be able to stay away and quietly observe? Once a dog feels secure in its chosen space, most will become curious enough to slowly explore the environment. It is much better for dog parents to wait patiently for the dog to initiate any approach than the other way round. Establishing a regular daily routine and removing any stimulus that might make it nervous is important in helping a dog to adjust to its new life too.

Gradually you will find that your dog is more willing to stay closer to you, and seems happy when you are at home. Sometimes the change can happen overnight although it may take months to see the result, and while she may always be shy at heart, seeing a timid dog making progress no matter how tiny it is is the most rewarding experience. Only people who are willing to adopt such a dog will know this joy.

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