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    Dog Anxiety Training: How to Socialize a Dog or Puppy

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Training a shy or anxious dog is important not only for the happiness and health of the animal but also for safety. Shy or anxious dogs are more likely to bite or show other signs of aggression, so it is important to train a shy or anxious dog as soon as possible.

    Here are some tips about how to train a shy or anxious dog with socialization training techniques and relaxation.

    Dog Training and Socialization

    Early socialization is important to training a dog and preventing aggressive or shy displays of behavior. Poor socialization is one of the most frequent causes of shy or anxious behavior in dogs, so it is important to expose your dog at an early age to other animals and people of different sizes, shapes, and colors. Some dogs that are aggressive toward children may behave this way because they were never socialized with children. Similarly, dogs that chase or even kill cats or other small dogs may feel threatened by these animals and feel the need to act out their instinctual territorial behavior if they are not accustomed to these other types of animals.

    Here are some quick tips for how to socialize your puppy:

    • Take your dog on daily walks.
    • Socialize your dog within the first 3 to 12 weeks of life by introducing your puppy to new people and animals. Puppies are more likely to accept new and different people, animals, places, and objects during this time.
    •  Frequently take your puppy to a dog park so that the puppy can interact with other dogs and people, and walk your puppy often.
    • Consider a further study of obedience training for your dog to further ingrain the socialization training.
    • Make socialization experiences positive for your puppy by giving your puppy lots of attention, praise, and the occasional treat. Socialization only works if the dog has a good experience with the new people, places or things, and it is possible to instill negative socialization in a puppy or dog, as you may see in dogs that have been abused or neglected. These types of dogs may need more intense socialization training to reverse any negative socialization habits they may have developed from past experiences.
    • Adult dogs older than 1 year who have not been socialized develop caution, shyness or fear about new experiences.

    Trauma in dogs and relaxation

    If a dog has received forceful training or has been mistreated in a negative way, the dog may become shy or fearful of humans and will require lots of patience and love to reverse the negative effects. To help your dog relax and reverse trauma of past experiences, you must build your dog's confidence by rewarding desired behaviors, giving verbal praise and the occasional treat. Here are some tips to help your dog relax:

    To stop unwanted behavior in a traumatized dog, either ignore the behavior or use a clear but gentle command, such as "No". Yelling at an already-traumatized dog will create more trauma and have a negative effect.

    Sit with your dog for 10 to 20 minutes per day in a relaxed and quite environment and reward your dog for relaxed, calm behavior. Gentle petting or massage during this time can help the dog relax even more and will strengthen the bond between yourself and the dog. After about a week of this routine, gradually begin adding small distractions such as quietly clapping your hands or snapping. This will help your dog establish a pattern of calm and controlled responses to these unexpected noises or events.

    Once your dog has established a pattern of relaxation, expose the dog to small amounts of whatever makes him fearful, such as strange people, animals or places, and accompany that exposure with a tasty treat, verbal praise, and other gentle, positive reinforcement. For example, if your dog is afraid of loud noises but loves bacon, expose the dog to loud noise at the same time you give the dog bacon. This creates a link so that the dog associates the negative experience of loud noise with the positive experience of bacon.

    Praise your dog whenever an obstacle is overcome, no matter how small you think it may be.

    Reversing trauma and counter-conditioning in dogs happens over time. If you are patient and loving, your dog can be trained to overcome shy or anxious behavior.