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Scared or shy?


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I'm confused as to whether Lola is just shy or terrified of humans.

Just to give you guys a few scenarios :

1. I live with 2 housemates and they always wanted to cuddle with Lola the way she allows me to. Lola will run away from them the minute they reach out their hands. If she knows they have food in their hands, she'll take the food and then run away. It's getting better nowadays, where she'll play with them or follow them around, but any attempt to pet her, she'll bolt.

2. During her second week of stay, I have friends over for dinners and thought it's a good chance for her to socialize with large groups of humans. She just seems to want nothing to do with them, jumping into my lap if I'm sitting on the floor or hiding under my bed in my room. Nothing I do could coax her out of the bed, not even food. But after a few mins, she'll come to the living room to sneak a peek and if everyone ignores her, she'll come sit by my side and observe. Any indication of other humans wanting to pet her, it's back to under the bed again. This behavior still continues til today.

3. I'm starting to bring her out for short walks these past few weeks. She loves her walks, does pull a little but we're working on that. She'll try to sniff anyone that shows no interest in her, but will pull and try to run like crazy when someone stop and try to pet her, or have a little chat with me.

Am I doing something wrong, or am I not doing something which is causing this behavior?

I want so badly for my housemates to be able to pet her without her struggling like hell to get away.

She also had this weird behavior when playing with my friend's dogs.

Her ears go all the way back, isn't that a indication of fearful?

She'll be in a playbow position, and they are always chasing after one another

And we met this border collie during the walk this afternoon, she was the one who was walking towards it, but when the collie started sniffing at her, she sat down with her tails tucked in, ears back and looking away from the collie. And all of a sudden, she lifted her paws to touch the collie's nose give it a start, and the owner was chuckling, saying she's cute. But is this behavior alright or should I correct her?

Sorry for this long post, but I'm at a total loss....help please? :(

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She is definitely lacking in confidence - it may be partly her age. What she showed to the other dog was classical submissive behavior. How do you react when she acts fearful? I would keep taking her out, and would get her into a puppy class, if possible. When she is fearful. DO NOT fuss over her! Giving attention to the fearful behavior will reinforce it - notice that when you stop trying to coax her out, she comes out on her own. You can hold her and make her allow others to pet her, but act very matter of fact about it, like it's no big deal. After all, it isn't a big deal, is it? It's the most normal thing in the world for her to be petted by other friendly people, and if you treat it that way, and have THEM reward her for it (not you giving the reward) she's most likely to decide it isn't so bad, after all. Good luck!

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Brought her home at 8 weeks old, not a rehome

Had her for 7 weeks, she's 15 weeks old

she's most likely still in a shy puppy phase, Kita was like this until about 5 months old, she was nervous of other dogs, shy of people (except me) but in time her confidence will grow, keep her socialised with people and dogs.

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When she is fearful. DO NOT fuss over her! Giving attention to the fearful behavior will reinforce it

This! I never realised this until just before I got Kita ^_^

I just ignored where when she was in a nervous or fearful state, after time she came out on her own, she will grow in confidence over time :)

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I like Gigi's advice :) Keep socializing her with people and dogs. Try to make the experiences fun and pleasurable. That way she will associate human contact and other dogs with nice, good things. Like Gigi said don't make a fuss or big deal over the fearful behavior or it will only reinforce it. My boy Kuma was a rehome and came to us around 6 months. He is very shy/timid but has been making progress. He acts totally fine and normal with us, a silly Sibe but he is still a bit cautious around people he's unfamiliar with. My friends tend to just ignore him while he is being shy and if he comes over to them they let him sniff their hands. Now he'll let most of them pet him and is getting more confident. Good luck and I'm sure in time your husky will gain confidence.

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My housemates did have similar thoughts like Claire, questioning her experience with humans when she's with her breeder.

I called her up but all I get was "Nah, she's fine with us when she's here" - that's what got me thinking that I might have done something wrong

So relieved to hear that she may be just lacking of confidence - thanks guys!

She just graduated from puppy school a week ago.

Funny thing is she does allow the owners there to pet her, its kinda like her saying you have a dog so okay, you can pet me

I usually just stand still when she's fearful during the walks, she pulls and dashes in all different sorts of direction so its really hard to walk on

Am I adding on to the trauma by not walking on?

Do have to admit that I fusses over her by trying to lure her out from under the bed at home, my bad :P

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Stand still, rather than dragging her. If you can, get her to be near you, and to face what's scary. Give her a chance to look at what she's fearful of, and see that it isn't hurting her. Once again, though, act like whatever it is (unless it really is dangerous!) is no big deal.

There could well be - and likely is - a certain amount of genetics at work, too, as from what I've seen, it's a combination of both nature and nurture. I have 3 littermates, the two girls are quite outgoing, but their brother is shy around strange people - more so at home, than when we're out for a walk. He evidently has enough adrenaline in himself then that he's much braver!

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  • 8 years later...

Poor girl. It is so awesome that you rescued her.

At her age, coming out of a shelter environment, and not knowing exactly what she went through before that, it is going to take a few.

 I would just let her do her thing, give lots of love and praise, and keep things calm. 

It may take her awhile to trust and believe she is finally at home. Be patient with her. Two weeks is no time at all. 

Maybe starting with basic training will help her gain trust in you and her environment. Always set her up for success. The sooner she trust you the sooner she will warm up.

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