Two things play a part in the creation of a shy dog — Genetics and Environment. Shyness can appear because of the genetic predispositions of sire and dam. Then the environment kicks in. If shy dogs are not handled properly during their formative years, their shy traits are exacerbated.
There is no one more loving than a shy dog who has learned to trust. There is nothing more satisfying than watching the day-by-day growth of a dog who at one time wouldn’t look at you, or trembled if you came near. Your patience and persistence will pay off ten-fold in a dog who worships the ground you walk on. Who could ask for more?
There are levels of shy. A shy dog combines all or parts of the dictionary’s definition — timid, bashful, cautious, wary. In a shyer dog, sometimes labeled a ‘spook,’ all these traits are present, just a bit more intensified. Sometimes people mistake an insecure dog for a shy dog. In my opinion, insecure dogs fall into another category; dogs that feel unsafe and unsure about their surroundings, and who can react aggressively when scared.
Additionally, some greyhounds are neither shy or insecure, just tentative about their new surroundings. Imagine if aliens abducted you, and placed you, without ceremony, in a brand new environment, with new rules and things you’d never seen before in your life — TVs, mirrors, children, cats… It would take you a bit of time, and probably a psychiatrist, to feel secure and OK about this new situation. It takes most greyhounds very little time, and no professional help, usually, to adjust.
What You Can Do
1. Keep a calm voice, calm demeanor, and a calm household
2. Show confidence in all your movements and commands
3. Lots of petting, even if you have to corner the dog sometimes
4. Establish bonding, for example, car rides, walks, treats, TV watching, sleeping in same room
5. Maintain a routine. Feed the same time, same way. Walks, same time, same way.
6. Don’t rush.
7. Bribery (treats!)
8. Exuberant praise, for every little thing
9. Holistic remedies—aromatherapy, herbals, homeopathy—can help
Once they trust and love you, they will be open to many more experiences with you. If you have another happy, confident dog, they will take the lead from that dog and grow in confidence.
Greyhound Gang has a booklet – Shy Greyhounds Steal Your Heart – detailing the best homes and best way to help these hounds in their new lives filled with love.
Basically , these hounds need quiet homes (no young children, lots of activity) with other dogs, preferably confident greyhounds, around them. A shy dog should never be an only dog.