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Socializing a (very) timid new puppy

OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
My wife and I just brought home a 10-week-old puppy from the shelter, and she's very, very shy. Physically she seems okay--clean ears, smooth/shiny coat, normal nose, etc. She was just spayed a couple days ago, could this be a contributing factor? She'll be going to the vet tomorrow or the next day, most likely.

In any case, any advice on how we should go about warming her up to us and bringing her out of her shell? So far we've just been leaving her be, letting her get used to her new home, but she's basically staked out a corner and just wants to lie there.

Any tips, reassurances, or hard medicine would be appreciated.

OremLK on


  • CooterTKECooterTKE Registered User
    edited May 2008
    my wife and I made sure to play with our puppy when ever they are not sleeping. We also take him every where and are getting ready for puppy class.

    CooterTKE on
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    spay is defiitely a big factor, when we got our pup, she had just been spayed and was still a little doped up, she could be sore, or still under pain meds.
    just give her some time to relax and get used to things

    you can getting her to play with you, but i wouldn't force anything at this point. just the process of you feeding her will get her to open up to you, it just takes some time. you can also keep some treats/kibble on you and if she comes up for scratches you can praise her and treat.

    definitely try and socialize her with other friendly dogs if possible. keep interactions limited and don't be afraid to step in and pull her out if it seems like she is overwelmed, you need to convince her that you will be there to protect her.

    some dogs require a gentle persausion rather than forcefullness.

    also get her started doing things now that you would want her to do when she is bigger.

    for example. going on the couch, sleeping in your bed, walking good, beggin at the table etc. once you let them get away with stuff at an early age it becomes impossible to break when they are 60lbs and sleeping on your legs.

    mts on
  • RubickRubick Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    What you're doing is right - leaving her be and letting her get used to her surroundings. All dogs react differently to change, as well as possibly missing their littermates when they are removed from them. I would start by having a piece of cloth/clothing near her that smells like you - like an old t-shirt. Let her sleep on it and get used to your smell. It's cool to pet her and talk to her in soothing tones and try to play, but don't get upset if she doesn't want to. Eventually she'll start perking up and coming out of her corner. Her personality could be one of shy/not very active nature. Your vet will probably have more suggestions as well.

    Rubick on
  • RubickRubick Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Oh ... and pics please!

    Rubick on
  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Yes, I do know about the rule about the pics, and I would have posted them in the OP if I could. Digital camera broken, no camera phone.

    Thanks for all the advice. I'm glad to hear the spay may be partly at fault.

    OremLK on
  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Pics, please! :D

    If you literally just got her, the unfamiliarity of her new home and the spay is probably a big part of it. She's probably thinking, "Whoa, what now?"

    After you think the soreness has worn off from spaying, try to engage her in play and make friends with her . . . Roll a tennis ball around, feed her treats, crouch or kneel so you're down on her level and look less like a huge, scary giant. ;) After she's comfortable with you, you can start socializing her with strangers by having friends come over. If she's shy at first, just have the friends sit and talk while she can observe them at a distance, then eventually have them feed her treats. Also with dogs, if you know any friend with friendly dogs who won't overwhelm her.

    But be careful about going to other places with her, like parks, until she's had all her shots.

    Don't worry too much, my shelter-puppy started out shy too, but we socialized her and trained her and she ended up a very outgoing, gregarious dog. :) (Good for you for adopting from a shelter, BTW!)

    LadyM on
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    also socialize her to the doorbell. trust me, it will be for the best

    mts on
  • TrowizillaTrowizilla Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    If she's from the shelter, the sheer size of her new home may be intimidating her. Dogs like to have a den where they can feel safe rather than big open spaces. You could try getting her a crate (you don't have to shut the door on her or anything) just big enough for her to stand up and lie down flat and put a comfy dog bed and a couple of toys in there; if you want a bigger crate she can use when she's older, block off most of it for now. It'll help her feel more secure to have a place that's "her's," and it'll help with her toilet training, since most dogs don't like to poo where they sleep.

    Trowizilla on
  • BishizelBishizel Registered User
    edited May 2008
    I would say the spaying is probably the biggest factor. When my girlfriend and I got our dog neutered, we'd already had him for several months, and he still just sat around for about a week sulking. So don't worry about that, it's natural.

    Did she get spayed before you took her home, or did you take her home and then get her spayed?

    If it was before you took her home, then just give her about a week. Feed her, pet her a bit, maybe give her some treats. It'll take a bit, a new family, a new home, and getting spayed is a pretty jarring experience for a puppy.

    If you took her home first, then got her spayed almost immediately afterwards, it might cause some trust issues for a while until you can get her to warm up to you. I'd basically give you the same advice as the paragraph above. One other important thing to note is that when a dog is in that much pain, they may not respond much to petting or other affection, and this is normal, even with a dog you've had for a long time.

    Also, and this is HUGE, give her a couple of unwashed tshirts from you and your wife (not really dirty, just enough for the smell) and put them where the dog sleeps. Scent plays a big role with dogs, and when the dog is constantly smelling those shirts as a pup as they're sleeping (a time when they feel safe), they'll more quickly associate you with safety, and think of you as parents of sorts. This is by far the best piece of advice I've received about dogs. (Dogs sleep in a pile, and are constantly exposed to the scent of their family this way as pups, it basically simulates that.)
    Other than that, if she lets you pick her up (be careful until she's healed), put her in your laps as she's falling asleep, it generates more of the safety thing.

    Sorry the thoguts are so scattered, I'm tired and I just typed the paragraphs out as I remembered more things. Hope it helps.

    Bishizel on
  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Hey, thanks for all the advice, much appreciated. She was indeed spayed before we got her (a couple days ago, we just brought her home today).

    She's already warming up to us a more--eating out of our hands, showing interest in us, etc. We got her a crate, which she's happily lying around in, and we'll try the shirt thing tomorrow. Seems like sound advice.

    OremLK on
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    My little chunk of advice. If she's a shy puppy you may want to be careful that she doesn't develop separation anxiety. Cocker Spaniels are more prone to it but any dog can get there. A good way to curb it is to not make a big fuss when leaving/coming home. Don't say good bye, don't greet her on coming home. If she's crated when home alone leave her for a few minutes before letting her out.

    Also - as above stated, you may want to not walk/go to the park with her til she's older. It's Parvo season and you don't want to play with that. See if the shelter started her on her Parvo shots and if not, start them.


    Elin on
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  • An-DAn-D Content Editor RaleighRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    One of my shiba inus did the same thing when we first got her. Now, she loves it when strangers come over. Sweetest little dog ever.

    When she was a puppy she would hide under a chair in our living room (it was raised up a foot or so, so we could see her. She just wanted something over her, I guess), so we would sit next to her and just gently pet her while watching tv. We would also hand-feed her little broken up treats to gain a bit of trust. Within a week, she was wagging her tail everytime she saw us and openly playing with a soccer ball that was about the same size that she was.

    Also, if you haven't already, get her a dog crate. Its good to crate-train them while they're young and when they get older, they sometimes like having a little space where they can get away from everything. Also it helps fight separation anxiety and prevents them from tearing up the house while you're gone.

    An-D on
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  • Enos316Enos316 Registered User
    edited May 2008
    My $0.02 here would be to begin to walk the dog as soon as you can as well (after recovering from the surgery). It has been my experience (and also constant advice on the Dog Whisperer) that taking your dog for daily walks is not only good for your health but it helps put the dog in a better state of mind.

    Usually anywhere from 30-40 minutes a day is optimal. Good luck!

    Enos316 on
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