Many people use the term “Shy” to describe fearful dogs and cats. This “shyness”, which is most often a fear of strangers or being handled, can also refer to fear of unfamiliar places or people. It can be mild fear of certain people or very severe fear of many things.
Adopting a shy cat or dog requires a special type of person. It takes patience to care for a shy cat or dog. Although the results may not be apparent immediately, they can be a blessing in disguise. Most shy cats and dogs will bond with their owners and become affectionate and loving companions, even when they are timid.
Why are some cats and dogs shy?
Fear can be triggered by genetics or past bad experiences. Many cats and dogs are afraid because they didn’t have enough positive experiences as kittens or puppies. We mean that puppies and kittens go through an extraordinary learning phase when they are young. For puppies, this period lasts between three and five months. It ends for kittens around 12-14 weeks. This is a time when kittens and puppies can have many happy, safe experiences with other animals, sounds, objects, places, and people.
People who love and live with pets need to learn to read their body language. This is especially true for shy pets. Most dogs and cats who are shy will hide and retreat. But sometimes, their expressions of shyness may be subtle. It is important to read body language and understand how your dog or cat feels. Some cats and dogs are shy and will “shut down” when someone approaches them. People mistakenly think that the animal is in a good mood, when in fact he or she is under a lot of stress.
How to deal with shyness in pets
One key ingredient to working with shy cats or dogs is to let them move at their own pace. Pushing timid pets into fearful situations is scary. It can also make their fear worse and increase their risk of becoming aggressive. If pushed too hard, some shy cats and dogs will bite or scratch.
Adopting a shy pet is a good idea. Give him his own space away from the rest of the house. You can provide him with water and a comfortable bed, and then serve him meals. Allow him to adjust to the family’s sounds and smells. Although it may take some time for shy cats and dogs to adjust, eventually they will be able to go on short trips. These trips become longer as their comfort level improves. A relationship-based behavior professional can help you if your cat or dog is afraid and won’t leave his hiding place for any reason.
Use food to encourage the animal to make happy associations with people, places, sounds, sights, and other animals. You can start hand-feeding if he refuses to eat.
Friendly members of their species can be an asset to shy pets. Many pets that are timid with people can be playful and comfortable with other dogs or cats. While some dogs are reticent, they will walk on leashes with their canine friends.
Beware of the escape risk
Adopting shy cats or dogs is a risky move. A timid pet that escapes from its owner can make it very difficult for them to be caught. Setting up a safe environment is key to keeping shy cats and dogs from escaping. It is a good idea for shy animals to have “airlocks”, which are placed around exterior doors. This doubles the barrier between them and the outside world. Baby gates and exercise pens can be used to provide additional safety if you don’t have an airlock with two doors. These barriers should be made known to everyone in the household. Windows can be an escape route for animals, so ensure they are closed when possible. Window screens are not often strong enough to safely contain cats and dogs.
Shy cats and dogs can also escape while being transported, especially to a new place. They should be kept in a closed container. All pets should be microchipped. They also need collars that have proper ID. However, it is best to equip a shy cat or dog with a GPS tracking device to help locate him if he runs away. A secure harness or restraint device should be used when walking shy pets.
It is not easy to have a shy cat or dog. It can be difficult and require you to make adjustments to your life to accommodate your animal’s needs. Many shy cats and dogs have discovered that providing a safe place for their pet and watching him progress is a great way to feel secure. Once you gain their trust, you will find that shy cats and dogs can be as affectionate as other pets.