Suggestion For Helping a Shy Dog

I adopted a shy dog on August 7, 2004. Unlike most shy dogs, her shyness happened, I am assuming, from being dumped. She began showing up at the church where I worked during the day and night. She slept at the church every night for almost six weeks.


I began leaving her food and water on a nightly basis when it became obivous that she was injured. Whenever anyone tried to approach her, she took off like a bullet. Her right rear hip was injured and she limped badly. Between our local shelter and the neighbors, she was "captured". She had surgery to replace her hip and had broken four of her vertebrate. Oh yes, whoever dumped her, cut her tags off.

She is very loving to those she knows. Once she leaves our home and yard she becomes very scared. She is going to "school" in August. She knows some commands in the home, but, not outside of the home. Through time and training, she no longer lunges at every car that passes her. She also is now pausing to "pea" when she is on her leash which by the way is at a mild run. Clickers scare her and she barks at anyone who walks by or near her.

I took her to park last week and just sat giving her treats. I reassured her constantly with love and treats. She was a shaking mess within ten minutes. I felt so bad for her that I brought her home. She clung to me all night and would not let me out of her sight.

Her name is Faith, she came to the church nightly. She sleeps with me nightly and curls up in my lap when I cross stitch. She is a Jack Russell Beagle mix and has a beautiful smile. Any suggestions you can give me would be helpful.

Betty from Ohio

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April 24, 20050 found this helpful

Hi Betty,
It sounds like you have been doing the all right things. Thank you for taking such good care of Faith. It sounds like she had a rough start. It just takes time and lots of love which you have been giving her. Just keep trying to stretch her safety net by little bits and you should do fine.

Our dog Maggie was found tied to an animal shelter. She was super shy at first and over time has trusted us more and more. She is still very shy around strangers, but I don't really see that as a bad thing because she is plenty friendly with the family.


As with Maggie, it's so hard to know exactly what Faith went through before you got her. Her injuries may have been from abuse or possibly getting hit by a car. It just takes lots of time and understanding for her to trust that you won't abandon her or hurt her. Because she is making progress, just keep doing what you are doing.

Susan from ThriftyFun

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April 24, 20050 found this helpful

You are an angel to Faith! Thank goodness you took her in and made her part of your life.

Everything you're doing sounds good. But take it a little slower. Instead of ten minutes at the park, try just driving near the park for a few days with Faith in the car. If she tolerates that, stop, open the car door, and pet her calmly while she looks around. Next time, take her out of the car for thirty seconds. Etc. Tiny steps.

As for school in August, it's a great idea, but only if you truly think she's ready. If she needs obedience and leash training, you can do it in your home.


Get info from a trainer or a website, and have short training sessions. It sounds like walking on a leash will be one of the important lessons!

Socialization may have to come very, very slowly. She sounds like such a wonderful dog. But she has been traumatized. You seem to have a very good sense of what she needs, and I know you'll do a great job. Go by your own standards -- not what other people think, or what other dogs do.

Thank you again, and again, for rescuing this lady who needs you so desperately.


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By guest (Guest Post)
April 24, 20050 found this helpful

We have both a Beagle and a Jack Russell. The Jack Russell has always gone after anything and everything, big or small. That is part of their nature. Mine is a very affectionate lap dog, but very hard to train to behave in public, too. I think he is just very smart and easily distracted. He gets very clingy at the slightest strange noise (cell phone beeping) and frantically tries to make me hold him. He needs a LOT of reassurance and I have had him for over 4 years -- he was dumped, too, and he wouldn't go two feet from me for months after I got him. He loves to run and play and has a lot of energy.


He always runs on walks and always pulls on his leash. I have tried "don't pull", but he obeys selectively. He has a very one-track mind, but if I get his attention and he looks at me, he will listen. He is finally learning "no barking" when we encounter a neighbor. He actually has a very large vocabulary to the point that we have to spell things. The beagle is another story...slow, into food, obeys very well, very shy (hides behind me when we meet people), but took 1 1/2 years to learn to "sit". All this to say that your dog sounds normal for a dumped Jack Russell and it may take more than a few months for her to relax.

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April 24, 20050 found this helpful

thank you to all of you for your suggestions. They have been wonderful.we have gone to slow mode with Faith. I forgot to mention that she has brothers and sisters who love her dearly. They love to play with one another. I will post pictures later of her and her sibs.


take care

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By sandy (Guest Post)
April 25, 20050 found this helpful

i have one just like faith. her name is ally. tho i got her at the spca. very shy but with time, persistence and patience she is much better. we have been to a behaviorist. when we first went to the park very frightened but now she loves to run and bark. just keep loving her.

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April 25, 20050 found this helpful

Not all dogs that have suffered extensive abuse can be re-socialized. Dogs have the mental accuity of a 2 year old child. They have no way of understanding who may or may not harm them. Since dogs have no sense of time, they are sometimes unable to "recover". With a dog that reacts to a situation with abject terror, it is more humane to remove them from the situation. A terrorized dog cannot be de-sensitized. Just keep them close and love them.


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April 26, 20050 found this helpful

My Cookie Jack Russell Terrier Was left alone for
about 2WEEKS in an empty apt. She is SHY and is not typical CRAZY Jack RT and is loving. She does
not bark once when the doorbell rang on tv she barked shot up and cried. We did what you did at park lots of love, treats and talking mine is still
shy of the ducks .She follows me around room to room and when i go to restroom she lays outside door.She is a lap dog 15 ounds but curls up into ball on my hubby or me. Lil girl across street said 50cents to walk dog and she takes her daily now
Cookie loves her and goes to her house and plays with her reebone dog. Dec to now she rarely shakes. Just be strong when doggie shakes, reassure, but talk to them firm so they know its ok...This is bEST dog we ever had. They are quick learners. Ours sits in crate in car and during day kennel is on floor open and when she wants nap she pops in there
but she does love to snuggle on us in bed and who are we to say no to that? She is finally getting more secure just the other day I got up away from couch and she stayed on couch sleeping-A FIRST- while I refilled my water glass she has followed me to frig door and waited fom to refill and then back to couch. Time, love, paitence which seems you have will make the difference.

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By Bronwyn (Guest Post)
April 26, 20050 found this helpful

You are a special person to persist with a dog that has so many issues. If she is happiest at home and your church, then only take her to those places. Give her lots of time (maybe years) then when she is able, gradually try one new environment at a time. The reason I say this is that you don't want her to become a liability to you (ie - fear biting). It is important to consider others as well as Faith. The most dangerous dog is a scared dog!

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By claudia (Guest Post)
April 27, 20050 found this helpful

I'll bet that Dog School will help.....and just some time to adjust. I adopted a 5 yr old longhaired dachshund with seizure disorder last December and just wanted to say what a nice person you are to take this dog with problems into your home. I think everyone should consider this method of getting a new pet. Visit if you're interested in a doxie. Everyone was so great there!

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By jane (Guest Post)
July 21, 20070 found this helpful

hi we just got a mini collie through someone that just didnt want him he is only a few months old well close to a yr he is very shy when i walk him if he sees someone he will try and hide from them or another dog he will also hide he follows me through the house sleeps with me wont let me out of his sight how do i get him over this??thank you for any advice you could give

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