DailyECPR: The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Shy Animal in a Big and Boisterous World

This is Lemon.

Her last name should be Ade, because she is about as sweet as a tall, sugary glass of lemonade. As soon as I start petting her, she begins to rumble with appreciative purrs. She curls her paws and arches her back toward my hand. She loves to get cuddles.

Although gorgeous girl Lemon really is a sweet heart, she looks rather glum and grouchy. Lemon has resting grumpy face. But she is certainly not a grumpy girl. Her beautiful face may be Lemon but her heart is Lemon Meringue Pie with extra whip cream.

Lemons grumpy expression might just be her natural expression, or it may be her face is conveying her discomfort with this big intimidating world we live in. Sweet little Lemon is a very shy girl. Lemon has been through a lot. She is a young kitty, but already she is a mother. Here are some pictures of her adorable children, Mildred, Horatio and Earl Grey.


Lemon has travelled a long way to get to Emerald City Pet Rescue. We understand if she needs some time to feel fully comfortable in this new environment.

We don’t just have shy cats, we have shy dogs at Emerald City Pet Rescue. Today I got to spend some time with Chuco, a new arrival to ECPR and a very shy little guy.


We went on a walk together and although he wasn’t fully comfortable with all the people roaming the streets and the cars zooming past, he handled the outdoor expedition like a little champion. He summoned his bravery and sallied forth. But once we arrived back at Emerald City Pet Rescue headquarters, it was easy to tell the experience had worn him out. He was ready to spend some time alone with his thoughts and his blankets in his kennel.

Shy dogs need a chance to gain confidence. Here is what you can do to help the shy dog overcome his timidity.

*Give him lots of encouragement. We all know how amazing dogs are! Make sure the dog knows how amazing he is by praising him and telling him what good little sweetie he is.

*Work on training together. When a dog accomplishes a training goal, you can see it in his gleaming eyes and in the stately way he holds himself that he feels proud that he understood and learned something new. Training can really help build a dogs confidence.

*When a dog seems scared, instead of using a sad, sympathetic voice, use a confident and cheerful voice. If he hears the sympathy or concern in your voice, the dog may believe he does indeed have something to be worried about. If you sound cheerful, it makes the experience more positive for the dogs.

*Reward the shy dogs accomplishments. If he meets a new person with a tail wag instead of cowering, let him know how good he is and how proud you are.

*Be patient and troubleshoot new ideas. Different things work for different dogs. For instance, Santos and Knight Rider sometimes feel intimidated during walk time. But when they have a walking buddy, they feel they can overcome their walking fear. Even though they are both scared on their walks, they gain solace and fortitude in each other’s company.


Sometimes I forget that Santos even is a shy dog. In the playroom he is bold and brave. He sometimes walks around as if he is the little king of the playroom. With all kennel attendants, he is eager for cuddles and to say “HI!” But then I will see him cowering when a new volunteer wants to cuddle. Or I will see him huddled in a corner during a meet and greet and I am reminded that little Santos is shy. He is such a sweet little fellow and his shyness really has held him back in finding his forever home. Once he is given the opportunity to warm up to the right person, he is going to make someone very happy. He is a sweet, funny, playful and lovable little fellow.


Knight Rider has overcome a lot of his fear! When he first got here, he was very reserved. Now he dashes and darts around the playroom without a care in the world. He use to refuse to walk at all during walk time. But now, especially if he has his walking buddy, he marches along on his walks with confidence and gusto.


With shy dogs, a lot of times it is just figuring out different elements that may contribute to their reserve. For instance, Ruby’s limited vision probably makes the world feel more intimidating than it would if she had normal vision. She can’t really see who is going to bump into her at any given moment. So today, while the puppies were sleeping in their kennel, we gave Ruby the entire puppy corner to herself. She was able to trot around the area and be out in the playroom without unknown rowdy dogs whizzing around her like a storm of chaos.


Dogs are often admired for their natural sociability and constant state of jubilation. But to teach a shy animal that they are safe and to coax a shy animal to trust you is a very beautiful experience. I have great admiration for all the shy animals of Emerald City Pet Rescue, both those who have found their forever home and those who are still searching. Give a shy animal a chance! They have so much to teach about bravery and love.

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