It’s OK to be shy

by Fiona Sinclair // October 2017

It’s OK to be shy

Most dogs love attention from members of their own family. Some dogs even love attention from everyone they meet, but many dogs feel uncomfortable or even anxious about attention from strangers. I know I wouldn’t like it if someone I had never met approached me and threw their arms around me! But people often miss the signals that dogs use to tell us that they don’t want to interact.

 When dogs are telling us that they don’t want to greet us, we should listen. However if people don’t know the dog and don’t understand dog body language, then it’s difficult for them to know that this is a dog who is uncomfortable being approached. This is where you can step in and ‘translate’! However, an owner of an anxious dog might feel embarrassed or awkward about asking strangers to back off from their dog and worry that people will think that they are rude or that their dog is aggressive.  One solution is to find something for your dog to wear that immediately lets people know your dog is anxious.

You might have seen guide dogs or sniffer dogs around with clearly marked kit saying “Please don’t approach me, I am working”, or something similar. Well, the same kit exists for dogs that don’t want to be approached because they are nervous.

 Here is one example. In the pictures, “Gandalf” the Podenco is wearing a dog neckerchief in bright yellow that clearly tells everyone he is nervous. Gandalf is a lovely Podenco who was brought to the UK from Spain by a rescue charity. He came to our Dog School classes in Edinburgh, and in his first few classes, he hid under the chair where he felt safe. We have seen a few of these rescue Podencos in our classes and some are very confident, but Gandalf was anxious of people he didn’t know. Wearing the neckerchief helps to make sure people give him space. This means Gandalf doesn’t have to feel so worried about strangers being around.


If you are interested in bringing your dog to our Dog School classes in Edinburgh, why not contact us at or 0131 448 1025.