Maya McLaughlin Canine Behaviourist & Trainer
ISCP.Dip.Canine.Prac,  MISAP
                     Always choose a trainer who loves what they do

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Quiet, shy and aloof dogs can be described as introverts. The introvert dog will not push himself to the front in a group setting e.g. in puppy class or even if he receives too much attention from people in the street, no matter how kindly meant. He can find this overwhelming and will usually back off with head averted, sometimes hiding behind his carer or otherwise look for a quiet, familiar place (bed, crate) where he can feel safe. Sometimes a dog appears distant or stand-offish when in fact he is simply shy and unsure of what to do or how to react in a busy situation. Just like people, the introvert dog will thrive best if he meets with new situations and experiences, including meeting new dogs and people, thoughtfully, with care and without making him the centre of attention.


   Kai & Nutty (Introvert meets Introvert)

Happy, energetic and social dogs can be described as extroverts. The extrovert dog will naturally make sure he is at the vanguard of any happening; whether in a family setting, in the park or at home with his family. The extrovert dog is the first one to appear when a game is being played, when the food bowl is rattled or when visitors come to call. The extrovert enjoys attention and will happily join in with whatever is going on. Because this type of dog is so eager to involve himself he may come over as a little boisterous so he will require time out sessions where he can rest and relax. Unlike the introvert dog who actively seeks sanctuary in his quiet place, the extrovert dog may require to be shown to his quiet place. This however should not be presented to the dog as a punishment and a favourite chew or cuddly toy the dog associates with rest time should be given then.



How to help your introvert dog meet another introvert dog


If, like mine, your dog is an introvert, and he is meeting a new dog you know is also introverted then make the first meeting in a neutral space, like a quiet beach or park.  Keep both dogs on leash and walk beside the other owner with both dogs on the outside. You can chat casually to the other person so the dogs feel it is a normal walk but be mindful of your dog and what he is doing. Is he happy to trot alongside you? Is his body relaxed and loose or is he tense?  Is he curious about the other dog?   Keep walking and chat on and off but both of you be aware of the dogs and what behaviours they are displaying, primarily though ignore them as they are more likely to relax into the walk point and they can become familiar with the presence of the other without anything being required of them. 

After the walking say ten minutes or so just stand and chat for a few minutes and even if the two introvert dogs are still ignoring one another, if nothing is made of this one of them will start to show some interest even a little like turning to look at the other dog, edging closer, sniffing the ground and if both dogs have quiet calm energies all it takes one dog to make the first move to gravitate towards the other if nothing is forced. This is a routine I have employed several times when introducing two shy dogs to one another and it works very well. Introvert dogs are introduced one-to-one and never in a group.



How to help your introvert dog meet an extrovert dog


This one is a bit more challenging and can shred an introverted dog’s nerves in pieces but if it has to happen then here is one way (tried and proven by me) and it does work but not a quick fix and you have to keep your eye on the ball. Assuming the situation is temporary (looking after a relative’s extrovert dog for a day or even a weekend without much notice whom your dog has never met before) then little and often exposure to the extrovert with a fail-safe go-to sanctuary for your dog is an absolute must. You must never allow the extrovert to follow the introvert into his ‘den’ because that can lead to unfortunate stand-offs or worse if a nervous dog feels cornered, even by a dog who only wants to play. Supervise low-key playtimes and walks whilst giving your dog time to get used to the new arrival without feeling too stressed out.  Your dog should always know that you are in control and will keep him safe in any situation.


Below Benjie & Nutty (Extrovert meets Introvert)