Helping a Shy Cat and Fearful Dog Thrive

It’s always exciting when you bring a new pet into your home. Although cats and dogs react differently to changes in their surroundings, there is always the possibility that your new friend will be a little shy.

There are ways to overcome this and make your new furry friend more comfortable. At Raleigh Pet Sitters, we believe that the relationship between a pet and his or her owner is a forever one. In this blog post we offer tips to help your shy pet relax so you can build a relationship that will last a lifetime.

3 tips to help a shy cat acclimate

Cats are known for their independence, and sometimes so are their attitudes toward people. Some don’t have that confident streak though, and instead, they’re a little shy. There are a few things you can do to help your cat.

  1. Create a safe space, or “home base” for your new cat.
    Cats like having a specific spot to retreat to, just like humans do. At first, put everything your cat needs in one space- food, water, litter box, carrier, and bed. They’ll learn to see the space as a safe one throughout your socialization process and later.
  2. Don’t force interaction or eye contact.
    If you stare directly into a cat’s eyes or force them to allow your touch, they may begin to see you more as predator instead of a friend and protector. When you do catch your cat’s eye, don’t stare. Instead, blink, slowly lower your eyes and let them come to you. 
  3. Create a routine.
    For a shy cat, creating a routine they can count on brings comfort and familiarity. It helps to be consistent in feeding them, cleaning up after them, and playing. Over time, they’ll become more comfortable.

3 tips to help a fearful dog acclimate

Like cats, dogs can be fearful in new situations, especially when they are newly adopted. The difference is that dogs may overcome this with socialization, whereas cats overcome their shyness with time.

  1. Recognize fearful behaviors.
    Dogs aren’t often known as timid animals, but some develop shyness that manifests in how they behave. Some fearful behaviors to watch for include fight or flight, or freezing in new situations.
  2. Don’t praise fearful behaviors.
    Praise courageous movement. If your dog is scared in a situation, don’t encourage them, but don’t force them to remain in an unsafe situation. Watch your dog for cues. Praise your pup if he or she seems fearful but moves to investigate the situation. 
  3. Try counter conditioning.
    In some situations, training can help. Some dogs don’t like people wearing hats that shade their eyes. In this situation, it helps to give them something they like.  Let’s say you’re out for a walk and your dog spots someone wearing a hat and tenses up- use a small treat when they see that person to eventually break the connection between hats and fear. 

A shy or fearful pet can thrive with the right encouragement and love from an owner, and with consistency. 

If you’re looking for some consistency in socialization and exercise, Raleigh Pet Sitters’ mid-day dog walks might be a start! Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your furry friend. 

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