Why we need YOU
Shy dogs need a chance at finding a loving family but often, they are overlooked. They don't greet shelter visitors with a tail wag, and they are nervous when being petted. They may cower at the back of the kennel, avoiding eye contact, frightened of what might happen to them.
If HARTT is called in to rescue a dog, it usually means that someone first tried to coax or leash the dog, with no success, because the dog is so insecure and nervous. This is why we use humane traps, which allow us to safely rescue the dog without them needing to approach a person. Once rescued, those feelings of insecurity continue.
Many of our dedicated HARTT volunteers have adopted shy dogs, and they have filled our hearts with joy! Seeing them gradually come out of their shell, stand a few feet closer to their person, keep their gaze on you just a second longer, finally accept a treat from your hand, and eventually follow you around like you are their whole world, is an amazing gift.
Could YOU be the person who gives a dog the life they have never had? Someone who will be their courage when they are scared, their confidence when they feel insecure, and their hope when they've lost all hope?
Our "Confident Companion" adoption program pairs compassionate, patient people with gentle, shy and undersocialized dogs. We are looking for kind-hearted people with a QUIET household, preferably an adults-only home, and a very secure yard (because when shy dogs are scared, they try to escape).
Our Confident Companion program dogs are available for free - there is no adoption fee for the right family. However, adopters must be able to commit to meeting the needs of this dog (food, veterinary care, etc.) for the rest of their life. We, in turn, will maintain regular communication with you and be your guide as you embark upon this very rewarding journey.
Why are some dogs this shy?
While some shy and skittish dogs may have been abused, many may have just been IGNORED....... for YEARS. They may have lived in a back yard, only interacting with people when they received their daily meal. Or, they may have been lost by their family at a young age and have been living on their own, so their experience with people has been very limited.
If I adopt a shy dog, what will s/he be like in my home?
Every pet is different, but most of these dogs will hide or avoid people for a period of time as they acclimate to their new environment. That's ok; it's fine for them to "observe" from what they feel is a safe distance, as they gradually realize that no one is going to hurt them! It usually takes some time - weeks, or months - for a shy dog to approach someone. When they do, it's wonderful!
You can expect that new sounds (a washing machine, a TV), new experiences (walking around inside, or on carpet or tile) and new people (men, children) will be unsettling for these dogs. We encourage you to go about your life, but maybe with a tad more "quietness", like what you might do if a family member is taking a nap or if someone isn't feeling well. We try not to unnecessarily startle them for awhile.
In many cases, we find that dogs who haven't lived as part of a family in a home before tend to not want to go potty indoors - they don't "get" that! Others may be too nervous to go outside on their own, so they may have a few accidents. We will help you navigate the needs of your new family member and help you make sure we set your dog up for success.
Shy dogs typically won't just come running for dinner, and they may have never seen a toy before! You will be their guide, and you'll teach them all of these wonderful things that will help them on their career journey of becoming a "professional pet."
Will my dog grow to love me?
YES! Shy and under-socialized dogs, once they feel comfortable, tend to bond very powerfully to their human. Usually, it's one human at first and then others. But they may always have a preference for one person in the home. Just remember that they are more "socially awkward" than some other dogs, and it will take time for you to see their full personality.
Once this bond occurs though, their world will come to revolve around you, and you will feel the gratitude they feel toward you for saving their life.
Is my home and family a good fit for a shy dog?
There are no absolute answers, but as a general rule, here's what we know. First, a secure home with an escape proof yard is essential. Because of their fears, these dogs are flight risks. You also have to be ok with not taking them out of the home (except for emergency vet care), or even for walks, for at least a few months. And, while it's tempting to want your dog to experience the "fun" that comes from going with you to a café or a pet store, please understand that these types of outings are NOT "fun" for a shy dog. They are very frightening, and they really just want to be in a familiar environment, at your home, for quite some time.
Because shy dogs tend to door dash pretty easily, typically adults-only homes are best. Homes with small children, or with adults who can't move very fast in response to an open door, may not be suitable. If frightened by a random sound, these dogs can sneak past someone super-fast!
I have other pets - is this good or bad?
In most cases, VERY GOOD! These shy dogs tend to be far more fluent in "speaking dog" than they are in "speaking human". We LOVE our shy dogs to go to a home with another "mentor dog" who can show them the ropes. The perfect role model for these dogs is a confident, happy, people-friendly dog who can show them that humans are awesome!
What can I expect from HARTT if I adopt a Confident Companion program dog?
HARTT will have taken care of all initial vet care including a veterinary exam, spay or neuter, vaccines and treatment for any illnesses or injury that were identified during your dog's time with us.
Our team will have conducted an initial evaluation of your dog's temperament, so that we can give you a decent picture of their temperament, tendencies, likes and dislikes.
For the first 12 months following adoption, HARTT will cover the cost of any veterinary care necessary for any illness or previously undiagnosed preexisting medical conditions, as well as any related medications.
Our team will communicate with you at least monthly (more frequently at first) to check in and see how things are going. Since most of our volunteers have a shy HARTT alumni dog at home, we can give you advice, tips and tricks to help your dog progress toward greater confidence.
There is no adoption fee for dogs in HARTT's Confident Companion program! It's our way of thanking you for your compassion and for opening your home to a shy dog.
What will HARTT expect of me after I adopt a Confident Companion program dog?
We require that all adopters follow ALL our safety, barrier and behavior protocols in order to assure your dog will acclimate most successfully to your home.
We expect that you will fulfill all of the commitments and representations you made when you signed your adoption application.
And, our goal is that this dog will have no further transitions – these dogs desperately need stability, therefore we are only seeking adopters, not fosters. So, we ask that our Confident Companions carefully consider their future plans and give us reasonable assurance that the dog we place in the home will remain part of their family for the rest of their lives.