My dog is an introvert

It was only recently that I learned, and subsequently identified with, the term introvert for my own benefit. Sure, I’d heard the term thrown around, and I assumed an introvert was sort of a homebody, and someone that didn’t necessarily like other people. Turns out this couldn’t be more untrue. An introvert can be very social, can even be the life of the party when they deem it necessary, they just aren’t energized by it. Exactly, I thought! Instead, an introvert can feel drained by forcing themselves to be “on,” and will need time alone to themselves to re-energize.

Just like my dog.

 My dog is an introvert

It isn’t any secret that Izzie wasn’t properly socialized. At the time, nearly eight years ago, I thought if you had another dog, your dog would become social with that dog. Yep, I completely missed the mark on what socialization meant for a dog. And the dog she had for company was sort of mental, so that helped even less. Flash forward many years, and Izzie is a dog that is fearful in situations she doesn’t know, doesn’t really enjoy the company of many other dogs, and feels out of sorts unless she is in her comfort zone of familiarity. That comfort zone includes being left to her own devices, and only playing with her younger sister when the mood strikes.

So, what now?

Is Izzie’s need to keep to herself a bad thing? Not really.

Do I need her to be the life of the party at the dog park? Not at all.

Does she need socialization to get over her fears? Absolutely.

So, while respecting her individuality as a dog that prefers the company of herself (plus pillows), I’ve been slowly working with her on her socialization. Slowly has been the keyword. She still doesn’t like leaving her comfort zone. She still is not quite sure why she should have to be out and about. And although she loses her mind with excitement the second you mention going somewhere in the car, she pants incessantly the entire trip.

Realizing my dog is introverted has made me realize that training works best when it’s done in short increments of time, and gives her time to “recharge” afterwards on her own. I’ve also learned that socialization and social aren’t necessarily the same thing. I want and need her to be acceptable around others (socialized), but she doesn’t have to love and seek out the company of others (social).

Have you had luck with training an introverted dog?

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  • Jody Miller-Young

    My Sophie is a nervous dog. She gets anxious in unfamiliar situations, too. She loves playing in our living room. She seems to get excited the once in a while I take her to the dog park, but also seems a bit stressed there, especially if an aggressive little dog tries to play with her. She loves play but not the aggressive kind. What I’ve done is socialize her on leash. There are so many dogs in NYC, even just around our neighborhood, that it’s easy to run into them, stop, play a moment and move on. But I’m thinking of getting a second dog to keep Sophie company. Nervous about it, though. Because, if I don’t get it right, could be exactly the wrong thing. So taking my time researching. It’s complicated having an introverted dog. I think your solution of training in increasing increments is a good one. Good luck!

    • Stefanie

      Ah, the decision to get a second dog is hard! I sort of wish we’d gotten the older dog’s issues worked out a bit before we got a second dog that would mimic them, but oh well. I love both my girls. Good luck on working with Sophie!