I had another BC pup visit yesterday and was concerned by how terribly shy the pup was. I have owned dogs like this too. For me...as long as the dog is okay with kids we make it work. I get the dog socialized the best I can but accept that many BCs are more tenniative. There are some basics that are helpful and this is what I shared with the owner.
Get your pup out
In the world of pet dog trainers there is a common thread to encourage a pup. It’s 50 new experiences in the first 50 days starting at 8 weeks.
Since young pups are not fully vaccinated until they are 4 months many folks wait until then to take their pup in public. Unfortuately the most malleable time for a young dogs to set the tone for the way they look at the world is BEFORE 4 months so with a pup, especially a shy pup, it is very important to get the pup off your property. (In our area more dogs are euthanized for behavior issues than distemper or parvo so I encourage is idea with my clients.)
Keep it simple
Let the world come to your pup. Have the pup sit on your lap or lay on the ground as you hangout at a coffee shop or grocery store. Horse shows, dog trials, or other events that have a variety of activity going on would be great for the pup to watch. They don’t have to “engage” with everyone but “experience” the place and the people. Noises, sounds, and smells will be overwhelming. Let them soak it up.
Bring some food that you can share with the pup for “brave” behavior or give the food to other folks to share with your pup. Brave behavior means the pups is engaging lightly with the person (sniffing, reaching out to the person). If the pup is so shy they are hiding you need to have a different approach.
Super Shy Pups
Beware “stranger danger”! Never force a stranger on them. If the pup is backing away and hiding from a person the fear will cancel out the reward. Food from that person will have no value and possibly cause more fear. A hand reaching into their face with food might turn into a bite when the hand goes away as the fear/tension releases. Many shy dogs endure unwanted encroachment only to bite as the pressure goes away. Not unlike what we see in a young dog on stock. It’s not uncommon to see a dog rushing to bite the livestock when we ask for a flank if we have allowed too much pressure to build before asking for the next motion/flank/walk-up/call off.
With a super shy pup it is best to let them watch from a place that works for them--behid your legs, under a chair or next to you. Food still works wonders but it has to come from you--not the stranger. And you need to be your pups advocate to keep people at a comfortable distance so you can actively "counter condition" and build a positive correlation between food and people.