"Question: How does a person overcome shyness?
Answer: There is new research that shows some people are born with a propensity to be shy. Carl Schwartz of Harvard Medical School and his colleagues conducted brain scans on 22 adults as they looked at pictures of familiar and unfamiliar faces.
The 13 subjects who had been shy at age 2 had more activity in a part of the brain known as the amygdala when they looked at unfamiliar faces than did the nine subjects who had been outgoing toddlers. The amygdala regulates emotions, including, most prominently, fear.
The finds support the hypothesis that some brain properties relating to temperament are preserved from infancy into early adulthood.
The researchers noted that many of the subjects who appeared to have been born shy were able to overcome that part of their temperaments as adults, even though their brains retained the tendency to react negatively to new faces."
Interesting stuff for owners of shy, nervous, fearful or aggressive dogs, huh? Making the bold assumption that dogs probably work in similar ways, this would mean that we CAN (with specialist training) train such a dog to "overcome their temperament" as adults, keeping in mind that their brain would probably retain the tendency to react to certain stimuli the same way it always did.
Be very wary of anyone who tells you -
- dogs aren't born that way, they're raised that way
- using a certain training procedure, you can teach a shy/nervous/reactive dog not to be shy/nervous/reactive for good, in any situation
... because chances are, your dog will still retain some element of shyness/nervousness/reactivity even if you can change the outward behavior (and you certainly can). Any "rehabilitation" of reactive dogs needs to be seen for what it is - you change a response to certain stimuli. If you change the picture too much from what you have trained for, the dog will fall back into old patterns. Also, if the trained behavior isn't reinforced enough, it will disappear, much like any other trained behavior.