The biggest problem owners of Brussels Griffons will run into with the breed is the occasional bashful puppy. While breeders are very careful to extract this genetic problem with careful breeding techniques, there are always puppies that are born shy or "soft". When this happens, it is often thought that the puppy will not be able to be adopted or shown because of his undesirable characteristics. But that is not necessarily true.
The shy or "soft" personality in the Brussels Griffon can usually be seen in his reaction to loud noises, quick movements, and other things that surprise and scare him. Sometimes this is a reaction to something that happened in the dog's past. Poor breeding techniques, improper socializing as a puppy, or trauma suffered at a pet store or puppy mill will ultimately produce a very shy and skittish Brussels Griffon. The dog has a very long memory and does not easily or ever really forget frightening events he has experienced. These experiences can ruin his personality forever.
Other Brussels Griffons simply have fallen prey to a submissive gene somewhere in their DNA that has reared its ugly head once more. It is possible for completely outgoing and independent Brussels Griffons to have a litter containing a shy or soft puppy. The personality can come from as far away as 5 generations.
As a breeder or as someone who has a newly adopted Brussels Griffon puppy, be sure to socialize your Brussels Griffon. He should be raised in the house to help him become accustomed to loud noises like television, closing doors, and the vacuum cleaner. Once he has gotten his vaccinations, he can be taken to the dog park or to obedience classes so he can get to know other dogs. Because he is so small, the soft Brussels Griffon may be wary of larger dogs. It is essential that he gets to spend time with docile dogs that are bigger than he is. That way he will not fear them when he gets older.
Some Brussels Griffons with this shy or soft personality will never make good show dogs. Others can excel in the ring with a little love and a lot of patience and care. Shy Brussels Griffons will not learn well on leashes; this makes them even more anxious. Once he is at the dog show, carry him around as opposed to letting him walk. He may become afraid and revert to shyness if he is encountered by a strange, big dog or a particularly fast moving person or cart. He should also have access to his favorite things or a companion animal before and after the show to make him feel comfortable.