Post # 1
I’ve posted a few questions about my puppy, Flynn, and you guys have been so helpful so here I am again.
Flynn has been great the last ~3 months….he’s 22 weeks and he knows standard commands and listens well. He’s potty-trained, crate trained, and is fine hanging out in a crate all day during work and sleeps the night in there. He’s affectionate and an all around great dog…except for this one thing: He is EXTREMELY timid around people. We rescued him around 12 weeks (although he was rescued at 6 I believe), and at first he was fine being around anyone. Fiance and I travel with him to our hometowns often, so he meets a lot of new people, and dogs for that matter. At about 4 months, he started being scared of everyone except Fiance and me (and my mom…lol). And then if new people came around, many times he’ll run and hide and won’t even come out to me (unless he’s running to hide behind me).
Most recently he has found his “voice” and has started growling/barking (randomly, not always) at strangers. Although, he’ll then run away if someone does come toward him. He is evidently more scared of males, and he won’t even let my dad come near him even though my dad has been around since we got him.
Now, if I hold Flynn to do an introduction, he’s fine at that moment, but if I put him down/move away after, he will still run if someone tries to come near him. We’ve signed him up for dog classes (starting at the end of the month) to hopefully help, but just wondering if anyone else experienced this with their puppies, and have any techniques that helped them get over stranger/people anxiety? I’m worried, I don’t want him to turn into a mean or defensive dog and it seems like socializing him isn’t working.
Post # 3
Puppies actually go through a fear period multiple times throughout their puppyhood. It’s great you’re signing him up for classes! That should definitely help.
Other things you can do are to continue to take him out to meet new people and experience different places. He should meet someone new every day if possible. Keep tasty treats on hand to reward him for calm behavior when he meets new people. Have people offer him treats to coax him. This is much easier if he’s food motivated. If not, is there a particular toy he loves that people can reward him with?
You don’t want to absolutely force the issue if he’s terrified, but don’t coddle him either. Do not reassure him if he’s scared, this just teaches him that cautious behavior gets him love and pets! Don’t hold him during introductions. Keep him on a leash on the floor. Have people get low and offer a treat when they first meet him. Have your dad try this too. It just takes persistence and patience and time. I promise!
Post # 4
Some dogs can get overwhelmed by new people, especially if they move straight into scratch them as soon as they see them. How are these people approaching? Do they come straight at the dog to pet the cute puppy? There are a couple things that can help. First have the puppy sit whenever someone is approaching. Giving him a job (sitting) when someone comes in gives him something to focus on other then the anxiety. Second don’t allow people to rush up to him and start scratching. They should stand a foot or two away from you and puppy. When the puppy is relativly calm release him from the sit, and let him approach and sniff the new person. Tell them to ignore him- don’t look at him talk to him or scratch. This gives him a moment to figure out who it is, are they a threat, does he know them. After he has sniffed them, give the person a treat to give to the dog. At this point if the puppy is calm and relaxed they can pet him.
Post # 5
Thank you ladies. I tried the treat approach last night, and it definitely helped. It still took him a few minutes to take the treat/be ok, but I had my friend come down to his level (as did I), so he did seem a little less intimidated.
Also, thanks for the heads up about not coddling…that was a very good point and I’m sure I was on the route (just in fear of him being scared and getting agressive). I’ll keep working with him. 🙂
Post # 6
Also puppies can sense your feelings so you need to stay relaxed when he gets scared bc if you get anxious he will too. If he can sense your’re relaxed it’ll help him feel the same way.