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steffi_aus

Puppy scared when meeting people

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Hello,

 

I am new to posting on this site, but have been reading along for awhile and have read lots of helpful advice, I'm now hoping to get some advice of my own. We have a Labrador puppy who is 12 weeks old, we got her when she was 10 weeks old. She is a beautiful puppy with a loving and playful temperament with myself and my partner, and she has settled into our home well. She was raised in a loving family home by a registered breeder with a couple of kids that she loved.

 

What we we have noticed over the last fortnight is that she is very scared when meeting new people. She is not at all aggressive, but will shy away from them, try to hide if she can and slink down low to the ground. On occasions she has also cried but this isn't always the case. We have introduced her to friends and family in our home and she is generally scared for awhile and then she will warm up to them. With some of our friends she has gone from hiding behind us scared or running away, to ten minutes later chasing them around and happily playing. Today we went for a walk around the block and some of our neighbors kids asked if they could pat her - her breeder raised her with kids so I thought it would be okay and said yes, but she completely panicked, tried to run away from them and cried. I felt horrible for putting her in that situation where she was clearly so scared.

 

I would love some advice on how we can help her feel more relaxed when she meets new people? She is not timid or shy at all with myself and my partner - even when we first met her she has never been scared around us. It took us completely by surprise when we first introduced her to someone else and she had such a nervous reaction. 

 

Thanks for all your help, 

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The first thing I would be doing is booking her into a good puppy pre-school.  And also, be careful taking her out for walks until after she is fully vaccinated - have a chat to your vet about it.  I did take my pup out for socialising when she wasn't fully vaccinated but we went to places where dogs didn't frequent so the risk was minimal.

 

There is a lot known about dog behaviour now than there was a few years ago and perhaps she is going through a fear period (I can't remember the ages).  Have a look through this website, read the articles and check out his blog.  http://k9pro.com.au/

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juice   

Pups go through fear periods , I can’t remember ages they do it either, but look it up . 

Its important during that time not to scare them or it can have a lasting effect . 

You could talk to the breeder ? Was the pup scared of you when you first met it ? Could be a nervy pup . 

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Tassie   

The fact that she warms up after a time is encouraging .. so I'd just be listening and paying attention to what she's telling you.  It may well be a fear period .. or it may be that she's not a particularly outgoing pup.  I'd give her a bit longer before you start worrying too much, provided she's happy and comfortable with you and in your home.   Just ask other people to ignore her (hard with a cute Lab puppy :laugh:) until she's got used to them.   

 

Good for you for listening to her about the meeting with kids .. again .. could just be a fear period thing .. but for the moment, just make sure she has plenty of distance from the scary things.  What you could do if you have any obliging friends with well mannered kids, is arrange to meet them somewhere, give the kids lots of treats, and instructions to stay well away from the puppy, and let the kids rain cookie trails around the place .. always moving away from the pup.  See what choices the pup makes.

 

And definitely have a gentle little chat with her breeder .. maybe you could frame it about when fear periods are likely and does the breeder think this behaviour is a fear period thing  or ….

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Dogsfevr   

I would source a qualified trainer who will come to your home and see what the dog does and teach you how to manage and control the puppy .

Dont do it yourself with friends and the likes as you may unknowingly be handling it the wrong way and setting the dog up for a fail .

Having someone to guide in the right process whilst pup is you g is a must and the sooner the better 

 

 

Its a strange reaction if it’s good with the family ,any chance that first person did something unknowingly has left a unhappy memory for this pup.

 

I totally agree in phoning the breeder 

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juice   

I do think it needs looking into as labs are a very outgoing dog , so it’s unusual . 

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sheena   

I would just like to add....when someone is greeting the dog, ask them to get down to the dog's level.  It can be quite confronting for a dog if you lean over it.

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Thank you everyone for your replies. 

 

 She has her first puppy school on the weekend so we are looking forward to that. We have followed the advice of our vet and are just taking her for a walk around our block which is a quiet area, we know a lot of our neighbours and there's not a lot of foot traffic, and not many dogs around. 

 

I have had had a few chats to her breeder as we are still in touch, she has been helpful and is a little surprised that she has been scared, particularly with kids as she grew up with them. She suggested the same things lots of others have, taking it slowly, crouching down to her level. This is what we have been doing with visitors until she gets comfortable with them. She has always been friendly after a period of getting used to them, our friends who bought over a fellow Labrador she was fine with them within about a minute as she was so excited to play with a fellow lab. 

 

We got her from interstate so we picked her up at the airport, and she was fine with us right from the start, standing up in her crate and wagging her tail. She has never displayed any timid or scared feelings towards us. 

 

Today on our walk we passed some people and some kids were playing in the street, I just talked to her calmly, let her watch them for a bit and then we kept walking. Often she seems to want to approach people, but just can't quite find the confidence to do so. 

 

We we will keep persevering and hopefully with time she starts to feel a little more comfortable. She is just such an adorable pup with a beautiful temperament, we want to do anything we can to help her relax about people. 

 

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We we will keep persevering and hopefully with time she starts to feel a little more comfortable. She is just such an adorable pup with a beautiful temperament, we want to do anything we can to help her relax about people. 

 

Quote

I would source a qualified trainer who will come to your home and see what the dog does and teach you how to manage and control the puppy .

Dont do it yourself with friends and the likes as you may unknowingly be handling it the wrong way and setting the dog up for a fail .

Having someone to guide in the right process whilst pup is you g is a must and the sooner the better 

 

 

This, if you let us know what area you are in, someone will recommend a good behaviourist to come to your home to observe whats going on and give you the best strategy to deal with it.  At your puppies age, you really don't want to get it wrong, it could set up a lifelong habit.

 

I'm really happy that you came asking for advice, do we get photos of the adorable one?  :provoke:

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Dogsfevr   

I would be asking the puppy school trainer before you attend classes what strategy they would use for the issues your dog has.There are terrible puppy classes out there that will make your pup worse because there theory is they will get over it or the forced to interact in an environment that is too overwhelming .

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Tassie   

Sounds encouraging.   I would just say … when in doubt, make sure she has enough distance from people and especially kids, that she is not displaying anxiety. …. when in doubt, move away.   Leave it to her to make the first move towards people if she wants to .. and only if she wants to .. and then ask people to stand sideways on and not make any approaches to the pup, or eye contact with the pup.  .   This would apply at puppy class too.   Hopefully it's an outdoor one with lots of space.   Try to have a word with the instructor first and make sure they are understanding of your pup's needs.     Don't feel you have to do what other people in the class might be doing ….. your job is to be responding to what your pup is telling you about how she feels in the situation.

You may well need some qualified professional help (not a franchise trainer), but it may not come to that..    Remember we can't see the pup, so we're only going by descriptions.

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juice   

It could be the breeder doesn’t live in suburbia and it’s all a lot to take in ? 

I second checking out the preschool properly, some are just a free for all and pups can get scared . 

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I'd not be very worried.  It's a shock for a baby puppy to be taken from its litter mates and sometimes it takes a few weeks to get their self confidence in line.  If shyness persists for months, sure, it needs looking into.  But at first, relax, take it slowly, don't push.  Let her curiosity and playfulness draw her into things.  If she pulls back, let her. 

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Thank you all for the interest and helpful advice. I will make contact with the puppy school to make sure they will cater for what she needs. We are in WA, so any recommendations of good behaviourists is appreciated aswell. 

 

When we were out today on our short walk I took the same approach of just walking past people we passed and not engaging, and talking to her calmly, she would stare at them a bit but then keep walking. We did see some kids who were playing and being quite loud and she stopped walking when she saw them and seemed more unsure and nervous than she had been previously so I just turned around and we went a different way and she walked on happily. We did stop and talk to one person who we passed, she seemed interested in meeting him so we both crouched down and she went up to him on her own to play with him and she was fine. I actually had a hard time getting her to leave him alone so we could keep walking, she wanted to follow him. We did also meet some other kids and I said she was a little nervous and not to approach her unless she wanted to be patted, they sat down on the ground and once again she went to them on her own, sniffed them and was a little tentative at first,f but then started to play with them and showed no signs of hesitation. 

 

I'm not trying to force these interactions, they have just happened by chance while we have been out on our short walks, but it seems that she is generally a lot more relaxed once you are crouched down on her level to meet her. I'll continue to listen to her and we will avoid situations that she doesn't seem to want to be involved in. 

 

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6 hours ago, juice said:

It could be the breeder doesn’t live in suburbia and it’s all a lot to take in ? 

I second checking out the preschool properly, some are just a free for all and pups can get scared . 

Yep, she was raised in a semi rural area so big change for her as we are in the suburbs. She is still fascinated by rubbish bins on bin day! 

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Tassie   

Thanks for the update … that sounds very promising.  She will pick up on the fact that you're 'listening' to what she's telling you and respecting her feelings, andshe is understanding that you have her back, and will move away if she's uncomfortable.   :heart:

 

There are some great dog clubs and great trainers in WA .. at least in the Perth area.  You're in the right state, IMO :).

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Dogsfevr   

I would ditch puppy school and contact manners n more they do class training but with all the right aspects aka self control etc etc 

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Some labs are more reserved than others, don’t worry :) 

I would hold your pup very close to you so they feel safe and can pick up on your “vibes” well, then have new people come somewhere like your fence or front door.

Make sure that these are people you are going to be happy to see haha!

Just be chilled yet happy when you make introductions, and start off small, no letting the humans grab at your bubba! Just a quick “loooooook, it’s Frank!! Hi Frank! He’s cool! And also no big deal!”

Let pups stare at Frank, then “Ok bye!!” and you both walk away feeling Zen and go back to doing something fun. 

Mention Frank fondly throughout the course of the next few days until you repeat the experience again.

 

Brief the humans first, no loud AWWW ing, no 31 grandchildren to come racing over, hey Frank, don’t poke your head over the fence 5 mins later to yell at us and so on. 

 

You can then use Frank (hi, Frank) later on as a happy distraction - “hey!! Let’s go say hi to Frank!! And have foodstuffs after! Yay!”

 

just stuff like that. Baby steps. Remember, they need a nap every 3.5 minutes ;p so you don’t need much more than a “S’up? K, toodles!” . 

 

Find something  positive to say about everyone. “Isn’t the vet so pretttttty??? 

How neat is Frank? We like him. He’s cool.”

 

If possible, keep a family member stashed in separate room for awhile. Then when you’re playing excitedly,  be like “hey! Let’s go see....Grandma!” Then go find her all excitedly (have her happy to see pups!) before exiting and returning to playtime. Make the room one that’s safe for running around in/grabbing random items from.

Use going to see that human as a reward. Happily go tell Grandma that you’ve just ate all your dinner, filed your dew claws soooooo beautifully....anything. Be extremely excited about Grandma.

(make sure Grandma is ok with an excited pup.).

 

 

Don’t worry. Dogs have an instinct to not endanger themselves. Some pups are smart and decide to run background checks on humans first :)  Labs aren’t necessarily going to in need of an admiring throng 24/7, but  Not being an extrovert is different to fearing people. 

Just focus on teaching that other humans are ok, aim for “meh” as opposed to fangirl. 

Soon you might find that huge men like Frank are the ones your pup sits excitedly to stare at and ask to meet when you’re out ;p

 

 

 

Edited by CharbearsMa
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Hello, I have the same issue with my 11 week old puppy. She get a little scared and backs up. One time she showed her teeth to a stranger, any ideas?

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Tassie   
9 hours ago, caninefamilia said:

Hello, I have the same issue with my 11 week old puppy. She get a little scared and backs up. One time she showed her teeth to a stranger, any ideas?

So much depends on the circumstances and background.   Things like, what breed?  How long have you had the puppy?  Where is the puppy scared?  What do you do when the puppy indicates she's scared? …. and so on.

 

But in general terms … respect what the puppy is telling you about how she is feeling at the time.   If she backs up, she's telling you she's unhappy about being so close to the thing/person she regards as scary.    That's OK.   Just back up with her so she doesn't have to try to make things clearer by thingls like showing her teeth.   Don't let people get in her space when she shows she doesn't want it.

 

That's just basic management for the time being, but you may need to look at getting some proper professional help if it's a continuing problem.

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