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Old 02-18-2013, 08:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Proper way to socialize a timid pup

My pup is almost 12 weeks and when I take her somewhere to socialize her, she won't leave my side. She goes between my legs or behind me when someone or other dogs come near her. Whats the best way to introduce her to people so she can get used to them. She won't let people touch her (no aggression, just runs away and hides behind me). She won't play with new dogs. She plays with my other dog just fine and she responds to my commands just fine for her age. Just want to make sure i do this right so there are no future issues. I also can't take her to training until she gets over this. Thanks for the help
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Here's a great article on that topic: Don?t Socialize the Dog! | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

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It's all about showing a puppy new things and letting the puppy "win" in the challenge presented. But too often people think only of showing the puppy new things, without taking care that the puppy feels very successful. In fact, sometimes what people intend as helpful socialization creates more problems than it prevents.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks but that article doesn't really help my situation. She won't leave my side. She won't go up to a stranger and start sniffing. When someone walks towards us, she cowers behind me or between my legs. Same thing happens with dogs. Whats the proper way to get her to bring her out of her shell? I don't think forcing her by pulling her leash and then holding the leash so someone can pet her as she tries to get away is the right think to do. I know that if i were to wait 20-30 min, she will eventually start sniffing and slowly walk up to the stranger but I can't ask strangers to stand still and wait 30 min while my dog gets used to them so they can pet her.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I think the article exactly answers your question. If she's that shy or fearful around people then she's not ready for them to be close enough to pet her. The point is that socialization should be a positive experience for your puppy. If you force her into situations that are are uncomfortable or stressful then she's not having a positive experience. Remember too that socialization is exposure to new people/places/things, not necessarily interaction with the new stuff. As she gains confidence, at a distance where she's happy and relaxed, you may find that she's more interested in getting closer. Don't rush her.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ok, but if people walk up to her to try to pet her and she backs away and hides behind me, what do I do? Pull her in front of me and hold her while people pet her, let her just cower at the sight of people and allow it as if its normal, tell people not to attempt to touch her and to back away from her. That's my question. I'm well aware that this is going to take time but whats the proper way to not make her scared of people approaching her. I understand if I go to a social gathering of friends and family I can tell them to let her be and she'll become comfortable in her time but taking her to a pet store or dog park where there are strangers that want to pet a cute puppy, what do I do?
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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people do not have to make contact . take her for a walk where there are lots of neutral people and keep on walking . If people say "cute pup" say , thanks ! and keep on walking .

no need to have social pressure -- give her space and time -- when people come over have her in her crate where she can see and hear the goings on , and your guest leave her alone . let her get her focus on you first -- you be the role model for all "people"

meeting nose to nose with dogs - not necessary --

just had a quick read of the Pryor site -- agree with that - it is totally relevant .

I think this mission to "socialize" is over whelming to a shy dog and sets the stage to be counterproductive
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I am VERY new to training, and am currently learning that my previous views on how to socialize a dog are WAY off. I am in sch training and have learned how important it is to make the dog trust that YOU will always be it's protector. A PP said it best, put her in situations she wins. This fear can absolutely turn into fear aggression later on, so right now is the best time to curb it.

I would enroll in a puppy obedience class immediately, even if just for the CONTROLLED socialization factor. And def do what other's have suggested, she does not need to interact, do NOT let people walk up to her and scare her, PROTECT her. Tell them you are training her and she can't be pet right now. As her confidence builds in you as her protector you can slowly let her "interact." Starting with VERY controlled enviorments, ex:a friend or family member (someone who can spend an hour or so with you), coming around but not interacting until SHE is comfortable and feels brave enough.

I cannot stress how important it is for her to feel protected by you. My puppy was showing a bit of fear in the beginning (8 weeks) and I was stupidly putting him in INTERACTIONS that scared him and setting him up for failure (ie crazy dogs parks, etc). Now that we are going on month two of training, I see a remarkable difference in him. When we take him for walks downtown, or at the beach, he is leashed and is to remain in complete focus on me. Not even glancing (pulling) towards anything or anyone. It is making him trust in me, and that confidence is carrying over to situations that used to be scary for him...now he isn't nervous. Hope that helps, and again, this is just from my newby, beginner, training. But I know EXACTLY what you are talking about and I didn't understand the difference between FORCING a situation/interaction, and exposure to things. BIG difference :-)
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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"taking her to a pet store or dog park where there are strangers that want to pet a cute puppy, what do I do?"

DO NOT do these things...they make her scared. I know it's hard, you want to show off your new puppy and all...but it sounds like she is NOT ready to do these things. It's a small price to pay to miss out on dog parks as a puppy, to have a stable adult later on.

Dog parks are HORRIBLE, especially for timid, scared, puppies.

Think of it this way, she doesn't have a bond with you yet, she is in a new environment and feels completely unprotected and vulnerable (until she has that bond of trust in you). Add to that the crazy, unpredictable, *usually untrained, dogs of a dog park...and that fear is going to turn into defensive fear aggression. She is going to learn that no one is watching out for her, so she needs to defend herself. A trait that can become VERY difficult to break later on...hth
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the help. Prior to me reading all this, yesterday I did take her to a dog park and she wouldn't leave my side. I was there for maybe 30 min or so and by the end she had started to go up to another dog and sniff. Today, I tried a different tactic. I took the puppy and my 4yr old JRT to the dog park since the JRT is a ball of energy that loves playing with everyone and everything. I thought maybe she could learn by example since she already knows my other dog and is comfortable around him. She stayed by my side most of the time, but she got up the courage on her own to go sniff other dogs and even try to play with some of them. She was less timid and once she became comfortable she started to run around with the other dogs and get my involved. She would always return to me after a minute or so. So I think she made progress. Still scared around people. I figured I will just take her to a friends place and let her do her own thing and tell the friends to just ignore her until she wants to initiate contact and start that route because I do want her to feel safe with me and do not want her to become aggressive. I had taken her to a trainer the other day she wouldn't do anything because she was so scared and nervous. The trainer said there's no point in trying to train her at his place until she is comfortable there and around other dogs and people. So i kinda have to get her over this. I'm going to have to keep bringer her back to the training location so she can get used to that environment and she's going to have to get used to people before the trainer can work with us.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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With a pup like yours I would avoid the parks as you never know what dogs are there. Let her meet known safe dogs. It only takes one bad experience to ruin her carefully built up skills.
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