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Old 03-05-2014, 09:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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It hurts me to type this, but I'm worried Loki got a bad batch of genetics, or I'm just not socializing her right.

Until recently, I've had Loki out and about(after her shots, of course) as much as possible. She was okay, a bit fearful, but toys and treats quickly got her over that, and I felt like she was at a comfortable level being around people/dogs. However, today I took her to the dog park and it was horrifying. There was only one other dog there since it's so cold. Immediately, her ears were down, tail tucked and she was whimpering/whining.

I asked the owner to please hold his dog until I could get her calmed down. But treats/toys did nothing for her, and as soon as he took a step towards her she was cowering and yelping and trying to run away from him(the dog). I walked farther away from him and his dog, and he distracted his dog with a ball. Loki got interested in his ball, and went after it with him. As soon as his attention was on her again, she was whining/whimpering and running way. It took a while, but he could approach her and she wouldn't immediately submit/or be too fearful.

I know I handled this wrong, but I wasn't sure what to do, and at the time thought it would be better to work through the fear then go home and let it fester. The other dog was about a year old, male and a nice calm lab mix. He wasn't even at all aggressive, just playful and interested. Another absolutely odd thing was Loki was afraid of his owner. I gave him treats to give Loki, and she continued to shy away from him. She didn't tuck tail and run/whine/whimper with him, but she'd duck her head or dart away whenever he got anywhere close to her.

Thinking it was just a fluke(or good instincts), I took her to Petco, and it was immediately the same reaction. I tried to work her through it--and did, but she was tucked against my calf and wouldn't move, and she was whining/whimpering so bad. After a good note, where a little kid fed her a treat, I calmly walked her out and took her back home.

Hoping to get back to beginning socialization, I had my family come over to shower her with treats and praise, and hopefully build up that same wonderment of 'wow this is cool/fun/good/yay!'

She had no problem with my family, came to them happily wagged her tail, etc. However, I was in my room and my dad came to ask me where I kept the papertowels, and Loki was in there with me. My dad startled me, since I wasn't paying attention, so maybe he startled Loki, too. But she started to growl and bark at him as he stood in the doorway. Loki normally adores my dad. I reprimanded her, and put her in a time out. Perhaps that was the wrong thing to do, but I was told not to let that escalate at all.

Could this just be a passing trend? Am I too worried? Have I done something wrong? Or could it be her genetics?

Edit: Loki is just over five months old, if that helps.
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Excellent thread on socialization rethinking "popular" early socialization

Really makes you stop and rethink the socialization that we have all learned to do.

As for what happened today at the park, instead of going to Petco after the park, I would have taken the pup to the outside of the dog park, engaged her in play to the point she was completely focused on you and then ended it on the high note.

By the time she got to Petco and then later at home with your dad, she was already completely overwhelmed. Her stress levels were already high, it isn't surprising the sudden appearance of your dad caused the behavior you saw.

Again, the link posted is a good eye opener.
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh! Apologies, I didn't specify. I didn't take her to Petco/have my family over that same day. That was the next day, though Petco and my family did happen on the same day. Just not with the dog park. And I will definitely read the thread. Thank you for posting it Twyla!
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I know I handled this wrong, but I wasn't sure what to do, and at the time thought it would be better to work through the fear then go home and let it fester.
Not usually a good idea. Overwhelming her with scary experiences is only going to make things worse, not better. Your puppy is a month older than in this article, but I think it still applies: Two Misunderstandings About Dog Socialization | Robin Bennett
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Not usually a good idea. Overwhelming her with scary experiences is only going to make things worse, not better. Your puppy is a month older than in this article, but I think it still applies: Two Misunderstandings About Dog Socialization | Robin Bennett
I think I need a new trainer, then. The one I've been working with told me that if I left when Loki was afraid of something, it would just create a worse reaction/anxiety like situation next time she approached/was in that situation.

I'm glad I went with my guts, and posted now... Makes me wonder what else she's been wrong about.

Pretty much I've messed all of this up for her so far, huh? I feel so bad now. I've had dogs who lived anxiety ridden lives, and I just don't want that for her. Thanks for your replies guys.
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Just remember that the "right" way to socialize is for your puppy to create positive associations with new people/places/things. If she's not having fun or if she's not calm and relaxed, then it's not doing her any good and could indeed be doing harm.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Should I avoid the dog park/Petco now that a bad association has been erected? Or should I keep her a safe distance away and engage her and make it a more comfortable thing, but do it slowly like over a course of a few weeks? Just as Twyla suggested I should have done after the dog park.

And if the issue persists with people/dogs--which, I'm reading the thread Twyla posted(should I be worried about her being okay around them right now?) if so, should I keep to the same thing, and be a safe distance away, get her engaged in OB or play, and then walk by it with her attention focused on me? Or should I have them walk by as we're playing/training, and just keep coming closer every few minutes until I can see her become un/comfortable?

Or just keep doing as I was doing, besides the dog park/dog stores, and take her everywhere with me(like parks, shopping areas, on long walks, in neighborhoods, etc?)

Sorry for flooding you guys, but I've messed her up the last two days, and I want to fix it.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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most definitely genetics 110%. stable dogs dont need to be socialized to be stable. they are born that way.

my friend has a golden that sounds like your pup. in training the trainer tried to come up to her and she cowered and hid under a chair. once she saw someone riding a bike and immediately took off running the other way and there was no way of calling her back. scared of random things like a football. submissive peeing. just skittish by nature. my friend has slowly worked with her and now shes ok and can go places and more confident but she'll never be what i'd consider a stable dog.

she will never be a confident stable dog but right now you need to train her so that she isnt fear aggressive. i had a pup that was barking at a plastic bag blowing in the wind. i thought it was cute. well it was weak nerves and he grew up to be fear aggressive which is time consuming and a money pit trying to fix it

btw its not your fault. you didnt mess her up.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I am very protective of my puppy when walking her in the neighborhood. Never dog parks, no interactions with strange dogs she doesn't know. A girl walked up yesterday and I nailed her. She walked up like she was going to introduce her dog to the pup. I had three thing's going on or more at the moment. One, was a guy we were talking about raw food, the wife hand's me the cell with the plumber on the line, told the plumber I could speak with him in 45 min., not now. The girl continues up without one word, I said, "don't be stupid." Rough yes, rude yes, brash yes. I don't want my girl to have a bad experience with a animal she doesn't know !!! I am daddy. I protected her from whatever.. I don't know the girl, the dog, nothing. Now, stay away, you have no clue if the dog is $2000.00, $5000.00 or $150- ? Every time she get's startled, I need to comfort her and reassure her this is life as a dog and it's okay.

I need to go now the wife is
refereeing a Jack on his back and an aggressive female GSD..

Be aware !
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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most definitely genetics 110%. stable dogs dont need to be socialized to be stable. they are born that way.

my friend has a golden that sounds like your pup. in training the trainer tried to come up to her and she cowered and hid under a chair. once she saw someone riding a bike and immediately took off running the other way and there was no way of calling her back. scared of random things like a football. submissive peeing. just skittish by nature. my friend has slowly worked with her and now shes ok and can go places and more confident but she'll never be what i'd consider a stable dog.

she will never be a confident stable dog but right now you need to train her so that she isnt fear aggressive. i had a pup that was barking at a plastic bag blowing in the wind. i thought it was cute. well it was weak nerves and he grew up to be fear aggressive which is time consuming and a money pit trying to fix it
Can genetics be directed at just certain things? I've only dealt with adult rescue dogs before, so everything puppy is new to me. However, Loki is GREAT with unexpected things. First week we brought her home, the shelf in the pans cabinet broke, and she was standing right next to it. The loud sounds spooked her, she stumbled back, but there was no barking/whining/fearful actions after a ten second delay. Her ears were up, tail raised(in what I now know as her interested pose) and she was eying the cabinet with curiosity.

It spooked her for a bit, but she bounced back right away. Another thing--I had her out on a long lead while I was shoveling the drive way. Neighbor came out(close together houses), his door banged and she quickly alerted to the noise and him. He started to shovel, but she wasn't fearful/aggressive. Her ears were up, tail engaged, and she just watched him. I saw no fearful responses, and just her name called her back to me when she went to investigate, and she stayed by my side, but she did watch him for a little bit.

Perhaps I misconstrued that as her just being curious, and maybe she was fearful, but she showed no immediate signs or body language that she was anxious or fearful of the door closing, or my neighbor. In fact, it only took her a little bit of time to lose interest and start climbing our snow piles and rolling in them.
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