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Old 05-22-2014, 10:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Portland Oregon
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Default 12 week old GSD is anxious/scared in public settings and around strangers. Advice!

Hey everyone! I'm looking for some advice/tips on getting my 12 week old puppy Bailey to be more comfortable in public settings. I take her for a walk on a daily basis as long as the weather permits but I have noticed when we pass by people or dogs she becomes anxious or fearful. She doesn't become aggressive by any means but she tries to get away, hide or she continuously looks back. Today during our walk we walked past a children's tricycle and she was terrified but she does just fine when we go past a bicyclist. How do I make her more comfortable or confident during our walks or when she is around strangers. Like when we are in public if people walk by she tries to hide. During our walks we have only had a few people want to pet her so I don't know how to get her use to strangers coming up to give her some positive attention.
After she is completely vaccinated I hope to take her to dog parks and into pet stores but I don't want her to be freaked out. What should I do or have you done in this situation? Will she grow out of it in time or is it something I should be really worried about since I know during the puppy stages is when she needs to be socialized. Please any advice would be great. Thank you for your time!
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Old 05-22-2014, 10:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: California
Posts: 335

Just a warning -- she is not fully vaccinated and should not be WALKING in the neighborhood either. You are putting her at huge risk of parvo walking around the neighborhood not fully vaccinated.

A dog park and pet store are the worst places to take a timid dog. She will be bullied and over stimulated. It will not work out well.

My advice -- immediately STOP walking her. She's young, you are frightening her more and more, and you are on the quick trip to parvo land.

Find yourself a good private dog school. NOT petsmart or petco, like a real place that is indoors with good trainers. Once she is vaccinated fully, start with a puppy kindergarten. Training, socialization, and other dogs. Each week your trainer can suggest a couple appropriate outtings to build confidence. Keep going with obedience school - basic, intermediate, advanced. This builds socialization with people and dogs in a controlled environment and also confidence as she gains success. An agility 1 class also brings confidence as the dogs master the different obstacles.

Forcing a timid dog to "face her fears" does not work. Dogs don't understand "oh just get over it you are OK" like you can do with children.

Work with a trainer on confidence building appropriate activities and add more and more different experiences as she ages and can cope. For now, you can have people visit and maybe an adult fully vaccinated healthy well balanced dog visit. Have a different person come every day. Do things at home like different surfaces, climbing on things, different noises, riding around in the car, watching things from windows.

Please don't go walking her around the neighborhood not fully vaccinated. Don't keep forcing her into really scary situations. It will only teach her the world is a very scary place.
Cara -- Central CA
+ Shay -- GSD
+Melody Rose & Cubby Shelties
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