Puppy fearful of people? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy fearful of people?

I have a 3 month old pup. When she meets strangers she will go up and sniff them but if anyone tries to pet her she freaks out and starts barking and growling. I'm not really sure how to fix this problem. I have had a couple people give her treats and after she has no problem and lets them pet her. So any advice would be super helpful. Thanks
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 02:25 PM
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Get her in a good puppy class in a controlled environment ASAP.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 03:27 PM
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Heres my 2 cents

It's a real hard thing to deal with as everybody is expecting a bubbly happy pup. Then everyone thinks there is something wrong with the pup cos she is afraid. The whole focus is on the pup and all eyes are on it. It is stress for the pup and will make it worse.

I would ask the guests to ignore the pup and not try to rub her or give her treats etc. Get the dog used to people coming and going and not interacting with her. Then she will start to calm down when people enter. When she is ready she will go to the visitors to have a sniff. Still i'd advise the visitors to not go good gurl and try rub her head until she is very used to them. Ignore means no eye contact, touch or talking.

It is hard because everybody will want to come and see and play with the new pup.

How comfortable is the pup with you. Does she flinch a little when you rub her head?

The way i see these fearful pups is that they see us humans as predators which we are and they don't trust us so easily. When someone comes in all loud and tries to put there hand over the dogs head to rub them the dog reacts in fear, by growling and barking so the hand doesn't grab them. The dog isn't comfortable with this interaction and wants it to stop. This will develop into fear aggression if you don't handle it well.

Watch how the pup reacts to people who are cool and don't interact with the pup. She will probably respect them more. Don't coddle a fearful pup. Don't rush her or expect this to go away quickly. It will take time and effort. Do try to socialize the pup but don't continue to put it in situations where it reacts badly.

Sometimes it's better to remove the pup from stressful situations and let her develop some confidence before seeing the big bad world. You can crate her in the home so she sees and smells the visitors without the stress of interacting with them

As has been said try to get her into a puppy class. She will start to trust the people and dogs there and she will get confidence from this.

The food will be a bridge for you too as you've seen. But if the pup doesn't respect or is fear of the guest she shouldn't be fed. When she relaxes then feed her treats. First she should be allowed sniff the guest with out the fear of being rubbed. Then she will trust that the guest are of no threat to her and will relax.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 05:27 PM
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MsBubbles you're in the right place. There are lots of threads here about "socialization" of puppies. Please search that word and read as many as you can.

The short version is that the two posts above this are both very true--you have to get the pup in a class with an instructor who knows how to handle this problem, and you will have to work daily with the pup to overcome its fear of people. You can do this, but it will take LOTS of patience as you have to move in baby steps gently exposing the dog to strangers over a long period of time to get the dog to re-think an approaching person as a pleasant thing rather than a threatening thing. This is a difficult task to do on top of all the other intensive puppy training needed, but you have to do it or you will have a fear-aggressive mature dog in two years. Please keep us advised of your progress, as that will help others who come here after you learn, also!

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 05:58 PM
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First, she is a puppy. Fiona was just like this when she was that age. I was worried, but she grew out of it. She gets training 3x a week and lots of socialization. Make sure you don't feed her fear by trying to comfort her by telling her it is ok.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 06:07 PM
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My 3 month old pup seems to be wary of people, but its selective. For instance, my parents came over to meet him when I got him, and no problem. He went up to them both with no issue. My brother came over the other day to see him, and he wouldn't go anywhere near my brother. When we went for a walk, I passed two neighbors and both times he stopped and became fearful. I just gave the leash a slight tug, and he continued to walk. I didn't want to pet him or do anything that might encourage his fear. As soon as he gets his check up at the vet, he will be attending a class or two every month, just depends on the cost.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Ok thank you everyone for the helpful advice. I have signed her up for classes and we start this sunday.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 06:55 AM
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a pup showing these signs definitely needs careful work. great that you are going to classes. i once you learn how to handle these situations, i would pick a few places every week where peple are. parkinglots, etc. set up situations and bring yummie food. i wouldn't force anyone on the pup if he shows signs of being scared, but, i also would not take him away. putting him in a different mode, play with him etc. i would keep him in classes and keep working with this at least for the first year or so, see how he is at that point. after that its always good to keep them into something around people and dogs.

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 09:10 AM
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I have a shopping plaza by my house and I walked mine through it everyday from the first day I brought her home. She is not nervous at all. Start with puppy class, and keep her around people.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 09:40 AM
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Vandy is afraid of everything outside of our house. From people to little dogs. Though it is somewhat embarrassing since she's no small puppy lol I ignore it. I keep walking and, I do not let people touch her. I don't want to reinforce her belief that everyone wants to touch her or get close to her. She has gotten a lot better at this. We also teach her that what she's afraid of might not be so scary. We started taking her to a dog park regularly. She'd stay close to us at first but, then would stay on the heels of our other dog. Now after several weeks she runs around and, greets everyone. She's cautious but, not afraid.
Last night I let her outside and my boyfriend had just gotten off his motorcycle and still had his helmet on. He was several meters away but once she noticed she gave a tiny growl and, backed into my legs. To see
how much she's changed I told him not to walk forward but, waive his arms. She did sprint behind me but, barked her disapproval. She never tried to go inside and, never stopped investigating. As soon as he took the helmet off she ran to him and, loved him up. She put her head completely into his helmet and, started inspecting the object of her fear.
While hilarious and, very cute you could see a massive difference in her behavior from the last several weeks. Soon I'm going to start using the command "go see" so she'll know she can cautiously check out something new that she might just avoid forever lol
Give her some time and, keep putting her in the right situations. Confidence is absolutely the biggest part of moving past this behavior. Good luck!

Last edited by Fynn&Vandy; 01-17-2013 at 09:45 AM.
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