Bailey is very anxious/scared in public settings and around strangers. Advice? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2014, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Bailey is very 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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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2014, 12:04 AM
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When passing by people or things she is not used to like a tricycle, using calming, soothing voice and whatever you want to say to indicate its "OK", distract with a treat or toy, walk in a wide arc around the "thing", you can put yourself between the person or thing so she's not next to it, soother her and rub her chest. Sit someplace where there is a lot of activity but where you can keep a safe distance and have soothing voice, treats and petting.

My pup went through fear stages where she did not want to walk more than two houses away from ours, things like surfboards or backpacks would freak her out. We live in a densely populated area and with frequent exposure she did learn to ignore or accept these things, it did take a while, she needed to mature. Just don't push her if she is really uncomfortable somewhere.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2014, 12:10 AM
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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 and don't keep forcing her into really scary situations hoping exposure will be enough. It will only teach her the world is a very scary place.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2014, 08:49 AM
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Please check out the threads on this forum about socialization, especially:
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2014, 09:10 AM
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Oops hit enter too fast - there is a ton of helpful info on the forum about socializing puppies if you use the search tab above, and check out the Leerburg site too. Sorry this got truncated, I had more to share but I gotta go to work!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2014, 09:38 AM
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2014, 09:57 AM
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This advice *is just my opinion* but if you are comfortable about walking your dog around your neighborhood and know it well, I would continue to do so. We took our dog out against our vets advice, but at the suggestion of our breeder to places we felt were safe. One place to socialize was at the breeder's because we know all the dogs were well cared for and vaccinated and she was born there. I have lived in my neighborhood for 15 yrs when we got Molly, I knew the dogs and people, and felt safe. Molly ended up meeting another puppy about her age and now she is 4 and they are still great friends. She was not really interested meeting people at this age.

Just as you already know, the more busy places like petstores, dog parks, beaches, downtown areas should wait until fully vaccinated.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-28-2014, 10:11 PM
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My pup was the same way when I got him, and now he is very open with people (for a GSD anyways )
I did it by making strangers walking treat dispensers. I also did not baby him when he became scared; this made him learn he had nothing to be afraid of. We frequently just watched people as well, and I think this helped him big time. When I first got him, he ran from people or hid behind me. He now approaches people if they solicit it with his tail wagging....even gives some people a little play bark and bow
However, your pup is young...I wouldn't expect progress so fast. Be careful you don't over do it. I would suggest letting her watch people for now, and letting people give her treats (from YOUR pocket only of course). She is young, no need to quickly force her in to loving people. Give her time, she will be fine Do not worry about it. You have nothing to worry about.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-28-2014, 11:20 PM
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Go to post 8 a lot of links:

I did " Who Pets my Puppy or Dog" move on and ignore I did not have 'strangers' giving my dog treats. He turned out just fine, I taught him how he is expected to behave.

In essence it is move on and ignore, nothing to see here! Works with dogs and people! Keep moving, no sitting or down no corrections just keep moving!

And for pete's sake no Dog Parks no "I thought my dog was friendly folks!!!!" See "Why Dog Parks are a Bad idea"

And here is another take on "people issues post 12 posted by a mod:

Your vet is correct! Until she is "completely" vaccinated she "is" at risk for Parvo! I did not know that with my pups and Parvo was around I got lucky with two (partially vaccinated puppies) and not so much with a third!

If you take here around where other dogs have been and one of them has Parvo... you are putting her at risk! Pretty much as simple as that!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-29-2014, 09:26 AM
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Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt has really helped me a lot and given me more confidence working with my 16 wk old puppy. She has books and DVDs.

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