I need some help socializing and/or bringing my baby's confidence up.
I have an almost 6 month old pup named Stevie and she's very scared of other dogs and strangers. When new people come in to our house, she'll bark at them and back up but then curiosity gets the better of her and she'll warm up to them and all is good.
This isn't the case with people she meets outside our house; she barks and tries to run away. Same thing with other dogs - if she hears one bark, she wants to go home or get away as far and quickly as possible.
I've read about feeding her treats while another dog or person passes by so she associates them with something good (treats) but lately, that hasn't worked. I try to stick a treat in her mouth and she ignores me, completely fixated on the other dog. I think this is because she's lost quite a few teeth all at once and her mouth hurts so she doesn't want them, but that's just an assumption.
The last week or so, I've taken her over by the dog park a few times to get her used to being around other dogs. We do NOT go inside the fence with all the other dogs as I know that would be a disaster. We walk outside the fence (as there a lot of grassy fields with a children's playground and baseball diamonds) so she's aware there are other dogs but she's a safe distance from them. When we first get there, I'll park the car and roll the windows down so she can watch everything for a few minutes before actually getting out and walking around. I recently started doing this so I haven't noticed much change, which is fine, I just need some reassurance that I'm going about this the correct way and not adding more stress to my baby.
I know she's more of an introvert (like myself), so I'm not trying to force her to be a social butterfly I'd just like her to be able to ignore dogs and continue doing her thing without getting scared.
The main reason why this concerns me so much is that we're going to the beach in June and she LOVES water and I want her to enjoy herself without worrying about the other dogs and people at the beach.
Sorry for the long post, but any help is greatly appreciated! I worry about this a lot!!