Working on desensitizing a dog to anything is generally going to make everything worse unless you improve the relationship bond first. And training, obedience, rally, agility, nosework, flyball -- it doesn't matter, anything that improves the bond of trust between the dog and the handler. Evenmore helpful if you can do a lot of it privately until things are smoother, and then in a group setting, where everyone is controlled by a leash.
First train without distractions, then add in distractions. Too much socilization is done when the puppy has no trust at all in the handler. Some puppies are ok with this because they are at an age when their leeriness of strangers doesn't kick in yet, or the are super confident dogs. But for the less confident dogs, no socialization is better than bad socialization. With less confident dogs, we need to let them relax and get to know us first, then we can go out there and try not to overwhelm the puppy, but going slow.
Instead we have suggestions of 100 persons, places, and things by 16 weeks. Fine for a dog with a solid temperament. They will handle that just fine. For a dog that is less secure, it will overwhelm them. When a puppy is overwhelmed, only some will back up and cower behind their owners. Others will stand out in front growling, barking, snapping, and even biting out of fear. When that happens, then we need to do more than properly socialize the puppy. We need to rehab. Because usually when dog snarls, snaps, barks, lunges, or bites, the object of their reaction generally steps back and gives more distance to the dog. This is EXACTLY what the dog wants. He is rewarded and learns that his bevhavior did what he wanted. It's like a counter-surfer that was rewarded by a big juicy steak. Any dog will be looking up onto that counter for weeks or months after such a tasty reward. And to stop the behavior, sometimes more than an Eh-eh or No! will be necessary. Maybe a very un-pleasent sensation will be necessary to eliminate the behavior.
And so the dog that has gotten what it wants by reactive behavior needs to be corrected. First improve the bond by building trust through training. Manage the environment so that the dog does not have another opportunity to make the negative behavior a habit. And then, with added maturity and a better bond, and improved leadership, it will then be time to decrease the distance between the problem and the dog. And if the dog does react, a quick correction, and moving on. Repeat. And then enough for one day. Take it slow, this is not a race. The dog will probably need to be corrected a few times, before he has enough exposure to figure out that he survives these people.
Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.