Puppy showing fear meeting people and dogs on a walk
So puppy is 16 weeks old and training is going well. He has been to town to be exposed to other people and dogs, but we live in the middle of the forest so most of the time we go for walks without meeting anyone. For the first time today we first met two lads with a big gsd they lay down on top of to keep calm, very considerate! Then a minute later we met a couple. It did not go great and I'm wondering what I should have done differently, what I should do next time and what sort of training I should do to improve puppy's confidence in this type of scenario.
In short we noticed the two lads with their dog about 100 m out. We were practicing walking at a loose heel. Click and treat at my ankles every few steps. He is better in our yard, but out and about all the strange smells distract him so I try to make it easier. When he noticed the dog he froze. I decided it was best to just stay relaxed and keep doing what we were doing, maybe I should have turned or gone off piste to create distance? He got more and more scared as we got closer. Refusing to follow me despite having chicken to treat him with. Woofed twice when we got right up close. Took bloody ages to get passed them! When we were right next to them he scampered behind me clearly terrified. Then straight afterwards another couple came passed us. This was quick, but he was scared again. Really regretting pushing him to be do uncomfortable. Advice much appreciated!