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Discussion Starter #1
i have an almost four month old male who seems very wary of just about everybody. i took him to the metroparks yesterday, and we passed about seven or eight people and he barked at just about every single person --- and not his usual playful or "i'm happy to see you" bark, it was as if he was trying to protect me. normally i would have stopped the people and asked them to pet him, but just about everyone seemed scared of him except for a group of kids, who stopped and petted him (which he was fine with, licking them and seemed very happy/excited).

i've brought many random people into my house, taken him everywhere with me, had many strangers pet him in pet stores, etc...working my behind off to socialize him basically, but he's still just so wary of about everyone. if he doesn't bark (which is rare), he will simply just freeze up. is he protecting me, is it fear, or aggression? is this something i should be worried about in such a young pup?

what can i do to stop this? what i've been doing is placing him in a sit position, telling him no, and holding his muzzle...and having the person approach when they didn't seem frightened of him. he still doesn't stop barking when i do that though, and i lightly tap him on the nose but he still just doesn't stop. it's like he's in full on protection mode and isn't going to stop unless he's absolutely certain the person isn't a threat.

what should i do?
 

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Do not hold his muzzle or tap his nose when he is reactive, it will just ramp him up. If you correct him when he is acting out, he may think the correction is caused by what he is reacting to, and that just backfires.
He is probably going thru a fear period, and you need to build his confidence right now, not take it away. Redirect his focus on people with toys or treats and by watching his body language STOP it before he reacts. Ignore his outbursts and do not comfort him if he shows hesitation or fear, that will tell him it is ok to act that way.
There are many threads on fear behavior, I'd take a look at them for more insight.
Are you in any formal training classes? That is a good way to socialize him in a structured environment, and training is a good way to build up the dogs confidence. Praise him, play with him, make him think he is the best thing in your world.
 

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we had this same problem with my 6 month old, starting when she was 4 months old-ish.
Turns out, she was barking to make herself seem scary to the thing that was "threatening" her (just strangers, even if they were friendly) so that nothing took advantage of her, so to speak.
What I did was took her around dogs/people that I knew were friendly, knew how to approach a dog, and weren't afraid of her barking at them- and gave them treats. While walking up to the person, if she barked i just put her in sit, when she focused on me i'd give her a treat, and did that until she was totally calm around strangers. We're still working on it but she's SO much better now!
I would also jerk skylars leash, hold her muzzle or pull her passed people and it was making the situation worse, she doesn't know that i'm doing it because she's scaring people, it probably made her feel like they were a threat and she actually started pulling AWAY from people, i did that all to her without knowing i was hurting her.
So, make sure that every encounter with people is a positive one.

I'm not an expert, and skylar is my first dog that's all my responsibility, but that's my experience. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the good advice from both of you. Ill try treats or toys, but he's more driven by praise than anything else (which is hard to administer while he's doing the negative behavior). Its nothing serious at the moment but is obviously something I need to correct before it is an issue. I haven't been involved in any formal training with him, I can't find a trainer that meets my schedule where I can consistently take him yet other than private in home trainers that I cannot afford. He is very consistently obedient and I make every effort to socialize him though, and I'm currently looking for dog hiking groups in my area, as this is really the only issue I have had with him, even with his young age.
 
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