Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I have a 4 month old puppy (maltese) that doesn't let any stranger get near her/me. At first I thought she was terrified of strangers but I socialized her as a puppy and then a friend of mine told me it could be because she's guarding me and I am not her leader.

How do I fix this? I have taught her sit, stay, lay down as obedience tricks and I make her do these when she gets her meals or smth but my family gives her TOO MUCH love because they don't know much about owning a dog and they don't have time when I try to explain it to them not to give her free love. Anyways, what are some steps I can take to become her leader without having to pay a trainer to fix this?

Thank you in advance!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,849 Posts
I expect you'll get more advice from people more qualified than I, but I'll start the ball rolling.
You need to get her to associate strangers with good things. Does she have favorite foods? Or toys? Can you get some 'strangers' to help you by arriving and giving her things that she loves?
I don't think this has anything to do with leadership. My experience with Malteses (I ran a boarding kennel) is that they often have some strong guarding instincts and can be pretty nasty, given their size, to people they don't know. You need to soften the natural instinct, and I think positive associations with unfamiliar people is the better approach.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
813 Posts
Yes, this has nothing to do with leadership and more to do with poor socialization. Your puppy is still very young, carry treats wherever you go with her and make every friendly stranger come say hi and give her a treat. I've been bitten by several Maltese with a similar aversion to strangers, but you have time to properly socialize your dog before it becomes more difficult.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
337 Posts
Yes, this has nothing to do with leadership and more to do with poor socialization.
Not necessarily true if the problem is inherent in nature. Especially given the fact that at 4mo, this is still a very young puppy and aggression due to improper socialization tends to show up or get worse when a dog hits adolescence.

Anyways, OP, you really need to ditch the leadership approach to it. While NILIF is great to follow, especially for certain individual dogs, not doing it isn't going to create a problem in and of itself. You don't really offer enough specifics to give direct advice, but I do think you should consult with a professional even though it will put a dent in the bank account. Since you're dealing with a problem in a young puppy here and not an adult, it's important to address that now as it will be easier to work with and the longer it goes on the more ingrained it becomes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,658 Posts
Not necessarily true if the problem is inherent in nature. Especially given the fact that at 4mo, this is still a very young puppy and aggression due to improper socialization tends to show up or get worse when a dog hits adolescence.

Anyways, OP, you really need to ditch the leadership approach to it. While NILIF is great to follow, especially for certain individual dogs, not doing it isn't going to create a problem in and of itself. You don't really offer enough specifics to give direct advice, but I do think you should consult with a professional even though it will put a dent in the bank account. Since you're dealing with a problem in a young puppy here and not an adult, it's important to address that now as it will be easier to work with and the longer it goes on the more ingrained it becomes.
Poor socialization explains it in part - "leadership" doesn't explain the fear (or guarding) at all.

Many puppies go through natural fear periods where they become fearful of things that they may have previously had no reaction to.

The methods for "fixing" fear or guarding are different. If it is fear of strangers, by all means, have them feed her super yummy treats. The strangers feeding her treats won't necessarily help with guarding though. I think to really help with guarding, the best approach is to remove the thing that she is guarding when she guards it, which I understand may be difficult for the OP to do when out on walks, etc. so it would have to be set up as a specific training exercise that is probably left best to professionals.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,302 Posts
but my family gives her TOO MUCH love because they don't know much about owning a dog and they don't have time when I try to explain it to them not to give her free love.
"Too much love" ??? Does that actually exist ??? I don't think so. And regardless, I don't think that has anything to do with your problem.

For leadership, one thing that might be beneficial is for your pup to SEE you interact with strangers (stop, shake hands, chat briefly, smile and laugh etc) under safely controlled circumstances, while reinforcing appropriate non-reactions with tidbits of food for example. Dogs take the majority of their cues from us and how we handle situations.

As far as getting a trainer to fix this, it would be better if you took the initiative yourself. Consult with a trainer, for sure, but have them show you exercises and techniques that YOU can apply on your own throughout the course of each day. If anything that's what will help to establish leadership and instill confidence in your pup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,384 Posts
how does your pup respond going forward or going backwards, going out in front or going behind... if it is a natural breed trait for being confident, guarding/distrusting then it's nothing wrong with the dog/pup continue on with building your OB skills together and use those skills on how you deal with and maneuver through public and public places.. I expect my dogs to have excellent OB skills in public (manners), not for them to like anyone.. tolerance is very different then acceptance so you truly have to decide and define what your looking for in the breed that you have..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
337 Posts
Poor socialization explains it in part - "leadership" doesn't explain the fear (or guarding) at all.
Yeah, I was referring to the socialization part and not leadership haha. Just meant to say generally that proper socialization doesn't fix all potential problems and improper socialization isn't necessarily the cause of all problems. Agreed with all you've said especially on the fear vs guarding. Another reason it'd be best to consult a professional, imo, as they can better tell which one it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,145 Posts
Be careful with pushing her to take treats directly from strangers, though. It's fine for some puppies, but it is very high pressure for others and can backfire. If she seems uncomfortable, YOU feed her treats while she can see strangers but before she actually reacts to them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Yes, this has nothing to do with leadership and more to do with poor socialization. Your puppy is still very young, carry treats wherever you go with her and make every friendly stranger come say hi and give her a treat. I've been bitten by several Maltese with a similar aversion to strangers, but you have time to properly socialize your dog before it becomes more difficult.
I carry treats when I am walking her and she will take treats from a stranger but as soon as they want to touch her she will try to bite them. Another situation is when I took her to beach last week and I was with my family under a shade. She barked and growled at everyone that was walking too close. Sometimes when she was sleeping under the chair, as soon as she heard footsteps she woke up barking at them and sometimes even trying to chase them (away)...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Not necessarily true if the problem is inherent in nature. Especially given the fact that at 4mo, this is still a very young puppy and aggression due to improper socialization tends to show up or get worse when a dog hits adolescence.

Anyways, OP, you really need to ditch the leadership approach to it. While NILIF is great to follow, especially for certain individual dogs, not doing it isn't going to create a problem in and of itself. You don't really offer enough specifics to give direct advice, but I do think you should consult with a professional even though it will put a dent in the bank account. Since you're dealing with a problem in a young puppy here and not an adult, it's important to address that now as it will be easier to work with and the longer it goes on the more ingrained it becomes.
All the trainers in my area use the Cesar Millan methods and I am not comfortable with that. I want to use positive reinforcement. There are many opinions in the internet about this and the most common one was that I am not her leader and she feels insecure. If you need more specifics and if you can help please message me because I really need help.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Be careful with pushing her to take treats directly from strangers, though. It's fine for some puppies, but it is very high pressure for others and can backfire. If she seems uncomfortable, YOU feed her treats while she can see strangers but before she actually reacts to them.
She takes treats from strangers but she doesn't allow them to touch her at all. She will immediately try to bite them...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,849 Posts
Any way you can convey STRANGERS = GOOD should help. If there is something other than treats she adores, use it. Toys, cuddling, getting picked up, praise . . . doesn't matter so long as she views it as a reward. You need to get it programmed into her that a stranger coming means something good is going to happen. If you can do this . . . and it may require patience and doing it little by little . . . you should end up with a dog that welcomes strangers. Of course, you want to minimize blood drawn from your visitors ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
337 Posts
Yeah, sounds more like fearful behavior as opposed to guarding. She could just be going through a fear period.

What somebody else mentioned is sometimes referred to as open bar/closed bar and I'd also recommend using it. You can google it and should find a Youtube video that demonstrates it (I think one has a Dobe that is pretty good). Take other people directly interacting with her out of the equation completely right now. She needs to feel sure that she doesn't *have* to interact with everybody, that should help her feel more at ease around new people. Plus, if this is more than just a phase, the long-term goal should be that she's able to ignore strangers. You'll just have to know that you need to be proactive about not letting other people say hi to her and respect her space. You can also do LAT training (Look At That) and BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training). You can find a lot of helpful articles online that will be able to go more in-depth that me.

I'd say start off with LAT and Open Bar/Closed Bar. You'll need a lot of patience and even if things are going good, don't push her. Let us know if things don't improve.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,145 Posts
No matter what you do, you may never end up with a dog who welcomes strangers, so be careful of your expectations. Just like people can be naturally outgoing, shy, or whatever... so can dogs, it's partly genetic.

I think it's reasonable to start with a goal of her not being afraid of strangers and work up from there. Personally, I would drop little treats for her when you encounter or chat with strangers, but don't let them try to pet her. Right now that scares her, so she needs to trust that it won't happen. Later when she is more comfortable overall you can try again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
788 Posts
Hi,

I have a 4 month old puppy (maltese) that doesn't let any stranger get near her/me. At first I thought she was terrified of strangers but I socialized her as a puppy and then a friend of mine told me it could be because she's guarding me and I am not her leader.

How do I fix this? I have taught her sit, stay, lay down as obedience tricks and I make her do these when she gets her meals or smth but my family gives her TOO MUCH love because they don't know much about owning a dog and they don't have time when I try to explain it to them not to give her free love. Anyways, what are some steps I can take to become her leader without having to pay a trainer to fix this?

Thank you in advance!
At 4 months old, the dog isn't socialized. It's a young puppy. The leader thing is a load of rubbish.

Take your dog to obedience training. It costs $100-150 and your dog can learn things there that they can't elsewhere.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,658 Posts
Yeah, I was referring to the socialization part and not leadership haha. Just meant to say generally that proper socialization doesn't fix all potential problems and improper socialization isn't necessarily the cause of all problems. Agreed with all you've said especially on the fear vs guarding. Another reason it'd be best to consult a professional, imo, as they can better tell which one it is.
When we talk about socialization, we are also assuming that the OP did socialize her properly (letting the dog get comfortable, no flooding, etc. and not just forcing the dog to interact with as many people as possible). The pup shouldn't be "forced" to take treats, but instead should be reward for interacting with strangers, e.g. for looking at them or walking towards them.

If she is trying to bite immediately after eating the treat because the people try to pet her - don't let them pet her. It usually takes more than one treat to build a fearful dog's confidence and trust, and a lot of dogs don't like to be touched by people that they don't trust - just like people.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top