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Hoping for some advice for my young mixed 8 m/o puppy. I’ve got her at the rescue at 9 weeks


1) She is nervous of kids (ages 6-10ish). I work upstairs at a building that has kids downstairs during after school hours, she stays in my office where no kids are allowed. During imprinting period, she was exposed to lots of kids. Brought her to a youth bike race in a backpack and allowed greetings, met all the kids at work, etc. However, the only thing I may not have been on top of enough was preemptively making sure she didn’t feel overwhelmed, though if she went to move away from kids petting her, we left immediately. As an example of her behavior now, when we walk downstairs to exit the building, she HUSTLES out, generally with her tail tucked. No growl/teeth, just wants to be in quiet ASAP. I don’t let work kids pet her because she is clearly freaked.

I’m thinking my best plan of attack may be to sit with her at a location kids are nearby and treat for calm behavior. Then build up to a mindful, calm older child treating but not petting her. Then treating and petting. Thoughts?

2) She is nervous of imposing/tall men. This one is probably warranted, but still. For example,we frequently walk the bike path in the morning and frequently walk by a tall/heavy man wearing lots of layers, with a backpack, snowshoes and sometimes hiking poles. I leash her, and she generally stands very alert, kind of jumps in place a bit and scurries around me with no particular direction. I have been working to have her sit and “look at me” and “touch” (my finger with her nose) to keep attention off man and on rewarding with treats. Is this a reasonable methodology?

For what it’s worth, a tall man she had never met before wearing a very puffy jacket stopped by work yesterday. She gave one bark, paced in place for a second then I gave her permission to say hi, and she sniffed them quickly was friends, begging for attention.
 

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Hi , our dog has been much the same, we had him as a pup and everything was ok and at about the same age as your dog he got really nervous. But we have been using the same techniques you mention the 'look at me' the rewards . The gradual introduction of new things places and objects into his life and it is paying off.
Whereas a few months ago he would have barked like mad at a cyclist or hiker, someone with a big bag or trolley he now stops and will nudge us as if to say 'hey Ive been good wheres my treat'?
He is now ok with most people esp if they have a dog and so we have been making a point of stopping to say hi to people just for a few seconds but then moving on and rewarding for calm behaviour.

Strangly the same method works on our second dog who we adopted last year, he was used to being chained in a yard and running to the fence and barking to get attention, so he thought the best way to greet anyone and everyone was with a volley of barks, we have taught him that as long as he remains calm and doesnt bark he is allow to greet, if he barks we simply walk on and dont allow him to greet the person or dog. Its taken a few months but he is becoming a much happier and more social dog. Greeting people in a calm and normal fashion.
 

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The dog is fearful. That part is genetic. The problem was exacerbated by letting every Tom, Dick and Harry pet the dog when the dog was a baby. Socialization is NOT letting every one pet the puppy. It IS getting the puppy out and about and advocating for your puppy by NOT letting everyone pet the dog. Most strangers lean over the puppy.. which is very threatening.

With a tail tucked, the dog is AFRAID. Get between the dog and the kids or people in general. You dog is still a little kid. Let your dog know you have her back. Letting her hang out and get touched is NOT advocating for her. She will, if left to her own devices either run or bite at some point.

If you had a toddler, would you let every person you see come over and touch your kid? Probably not. Same with a puppy.

The genetic fear is there. Now you have to build a relationship with your dog such that the dog understands you are the reliable partner if the dog has questions. Start by NOT letting people touch her and getting between her and people in general. Get her focus on you and make being with you both fun and safe. Keep her away from strange kids or groups of kids. Don't ever force the issue.

The minute that tail tucks you need to get your dog out of the situation. She leaves with it tucked for fear someone is going to touch her.
 

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Hey, for what it's worth, I totally get what it's like to be afraid of dogs. I'm 26 and was pretty much deathly afraid of them to a pretty similar degree as you were until maybe like... three, four years ago. The whole 'holy crap it could rip my throat out' thing makes perfect sense. I'm not gonna say it's a stupid fear because it's not, but there are ways to get over it if you're interested.
Nox Vidmate VLC
 

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Hey, for what it's worth, I totally get what it's like to be afraid of dogs. I'm 26 and was pretty much deathly afraid of them to a pretty similar degree as you were until maybe like... three, four years ago. The whole 'holy crap it could rip my throat out' thing makes perfect sense. I'm not gonna say it's a stupid fear because it's not, but there are ways to get over it if you're interested.
The OP is not the one afraid of other dogs, their dog is.
 
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