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and I'm bringing my pup down with me. :( This is my first time getting a pup so young and I've read everywhere that the window of opportunity for puppy socialization is right before they're 12 weeks. We got her at 11 and didn't take the time to take her out everywhere. We just worked on forming a bond, getting to know her, potty training, and car riding places. I thought I had time then(and didn't know about the 12 week window). I've been taking her to the farmer's market to see people. Now, at 19 weeks she is still scared of all strangers. She'll take treats from their hands but that is it, and sometimes even that is done with a lot of barking. She did better a couple of days ago at the pet shop, a lady that has been very patient with us, gave Pippa a few treats and she didn't bark until someone walking into the store behind her startled her. Pippa also didn't back away after having got the treat. :) I've been taking her places, post office, library, gas station, parking lots, farmer's market, and in town where we walk by stores and watch people coming and going. Since school has started, I know children will be out in the parks more so I plan on taking her there too. She's gets excited each time I take her out and I've noticed she's getting a bit more confident, but with people it feels like we're getting no where. I just don't know what to do. I see other people with puppies and theirs will walk up to a complete stranger to be petted. A guy commented that my pup was probably the "untrustful" type and would remain. Another lady came up to me and said she would never get a puppy from a shelter because they all ended up unstable(not her words exactly, but I got the gist). I've had some people tell me that she'll probably grow up to be dangerous and that I should have been spanking her for barking at them(that I would NEVER DO). I don't want her to be just another shelter failure, but I feel like I'm failing her. She's really smart(knows, target training, bark on command, heel, sit, stay, come, leave it, drop it, get in your bed, shake, sits at the door to be let out, only gets on the couch when invited, spin[she loves this, you should see her fly]). She has a wonderful personalty(its why I choose her), but- besides those I live with, I'm the only one seeing it and its like we're confirming everyone's thoughts about shelter pups/dogs. :(

My question is, have I ruined my dog? And is there any chance now that I've messed up for her ever to like other people or is it too late?
 

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As soon as I read the title to this thread, I immediately said to myself "No your not." So before I even read it, I'm telling you now: No, you're not.

This is my first time getting a pup so young and I've read everywhere that the window of opportunity for puppy socialization is right before they're 12 weeks.
Many many many people don't socialize their puppies before they are fully vaccinated, which normally doesn't happen within that window. So right off the bat, keep that in mind. Now me, I socialized from 10 weeks, and she was already being socialized before we even got her.. but that was just my decision and frankly it remains controversial. You are actually in the norm.


We got her at 11 and didn't take the time to take her out everywhere. We just worked on forming a bond, getting to know her, potty training, and car riding places.
These are good things :) See, not a total failure.

I thought I had time then(and didn't know about the 12 week window). I've been taking her to the farmer's market to see people. Now, at 19 weeks she is still scared of all strangers. She'll take treats from their hands but that is it, and sometimes even that is done with a lot of barking. She did better a couple of days ago at the pet shop, a lady that has been very patient with us, gave Pippa a few treats and she didn't bark until someone walking into the store behind her startled her. Pippa also didn't back away after having got the treat. :)
Sounds like progress to me!

I've been taking her places, post office, library, gas station, parking lots, farmer's market, and in town where we walk by stores and watch people coming and going. Since school has started, I know children will be out in the parks more so I plan on taking her there too.
Good, good, all good... waiting for the "total failure" part of this post.

She's gets excited each time I take her out and I've noticed she's getting a bit more confident, but with people it feels like we're getting no where. I just don't know what to do. I see other people with puppies and theirs will walk up to a complete stranger to be petted.
Trust me, not all dogs are the same! Some dogs are more reserved by breed or by nature. Consider people for a moment, me in particular: I'm not a people person. I'm pretty reserved, anxious, and I'll avoid people like the plague usually ;) Why? Well that's just my personality.

A guy commented that my pup was probably the "untrustful" type and would remain.
It's possible but at 19 weeks I wouldn't resign to this just yet. The pup is still young.

Currently at 20 weeks, Samantha LOVES people.. but is afraid/reserved with other dogs. This is despite our socializing her with people AND dogs since 10 weeks. So this just goes to show you that it doesn't always pan out exactly as you plan it even if you do start very, very early.

Another lady came up to me and said she would never get a puppy from a shelter because they all ended up unstable(not her words exactly, but I got the gist).
This just isn't true, though I will admit that often dogs in shelters come with their share of "issues" you may have to work through, but it doesn't mean that's the way they will always be.

I've had some people tell me that she'll probably grow up to be dangerous and that I should have been spanking her for barking at them(that I would NEVER DO).
Those people are what I like to call WRONG.

I don't want her to be just another shelter failure, but I feel like I'm failing her.
So let's go over it and see where you fail.

You worked on bonding with her and on her training like potty and car rides, and most people would say you also kept her safe from picking up strange diseases from her environment early on. You now take her everywhere with you to work on her socialization. You can recognize where she needs improvement and you're also recognizing where there's progress, like when she didn't back away after a treat.

You sound like a success to me.



She has a wonderful personalty(its why I choose her), but- besides those I live with, I'm the only one seeing it and its like we're confirming everyone's thoughts about shelter pups/dogs. :(
If you are the only one who ever sees it.. would that be so bad? That should at least know that you are most definitely not a failure. Your dog trusts you and is comfortable with you enough to show her true inside personality. That is, if nothing else, a success. You've given a stable environment to a shelter-dog who needed a home and you've earned this dog's trust and companionship.

That's huge.

My question is, have I ruined my dog? And is there any chance now that I've messed up for her ever to like other people or is it too late?
You haven't ruined your dog. And I strongly believe it is never too late. I also believe this has nothing to do with not socializing her at 11 weeks either... nothing at all. I think that this dog has a reserved personality perhaps by nature, or perhaps has been through something in her past that was traumatic. If you as a child were abandoned to a foster facility, would you not grow up with "issues" after all? But would you not also perhaps be able to overcome those issues with the right people, and with time and patience? Perhaps it will never be 100% healed, but improvement... sure, there can be improvement.

Just hang in there and be consistent. Provide all the love, training, and care to your dog and keep on trying.

Most of all: Never consider yourself a failure.
 

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sendiulino, +1 Yeah, right on, what he said.
I agree with all!

And as far as rescue dogs go......I have rescued three dogs in the last 10 years.....and they had a few issues that were all worked through. I am working on one right now.....and she is shaping up excellently. The other two rescues whom I rescued for two of my Sisters are great! One has an issue with thunderstorms still after 7 years....but we use a natural herb medication for her and all is well.

What that woman said about "all" rescue dogs upsets me. She sure shows how much she knows by generalizing that way! Every dog is different. Owners help to form their dogs. If you do the best you possibly can then you have not to worry about what other people say negatively to you.


You are not a failure! Just keep up the good work! Your pup is just that yet.....a "Pup"!.........still learning!
 

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Sounds like she's either just a naturally shy dog or is going through a fear phase right now. Remember socialization is not just about lots of experiences with strange people and situations, it's about making it a positive experience. Wherever you go, try to make it fun for her with lots of treats, toys and attention! Also know your dog's body language so you know when she's had enough. If you continue to try to force her to get socialization when she's overstressed, it's going to backfire.

You're doing great, just whatever you do don't give up! It will only get worse if you do. Enroll her in obedience and agility classes if you can. Oh and don't forget to socialize her with the vet cuz if you don't you will regret it for the next 15 years or so. :/
 

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The only time you fail your dog is when you quit, when you allow yourself to be convinced 'it can't be done' (whatever 'it' is). My old Shepherd was declared a failure... I trained her anyway, she was certified in 3 fields. I was told dobermanns can't do real work... I had 3 certified & did work with authorities. In fact, my two dogs whom I was told at every turn were 'worthless' were the dogs I used when the big boys with the badges told me something couldn't be done. I took my worthless dogs & succeeded where their own service dogs failed... then we taught the boys how to get their dogs to work like mine.

Now having said that if there is a physical issue or if the dog has been damaged & the dog can't manage, that's one thing. I find there are a lot fewer dogs who are hopeless cases than there are handlers to bring them. The dog works to the level of the handler. Period. So if you're upset or miserable or feeling like a failure, your dog can't help. I would find myself 2 friends. We'd set this up in the park & do set up lessons with friends you can trust not to work against what you're trying to gain. I'd get her okay with a couple of people.

You'll be okay just as soon as you kick that 'feeling like a failure' to the curb. Don't put that on you or your dog. It's no good.
 

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and I'm bringing my pup down with me. :( This is my first time getting a pup so young and I've read everywhere that the window of opportunity for puppy socialization is right before they're 12 weeks. We got her at 11 and didn't take the time to take her out everywhere.
There's no set deadline to socializing your dog. Sure, the earlier is always better, but it's not like there's an internal clock in your dog that goes off and says "Socialization is DONE". Socialization continues through out the dog's entire life.

Think about it like this. Your pup was 11 weeks when you got it. It is now 19 weeks old. It has spent more of its life away from you than with you. You should be happy she has accepted you as her family and worry less about her not wanting to give kisses to every stranger she meets.

Oh and at about 4 to 6 months of age dogs often go through a "fearful" stage where they can be very skittish and hesitant of new people and places. This is part of the reason why they say to socialize prior to 12 weeks, because they are much more open to new experiences then and can sometimes shut down for a while. At 6 months they tend to become more open again.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, Sendiulino, everyone! Its nice to know I haven't done everything wrong. I think I've been reading too many books on how it should be(and then seeing how its not) and getting overwhelmed.

I'll not ready to give up(I love this pup too much to ever give up and I was raised getting a pet is like marrying, for better or worse XD ), but my fear is me not doing it all right and her growing a dog I can't trust in public(for some reason or another, its silly, I know).

You're right about her being a reserved dog, I didn't notice this at the time, but she was reserved with us when went to go get her. I thought it was just that she was busy playing with another puppy, but the fact that I had to kinda lure her to me with a treat should have told me something.

Anyways, thanks again for the advice and encouragement! I was starting to think I was the worst pet owner ever. :rolleyes:
 

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If it is overwhelming for her to actually meet new people or take treats from them right now, one thing you can do is simply feed her treats when she sees unfamiliar people at a distance (yay! a person! nomnomnom), and gradually reduce the distance until she is comfortable with them close enough to take treats. Squash went through a period at about this same age where he was spooky of strangers, and this worked really, really well for us. Also, the stranger treats should be really high value treats -- cooked chicken breast worked great for me.
 

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If it is overwhelming for her to actually meet new people or take treats from them right now, one thing you can do is simply feed her treats when she sees unfamiliar people at a distance (yay! a person! nomnomnom), and gradually reduce the distance until she is comfortable with them close enough to take treats. Squash went through a period at about this same age where he was spooky of strangers, and this worked really, really well for us. Also, the stranger treats should be really high value treats -- cooked chicken breast worked great for me.
Great idea! I like that. Normally, when she starts getting skittish I have her look at me and treat, but yours makes more sense. Thanks so much! :)
 

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I say you're doing just fine.

Sendiulino was perfect in what she said.

You're definitely not a failure by any means :) so don't worry about it! Listen to everything Sendiulino said. You're fine :D
 

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Great idea! I like that. Normally, when she starts getting skittish I have her look at me and treat, but yours makes more sense. Thanks so much! :)
My initial instinct was to have him look at me, too, but I've found that when he is unsure about something he likes to just sit and watch it for awhile. So I started to just shovel treats and let him watch. Eventually the phase passed. You'll be ok. :)
 

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My initial instinct was to have him look at me, too, but I've found that when he is unsure about something he likes to just sit and watch it for awhile. So I started to just shovel treats and let him watch. Eventually the phase passed. You'll be ok. :)
What do I do if she growls or barks? Normally I'm able to stop it with a "Shhh" before she barks. I should just stop giving treats then, right? And once she stops growling resume?
 

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Personally, if she growls or barks I would calmly move a little farther away and then ask for her attention. Another skill I find really useful for interrupting/diffusing tension and refocusing their attention on me is a simple targeted hand touch (i.e. the dog touches your hand with its nose). Whenever one of my dogs is getting a bit overwhelmed by something I'll pause, move away from the stimulus, do a few hand touches and attention, and then go back to what we were doing.
 

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Personally, if she growls or barks I would calmly move a little farther away and then ask for her attention. Another skill I find really useful for interrupting/diffusing tension and refocusing their attention on me is a simple targeted hand touch (i.e. the dog touches your hand with its nose). Whenever one of my dogs is getting a bit overwhelmed by something I'll pause, move away from the stimulus, do a few hand touches and attention, and then go back to what we were doing.
Yes! I agree! If your puppy is fussing when you have her a certain distance from the trigger (the person or dog she's upset by), move a bit further away. That way, she'll feel safe enough not to react, and maybe next time (or the next time, or the NEXT time :) ) you can try to be a bit closer.

And, you're only a failure when you let other people make you feel bad about the GREAT work you're doing with your pup! Stop listening to them! :)
 

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Alright, we can do that! :) Most of the time its when she's in the car that she starts growling. I normally make her lay down then so she can't see the people any more and wait for her to relax.
Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for all the advice and responding to the(apt stupid) questions! You've been so helpful! :hug: I can't wait to try this all out!! :)

Everyone has been so helpful and I can't thank ya'll all enough! I think I can do this puppy raising thing now. :D
 

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Update

Well, Pippa's now reached six months and I've resigned myself to the fact that she's just going to be one of those dogs who don't like being touched by strangers.
I had my grandparents over for 4 days to help work with her(I have awesome grandparents ^^) but even then she never got completely comfortable with them(and she's seen them before, we were at their house just a few weeks after we got her). I think if we had another extra week, she would have settle down enough to where they might have gotten to pet her. I'm still taking her out to people watch, specially since it is cooling down a bit. :) She loves the park and we made great head way around kids(just 10 feet away)! I made the mistake of giving in and letting people give her treats(I thought it might help), but in the end it only escalated her into barking and nervousness. So, back to square one again. I'm trying to have patience with myself as well as her(mostly me). I just get frustrated for making mistakes all the time(not giving treats at the right time, not seeing something that would trigger, and so on).
But I tell myself, this is your first puppy. You're learning at the same time she is.
I think I might have made the mistake last week of taking her out while I wasn't feeling well. She and I both like going out, but this time she acted different. I took her to her favorite(and mine too) place, a friendly small pet store. She does great in there and generally ignores both human and dog alike, its become a rarity when she barks, but this time she growled when some one stepped closer to me. :confused: And then pulls me to the entrance, pawing at the door(I was totally shocked). I stepped outside, but we couldn't leave until my ride came back.
Pippa's known these people for months now, and they've approached me numerous times and she's been totally fine. I don't understand it, the lady wasn't even looking at her and Pippa was on the other side of me receiving treats.
Maybe she sensed I wasn't feeling well? That's the only explanation I could think of, but isn't she too young to feel like that or something? I don't know...


On the flip side, my parents and brothers(even the one who is nervous of dogs in general) adore her! :p She is an awesome dog around the house! Definitely a Velcro pup. ^^ Whenever I leave the room, she is right there with me. Pippa's different than any dog I've ever known, she's not... for lack of a better word, selfish. She's never lost in her own little world sniffing or playing, but always pays attention to me. I never thought a dog would be this attentive and cuddly. She's hands down, the best thing that has ever happened to me. Even though at times it is a little stressful, I love her to bits! :D


I've been talking to some trainers lately, one lady told me of genetics, prenatal care, and some other things that will factor in. It kind of makes since, because when we went to see her. She didn't come right up to us. It took me coxing her with peanut butter and even then she didn't want to stay near anyone. We stayed for a couple of hours talking to the foster lady(wealth of information!) and watching Pippa play with an outgoing schnauzer pup(and said pup play with us). It took a while, but she finally came up to me for a pet and more treats. A red flag, I know now, I wouldn't change the fact we got her, but I wish I had the sense to notice this sooner!

Well, I've been tossing the idea around for months now and finally decided to take the "big" step and take her to a dog class. I think she's ready and I totally trust this lady and feel she won't be one of those(I've heard of) that will push Pippa over the edge.

We'll see how it goes. I've got to make an appointment for her spay for next week. Kinda nervous for her, but I'm picking an experienced older man that I know really cares for animals so I think everything will be fine.
 

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Re: Update

Sometimes it isn't you, either. Sometimes it's the dog or aloofness that comes with a breed. Shambles was socialized by the book but he's completely uninterested in people and dogs. He'll play with dogs if he's in an environment with them long enough, but he has no interest in them or people when we're walking or out and about. People will put their hands out for him to smell and he'll maybe offer a glance but then moves on.

Dogs also have off days like us as well. Jack is the most easy going boy but every once in a rare while he's just a snot. We were walking once and we ran into our neighbor and her dog, that Jack is quite fond of, and in a snotty moment he barked, rushed forward, and gave her a jab with his nose. NOT any where near typical Jack behavior.
 

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Re: Update

Good to see an update. Pippa sounds a lot like our dog Poca. We did all the things you're supposed to do with puppies, worked through fear periods, lots of desensitization work, taking her everywhere, meeting lots of people, but we never seemed to make a lot of progress. She's better now because of all the work we've done with her but she still doesn't trust strangers and does not like to be petted by anyone but her favorites. Still, it's pretty manageable.

She was very fearful around our parents at first, too. My dad is 6'3" tall and has a booming voice - just the thing to scare a skittish puppy. But she adores him now. Our parents are her favorite people. They had to completely ignore her, make no eye contact, never approach her, etc. and they tossed a lot of chicken at her, but it's worked out fine. So your grandparents should be fine with her eventually, too.

You just need to change your expectations. She probably won't be fine with all people but she will be fine with the people you care about (family and close friends you see often). And that's workable.

To be honest, I still get a little upset when we encounter people we don't know who want to come in for a pet and I have to block them and tell them that our girl is a little shy of strangers. People are pretty ignorant about fearful dogs and judgmental and it will get to you if you let it. And they'll say really stupid stuff like "Oh, she must have been abused," (like you were the one who did it), and "Oh, all dogs love me! Here, just let me pet her and she'll love me in no time!" or "I wouldn't put up with that cr*p from my dog. Why don't you show her who's boss?" Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh.

I've become really adept at intervening between well-meaning people and my dog while smiling and changing the subject so as not to offend anyone. You know what a great dog she is and that's all that matters.
 

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Re: Update

Good to see an update. Pippa sounds a lot like our dog Poca. We did all the things you're supposed to do with puppies, worked through fear periods, lots of desensitization work, taking her everywhere, meeting lots of people, but we never seemed to make a lot of progress. She's better now because of all the work we've done with her but she still doesn't trust strangers and does not like to be petted by anyone but her favorites. Still, it's pretty manageable.

She was very fearful around our parents at first, too. My dad is 6'3" tall and has a booming voice - just the thing to scare a skittish puppy. But she adores him now. Our parents are her favorite people. They had to completely ignore her, make no eye contact, never approach her, etc. and they tossed a lot of chicken at her, but it's worked out fine. So your grandparents should be fine with her eventually, too.

You just need to change your expectations. She probably won't be fine with all people but she will be fine with the people you care about (family and close friends you see often). And that's workable.

To be honest, I still get a little upset when we encounter people we don't know who want to come in for a pet and I have to block them and tell them that our girl is a little shy of strangers. People are pretty ignorant about fearful dogs and judgmental and it will get to you if you let it. And they'll say really stupid stuff like "Oh, she must have been abused," (like you were the one who did it), and "Oh, all dogs love me! Here, just let me pet her and she'll love me in no time!" or "I wouldn't put up with that cr*p from my dog. Why don't you show her who's boss?" Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh.

I've become really adept at intervening between well-meaning people and my dog while smiling and changing the subject so as not to offend anyone. You know what a great dog she is and that's all that matters.
haha, I was ranting to myself about that just the other day! Some man asked to pet Pippa and I apologized saying she is shy of people. He replied with the typical "she's been abused" speech. Even though I told him I've had her since she was a wee little pup. lol I told him she's never had a hand raised against her, but he was adamant. O-kay... He said something about he'll be right back, and I made my escape out to the parking lot. XD

I've learned the "body shield" thing too. :p It really does help her feel safe if I'm standing in between her and the monsters- oh, uhm, I mean- people. And, while you have me started, :wink: I really wish people would stop talking to her as they walk by. They'll reach down, as if the pet her or do baby talk. If I could wear a shirt saying "Don't talk, pet, or look at my dog" I would be highly tempted to do so. XD but... that makes me sound like a rude person, and I'm really not! its just... the best success I've ever had with her is with people who act like she's not even there. There's no problems then. all is peace. and she becomes confident. But as soon as one person makes eye contact/baby talk with her it all goes downhill. :(
I have no idea why people want to pet strange dogs without asking first. Especially obviously fearful ones. People leading little children are the worst. I hear "You wanna go see the puppy?..." (from the adults no less!) a lot. But they are the easiest to spot so I can normally avoid them pretty well. :p

Does anyone think making some kind of "I'm training" patch would help? I've thought about it, but then I think it might just attract more unwanted attention? I don't know...

Thanks for the encouragement all! It's nice to have such a great support group on here! ^^
 
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