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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! I have a jack Russell mix puppy that is 3.5 months old. She has over the past couple days become rather reactive while on walks to people and dogs. I'm afraid that I hadn't socialized her enough and afraid I'm going to make this issue worse. Here's the basic info about the situation.

1. I got her at 9 weeks with no knowledge on how she was socialized. For the first week I had been scared into not taking her as many places in fear that she would get sick since she had no shots. I have had her meet a decent amount of people with no bad experiences that stick out in my mind. She has met a large number of nice dogs and she had always been good about saying hello.

2. A few days ago, on our daily park visits, she started growling, barking, and raising her hackles at various strangers and dogs. She is fearful in approaching them as she does a lot of running up and retreating. Luckily these people are calm and let her take her time, otherwise I try to calmly remove her from the situation.

3. She's been a bit weird the past couple of days in general as she practically forgot her potty training and had been rather rowdy. We have for the most part gotten the potty training back on schedule. I make sure she gets a good amount of exercise with naps in between to help her stay balanced.

4. Her reactivity is sporadic. Sometimes, she will happily approach a person and say hello with almost no retreating and happily let me talk to them while she chills in the grass (this is both with and without other dogs present). Other times she barks and growls at similar looking people/dogs where she has difficulty approaching.

5. At a distance, she is okay. I started desensitizing her by feeding her treats while she is calm and the person/dog is in the distance. She will stand erect looking at them but isn't reacting otherwise and it is fairly easy to divert her attention onto me.

My question is whether this is one of her fear periods showing up which is causing her to react so strongly to these stimuli so if I keep using positive reinforcement it should pass and she should be okay with people. Or this is an indication that her socialization when awry and I need to take more drastic steps to attend to this. I really don't want her to be so fearful of people, and I want to approach this with positive training techniques. My hope is that if I am proactive right now, I should be able to correct this. What are your suggestions on the situation?
 

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I suspect you are seeing the expression of a fear period and if you don't make too big a thing of it and avoid things that do (or could) set her off as much as possible for a week or so, you'll come back to it and she'll be fine.

(But seriously, don't make too big of an issue of it, even with Counterconditioning and desensitization. Feed her, yeah, but also just get out of dodge and do it cheerfully and happily and move on with life).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advice! I've been trying to cheerfully interrupt these situations if possible. Lots of praise and moving to less exciting places so at least I did something right. I suppose we will be going on quiet walks then for a week and hopefully she should move past it. Would it be detrimental to socialization if she's meeting less people and dogs because of this?
 

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Thanks for the advice! I've been trying to cheerfully interrupt these situations if possible. Lots of praise and moving to less exciting places so at least I did something right. I suppose we will be going on quiet walks then for a week and hopefully she should move past it. Would it be detrimental to socialization if she's meeting less people and dogs because of this?
Nah.Socialization is important but she needs to be exposed to things, not necessarily interact with them - especially if she's uncomfortable. Take her places, do stuff, just let her have her space and quiet for a bit and follow her lead. Expect some ups and downs, but You'll be okay!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you so much! I can definitely see the fear period now, she had the same reactivity to a tote bag just sitting on the floor in my house. It was rather concerning when it was just people because it looked like I failed at socializing her but seeing that she's just having a fearful week, i feel confident and i can help her through it. I'll work at her pace and I think we'll make it through!
 
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