Warning, long post incoming.
I adopted a(n adorable) puppy from a shelter here in Italy. I was not able to meet her beforehand; the way it works here is that Southern Italian shelters adopt out pups to central and northern Italy and they send them up 20 or so at a time in a big caravan, hand them off to you, and you go on your way. There is no placement or meeting the dogs beforehand. I did a ton of research on getting a dog and had been actually planning on purchasing a Golden Retriever for years now from a very responsible breeder but at the last minute changed my decision because I thought rescuing a puppy in need was much better. I kind of got guilted into it because of the high cost of a GR. Now I am second-guessing my choice and think that I should have absolutely gone with the bred dog.
My puppy was one of a litter of 11 and raised only with her siblings in a horrible shelter/kennel. She was not raised with her mom. She was not socialized with humans of any kind outside of the volunteer who fed her. I chose her based on her personality in a video. Admittedly, I probably shouldn't have adopted a dog without meeting her but having been around dogs growing up, naively I thought all puppies could be "molded" to a certain extent.
When she and I first met (my SO took her home two days before me as I was traveling), she growled at me. Like full on adult dog growl with hackles up. Then about thirty mins later we became best buds. She is extremely affectionate and loving and is a lick monster now though
She follows me around the house, plays well, is taking to the crate well, is very smart (she knows leave it, sit, down, up, stand, look at me, her name), etc. but I am not sure I am the best dog mom for her. Here's why:
I'm not sure I'm equipped to handle her. How much shyness is "normal" at 12 weeks old? It's been difficult socializing her because puppy classes are closed here due to Covid and she's not fully vaccinated (she will be by January 8th) so we can't take her to the dog park. We've been walking around with her on our busy pedestrian-only street multiple times daily. She is very shy with strangers. I would say that out of every 100 people who try to interact with her (hypothetically) she only warms up to 10 of them, and by warming up I mean not running away.
She doesn't allow herself to really be pet, but what she will do is run after people (tail wagging) who are walking past her or whose backs are turned to her. She often times will cower away if people approach her, even gently, and go between my legs for shelter. I've been giving people treats to give to her but in those cases she will just take it and then walk back between my legs. I take her into stores and have shopkeepers gently pet her but she legitimately trembles in fear.
She also is iffy with other dogs at best. There is a small terrier in my building who wants to make friends, but she yelps like she is being hurt if she even sees him. She has also growled at four dogs so far: one during play, one who just simply approached her inquisitively, one who walked by her, and one who approached her while she was in my significant other's arms. She snapped at this first dog also during play but I will chalk that up to puppy play and exploring boundaries. She has yelped at other dogs who have her on the street as well. It is not an "I want to play" yelp. It is an "I am terrified" yelp. Her reaction with dogs is either: run away and cower with us, play (only if they are very small, and only if the other dog goads her into it; she never plays first), growl, or yelp in terror.
I really think I'm having the puppy blues. Having helped raise my brother's dog (who is a mush that literally wants to be friends with everyone and everything), I guess I just expected all puppies to be friendly little balls of love and curiosity! It has been difficult adjusting to the fact that my dog may never be people- or dog-friendly, which is something I place huge importance on.
Am I doing the right thing by socializing her this way? What else can I be doing? Tomorrow I am going to the doggy daycare and we are going to have an "interview" to see if she can play in a supervised indoor area with other dogs, but I don't know if she can handle it because they're not puppies. I don't want to set her back but I am also afraid we're reaching the end of the window of opportunity for the socialization period. I really want to rehome her to a family that understands shy and nervous dogs, but my significant other has bonded with her and will likely leave me if I do. As a dog lover, I feel so sad and stuck.