So, Flynn is 7 months now and is exhibiting many of the classic signs of "teenagery." I've read alot on this forum and in Ian Dunbar's writings, so at least i know it's normal! But I would realllllly appreciate any input on how best to handle some issues.
The two biggies for us right now:
1) Fear/nervousness over the mundane: my husband or i walk down the steps from downstairs into the living room where Flynn is... he seems not to recognize us and barks. He seeks a backpack on the floor ... won't approach it, or will bark at it. Just generally afraid of random stuff. Does this pass naturally? Is there anything I can do to help it pass? We've just been remaining calm and saying "It's OK Flynn, it's just me/backpack/DH etc"
2) Sudden fear/anxiety around strangers: Flynn was very well socialized by his breeder and by us after we picked him up at 8 weeks. Lots of friends over, lots of walks (during which we see lots of people/strangers); two rounds of puppy class (he was the BEST at pass the puppy... LOVED everyone in the class.... both our dog walker and the trainer thought he'd be a fantastic therapy dog).
Suddenly, though, he is very nervous about anyone but our family, the babysitter and dog walker. We take him on a walk with us every morning when I walk my daughter to school. Recently, he tries to hide from and/or barks at just about anyone we see -- the crossing guards, other parents, runners, random passersby. He never used to bark at anything.. now he barks at almost everything/one. And the squirrels... oh how he wants to chase them!
Sometimes, as we walk, he'll act like he wants to jump toward a person passing by (in what seems like a friendly jumpy/greeting), but if they take any slight motion toward him (even if being friendly), he then hides behind me, and barks and gets all worked up.
We took him with us to a holiday gathering for Christmas Eve and he did OK, but pretty much would not leave my side and was hesitant about letting others pet him, etc. ((The one notable exception to this is KIDS. He LOVES children and never barks at them and is happy when they pet him. We have a 5 y.o. and he adores her and even at gatherings and in puppy class, seems to gravitate toward the kids. Maybe b/c they are small?)
In any event, this is the big one that I'm not sure how to handle and is obviously very important. Lately, I have been picking him up when we come across a stanger who is willing to take some time to try to get to "know" him (i.e., the crossing guards all love dogs and keep treats with them for pups). But he even squirms to try to get away when I try to hold him, even if the person is trying to give him a treat. I am gentle about it, but if he's squirming and freaking out, I step back a bit. But I don't want to give up. We're even headed back to puppy class for a 3rd round (the wonderful trainer isn't charging me... she is happy to help me try to socialize him through this period).
He hasn't really ever been super comfortable playing with or being around other dogs -- he tolerates it, even enjoys it if the other dog(s) is/are not too big or rough in their play (unfortunately, some of the dogs in puppy class are bigger and he is more hesitant with that). He's definitely not aggressive about the other dogs -- just not eager to engage in fellow doggy play -- previously would rather find a human to pet him. This part (his attitude toward other dogs) hasn't really changed with adoloscence).
Any advice would be appreciated.. Also -- how long does it last?!? If we are consistent, will it pass? I miss our social pup who was happy to greet anyone, esp if they were willing to give him a belly rub! The nervous nelly who has replaced our social butterfly needs to hit the road!
SOrry for the long post... .Thanks in advance!