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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-07-2013, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Extremely Shy pup

I am so discouraged. We got our puppy when he was almost 13 weeks old. When I arrived at the breeder's home to pick him up, he ran and hid while all of the other puppies ran up to me. The breeder said that all of the other puppies barking scared him. That shy behavior continued when I got him home. He has a very submissive personality. He often rolls on his back and pees when you reach to pet him. He is great playing with my three little boys and doesn't act at all frightened. He also loves to cuddle me. However, he is so scared of strangers and growls and nips at anyone who reaches to pet him. He has had lots of visitors. I did not get to start puppy training class right off, because he came home with giardia and got really sick from the meds. So, we started the new session tonight. He is now 20 weeks old. He was so shy. He snapped at the other puppies when they went to play with him, but did seem to warm up to them in the end. He growled at the trainer and anyone else that walked up to him. I am so sad. I am very attached, as our my children. However, we are constantly around other children. I have to stand guard and not let anyone near him at places like the ball field, etc. I am mostly discouraged because the trainer said that the personality is set by around 15 weeks. Is this true? I don't want him to always be a shy and unfriendly dog!!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Duke View Post
I am so discouraged. We got our puppy when he was almost 13 weeks old. When I arrived at the breeder's home to pick him up, he ran and hid while all of the other puppies ran up to me. The breeder said that all of the other puppies barking scared him. That shy behavior continued when I got him home. He has a very submissive personality. He often rolls on his back and pees when you reach to pet him. He is great playing with my three little boys and doesn't act at all frightened. He also loves to cuddle me. However, he is so scared of strangers and growls and nips at anyone who reaches to pet him. He has had lots of visitors. I did not get to start puppy training class right off, because he came home with giardia and got really sick from the meds. So, we started the new session tonight. He is now 20 weeks old. He was so shy. He snapped at the other puppies when they went to play with him, but did seem to warm up to them in the end. He growled at the trainer and anyone else that walked up to him. I am so sad. I am very attached, as our my children. However, we are constantly around other children. I have to stand guard and not let anyone near him at places like the ball field, etc. I am mostly discouraged because the trainer said that the personality is set by around 15 weeks. Is this true? I don't want him to always be a shy and unfriendly dog!!
You can (and certainly should) work diligently to improve his socialization, not by overwhelming him and letting people try to pat him when he doesn't feel comfortable with it, but by getting people (in your case, especially children) sit on the floor quietly, let HIM approach them, and have them speak gently and give him treats.

But the truth is, if you have a genetically shy dog, and it sounds like you do, he will probably always be a shy dog, who needs, at least, time to warm up to people and other dogs.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 08:39 AM
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I'm not sure if Timmy is shy, or fearful, I describe him as "reserved." My breeder told me from the get go that he was timid and she would not have placed him with a family that had little kids and a lot of chaos. I really had to work on socializing him, early, and was thankful that at least I knew about this scenario before hand. Treats, treats, treats ALL THE TIME, early on was key with my little guy. I gave them to people who wanted to pet him, I gave them to him when he was reluctant or hesitant about a situation and almost had to be one step ahead of things to reward him when he made improvements. I started him with puppy classes at about 13 weeks old and had great trainers available to help me with all aspects of his behavior. Trust me he was terrified when we started and now he LOVES going to class. I don't think that at 15 weeks old your dog is what you have for the rest of it's life at 15 weeks you have a blueprint of what you have to work with. Consistency was key for me and don't overwhelm your little guy, baby steps. The fact that Duke (I'm assuming that's his name) is playing with your kids and cuddling with you is a great start. He's been through a lot in his young life and yes, his growling is him telling you he's not happy about the situation, he's not trying to be mean or bad. I tend to look at the silver lining in all things. Timmy never jumps up on anyone that comes to greet him, he loves other dogs and is very respectful and gentle, he's a kind of wallflower that makes his presence known but isn't necessarily in your face or others all the time. He's made huge steps and I couldn't be happier with how things turned out, he loves my neighbor's toddler and neighborhood kids, walks past buzzing tree service trucks, enjoys all dogs big and small, we can walk in town and pass people without me worrying about him pulling me and I think he is the quintessential gentleman.

Work with your trainers, if you're not happy with them find someone else. I know if Dave is reading this he might be able to recommend trainers if you decide you need that. I admit you will have to work hard to overcome some of these behaviors but if you're consistent and working with people who know what they are doing you can change things.

Keep you chin up, oh and we need some pictures!!!!

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 09:38 AM
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Your pup may be inherently reserved, but you do report he plays fine with your own children, so the pup does have a playful outgoing side.

Listen to Karen. Since your pup is nipping and growling at ppl trying to pet him, don't let them. Let the visitors just be near him. He'll tell you the proximity, b/c clearly he will growl if they get to close.

One socialization exercise I like, is go to starbucks or peet's, and just sit your pup on your lap. don't let anyone pet him or come too close, make sure he feels safe in your lap, and let him take in the world around him. when ppl or children approach you to pet him, just say, 'he's in training'.

I don't agree that dog behavior is set by a certain age. You can always socialize a pup more than they have been.

Doesn't sound like your breeder gave you any help, shy and giardia. that bites! my big girl, anatolian shepherd Kara, that's really the only health issue she's had, she's a giardia magnet!

Don't give up on your pup. be patient and calm, even if he nips or acts like a butthead. dogs pick up on your feelings and your state of mind.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jabojenny View Post
I'm not sure if Timmy is shy, or fearful, I describe him as "reserved." My breeder told me from the get go that he was timid and she would not have placed him with a family that had little kids and a lot of chaos. I really had to work on socializing him, early, and was thankful that at least I knew about this scenario before hand. Treats, treats, treats ALL THE TIME, early on was key with my little guy. I gave them to people who wanted to pet him, I gave them to him when he was reluctant or hesitant about a situation and almost had to be one step ahead of things to reward him when he made improvements. I started him with puppy classes at about 13 weeks old and had great trainers available to help me with all aspects of his behavior. Trust me he was terrified when we started and now he LOVES going to class. I don't think that at 15 weeks old your dog is what you have for the rest of it's life at 15 weeks you have a blueprint of what you have to work with. Consistency was key for me and don't overwhelm your little guy, baby steps. The fact that Duke (I'm assuming that's his name) is playing with your kids and cuddling with you is a great start. He's been through a lot in his young life and yes, his growling is him telling you he's not happy about the situation, he's not trying to be mean or bad. I tend to look at the silver lining in all things. Timmy never jumps up on anyone that comes to greet him, he loves other dogs and is very respectful and gentle, he's a kind of wallflower that makes his presence known but isn't necessarily in your face or others all the time. He's made huge steps and I couldn't be happier with how things turned out, he loves my neighbor's toddler and neighborhood kids, walks past buzzing tree service trucks, enjoys all dogs big and small, we can walk in town and pass people without me worrying about him pulling me and I think he is the quintessential gentleman.

Work with your trainers, if you're not happy with them find someone else. I know if Dave is reading this he might be able to recommend trainers if you decide you need that. I admit you will have to work hard to overcome some of these behaviors but if you're consistent and working with people who know what they are doing you can change things.

Keep you chin up, oh and we need some pictures!!!!
Kodi was not a timid pup, but he wasn't an in-your-face extrovert either. I worked very hard on the socialization because I wanted him to be mannerly and accepting of people of all types. He is about like Timmy sounds now. He is polite, and warms up pretty quickly. But he NEVER jumps on strangers, and is actually likely to try to move behind me if they approach to quickly or forcefully. I don't mind that... I'd prefer it to having to keep him from jumping on people all the time, especially since, if they are quiet and gentle, he will go right over and greet them happily. OTOH, I don't think it's fair to push a dog to greet people when he's feeling uncomfortable. So if Kodi is not ready for a "meet and greet" I don't ever force it. The same is true with other dogs. he's very friendly with other friendly, gentle-playing dogs, and is able to read other dogs well. If he's nervous about a dog, I respect that. He's usually right.

i didn't mean to give the impression that I thought Duke was a hopeless case. I agree that there is still lots of room for improvement. But with a puppy that is as shy as this one seems, it's a case where his owners will have to be willing to do the (probably life-long) work needed to get and keep him socially comfortable. And they will always have to keep in mind that, temperamentally, he's on the sensitive side and will need to be given the time and space he needs to adjust to new people and situations.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 12:35 PM
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People are becoming more aware of the yellow ribbon on the leash means "I am shy... training.. scared... " Maybe if you go out in public, have a treat dish with a big sign. "I am really shy. Please quietly give me a treat and LISTEN to my person."

TTFN,
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 01:06 PM
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Don't give up on your puppy. I got Hobbes in November at somewhere in the 8-12 month range (depending on which person's opinion you trust). He is a puppy mill rescue so he had no socialization at all. He is doing much better! I am so pleased with his progress. The key is consistency but don't force it. Hobbes might never be a dog that wants to be petted by everyone. But he's not shaking in fear anymore. In fact, he's to the point where he loves/plays with some people he routinely see, is content to be pet by certain people he feels are non-threating and he see with some (but not super) regularity, and although he doesn't want to be petted, he is very interested in going up and giving a smell to a stranger who shows interest in him.

Take your dog to lots and lots of places. To SEE lots and lots of people. But don't force any interaction at all. Don't let people pet him, unless he is showing interest in a meet and greet. Go to Petsmart a few times a week and just walk around. The weather is nice. Take him on walks at a time of day where people are out and about. Just show him the world is safe but don't expect him to do anything. One day he'll surprise you and he will want to. And when he shows the slightest interest. That first sniff of someone he doesn't know, treat and praise!

Edited to add: I agree with Karen, it's going to be a life-long thing. A chronically shy dog is going to improve with a lot of work, but there's always going to have to be situational management.

Last edited by Zarika; 05-08-2013 at 01:10 PM.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 01:15 PM
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I think you've gotten some great advice in the above posts.

I just wanted to add that I think the breeder didn't do a terrific job of matching up the right pup to the right owner. Maybe that's not fair, but it was my initial thought. I'm in no way implying your situation can't or won't work though!

Tracy and Brody


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2013, 03:24 PM
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I think you've gotten some great advice in the above posts.

I just wanted to add that I think the breeder didn't do a terrific job of matching up the right pup to the right owner. Maybe that's not fair, but it was my initial thought. I'm in no way implying your situation can't or won't work though!
I agree. Placing a shy, timid puppy into a household of young children probably wasn't the world's best match.


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