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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-06-2020, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy problems

We’ve only had our puppy for about a week. Some things are going fine- she mostly goes potty outside. She’s playful and seems to be bonding with me and my husband. We are empty nesters and I am home during the day. My main concern is that she is extremely fearful. She howls if anyone other than the two of us tries to touch her or pick her up or will stand behind me and cower and shake. She is from a reputable breeder who is responsible. We visited multiple times, met the mother but not the sire. Never saw anything like this. Never had issues with us picking her up, playing with her, etc. Seemed to have normal interactions with her litter mates. The breeder is in our metro area, so no plane ride or hours long drive home. Our vet wanted us to wait until next week to start puppy kindergarten until she’s had Bordetella vaccine take effect so no idea how she will react in that situation. I spoke to a trainer by phone and she said it could be a “fear period” but she is willing to come by and evaluate. Breeder is baffled and says give her time to settle in. Anyone ever had a similar situation? I’m really nervous about it but don’t know if I need to be.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-07-2020, 10:03 AM
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We’ve only had our puppy for about a week. Some things are going fine- she mostly goes potty outside. She’s playful and seems to be bonding with me and my husband. We are empty nesters and I am home during the day. My main concern is that she is extremely fearful. She howls if anyone other than the two of us tries to touch her or pick her up or will stand behind me and cower and shake. She is from a reputable breeder who is responsible. We visited multiple times, met the mother but not the sire. Never saw anything like this. Never had issues with us picking her up, playing with her, etc. Seemed to have normal interactions with her litter mates. The breeder is in our metro area, so no plane ride or hours long drive home. Our vet wanted us to wait until next week to start puppy kindergarten until she’s had Bordetella vaccine take effect so no idea how she will react in that situation. I spoke to a trainer by phone and she said it could be a “fear period” but she is willing to come by and evaluate. Breeder is baffled and says give her time to settle in. Anyone ever had a similar situation? I’m really nervous about it but don’t know if I need to be.
I do not have experience with this situation. But one thing I do know...dogs pick up on our anxiety. I have been guilty of this on a few occasions. Hopefully others weigh in on the training aspects but my advice is for you to remain calm and have confidence your pup will get over this. I can tell from you email you are nervous about this and I bet your pup is picking this up. You have only had the dog one week and it may simply need time to adjust.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-07-2020, 03:13 PM
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I think all of the action you’ve taken is exactly right. My puppy took a couple of weeks to really settle in, so I think giving it a little more time is a good idea. In the meantime I think avoid reacting to fearful behavior. I don’t agree with the idea that giving any kind of attention to a fearful puppy will reinforce fearful behavior, though. If he hides behind you because there are big, scary, new people in the room, let him, just don’t pick him up and coddle him. Sometimes the fear is legitimate, and my experience with my own puppy is that he just wanted to know there was a place he COULD hide, and then he warmed up.

If I was in your situation, I would focus on helping him become comfortable in an ex pen (or whatever area you’re using to contain him). I’d arrange to have lots of friends and family stop by, even just for 10 or 15 minutes, for the next couple of weeks. Knowing he has a place he feels comfortable and safe, I’d start opening the expen door when people are around and letting him come out and explore on his own. By “on his own” I don’t mean unsupervised, since you don’t want to create a new potty training problem, I just mean that he is able to make the choice about whether or not he approaches people. I really don’t think it will take long before he wants to see what’s going on. If he isn’t approaching people or getting more comfortable by next week, then you’ll at least have some good information about his interactions to share with puppy kindergarten or a trainer. Again, that’s just what I would do knowing what I know now about my own Former-scaredy-cat puppy.

My puppy was on the shy side, and by 1 year old you would never know it in a million years. Even if she is on the fearful side after she settles in, you’re being proactive early in the game, and puppy behavior is quickly and easily shaped at this age.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-09-2020, 11:01 AM
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Welcome to the Havanese Forum which has helped lots of Exhausted and Worried Puppy Moms get through those difficult puppy stages.

I'm guessing your darling puppy is probably 8-9 weeks old and is transitioning to a new environment and parents. My little girl is 2-years-old and still acts fearful or shy with people she's not familiar with. She always interested but wants to sniff and get to know strangers before she allows them to touch and pick her up. Later they may not be able to keep her out of their lap.

Ditto ... on setting up an ex-pen to create a safe place where your puppy has toys, food, a bed/blanket, and a potty tray. It'll be a while before the puppy will be housebroken. Gate off and keep your little one confined to one room containing the ex-pen and a potty tray because puppies pee and poop ALL THE TIME. Most dogs will automatically use the potty tray when confined to an ex-pen.

I gave up taking mine outside every 45 mins, 30 mins or 15 mins, because as soon as you come back into the house they'll squat and pee until they're older and Toy dogs typically take a little longer to housebreak. Havanese are very smart and can be easily housebroken. Check out links on this website for Potty Training and Indoor Housebreaking.

Welcome ...
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-16-2020, 11:39 AM
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Welcome! How are things going?

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-16-2020, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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Things seem to be improving. She’s not a “run up and greet strangers “ puppy, but she seems to be tolerating strangers petting her especially when we’re holding her. I’m trying to do as much positive socializing as possible. She’s done one puppy class which I didn’t think she would tolerate, but she participated and seemed unphased by the two bigger puppies. There were a few times when she tried to hide behind us, but I am OK with that. Hopefully I have a shy dog and not a fearful one.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-17-2020, 09:04 AM
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Are you giving her treats as people are petting her? You could work your way from stranger near to stranger touching lightly to stranger resting hand on back to stranger moving hand on back to stranger touching with two hands to stranger holding to stranger picking up to stranger picking up and holding ... She'll tolerate anything better if she associates it with yummy, perhaps special (i.e., not used in other situations) treats.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-17-2020, 09:41 AM
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There is another point of view here too... Personally, I really don't CARE whether my dogs love being handled by strangers. Yes, they must, eventually, tolerate being handled by "professional" strangers, as in vets and groomers, but THOSE are PROFESSIONALS, who know how to interact with dogs, not "man on the street" strangers who don't know how to read dogs, and don't know how to interact appropriately with a shy or fearful pup most of the time.

I honestly don't push my puppies to be handled by strangers if they are not ready. Period. I bring them places so they are around people and let them observe from a distance where they show NO SIGNS of fear. If they show interest in approaching, and I trust the person to do things the way I ask them to, I take thing further. (this is especially true with children who can easily and quickly do "scary things" without meaning to)

There is plenty of time to teach the dog to tolerate handling. That is why it is part of the GCG test, and later a more formal part of the Novice "Stand for exam" and, finally, the still more difficult Utility level "Moving Stand for Exam" in formal Obedience. Incidentally, even if you have no interest in showing your puppy in conformation, the process of attending lessons for showing in conformation, (WHEN THEY ARE READY (don't force this either, but most conformation classes are drop-ins, so you can just take your puppy and watch from the side-lines and see if they are ready to participate!) and learning to stand and tolerate handling for the examination in conformation makes for a dog that is very blase about vet exams also!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-17-2020, 10:24 AM
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There is another point of view here too... Personally, I really don't CARE whether my dogs love being handled by strangers. Yes, they must, eventually, tolerate being handled by "professional" strangers, as in vets and groomers, but THOSE are PROFESSIONALS, who know how to interact with dogs, not "man on the street" strangers who don't know how to read dogs, and don't know how to interact appropriately with a shy or fearful pup most of the time.

I honestly don't push my puppies to be handled by strangers if they are not ready. Period. I bring them places so they are around people and let them observe from a distance where they show NO SIGNS of fear. If they show interest in approaching, and I trust the person to do things the way I ask them to, I take thing further. (this is especially true with children who can easily and quickly do "scary things" without meaning to)

There is plenty of time to teach the dog to tolerate handling. That is why it is part of the GCG test, and later a more formal part of the Novice "Stand for exam" and, finally, the still more difficult Utility level "Moving Stand for Exam" in formal Obedience. Incidentally, even if you have no interest in showing your puppy in conformation, the process of attending lessons for showing in conformation, (WHEN THEY ARE READY (don't force this either, but most conformation classes are drop-ins, so you can just take your puppy and watch from the side-lines and see if they are ready to participate!) and learning to stand and tolerate handling for the examination in conformation makes for a dog that is very blase about vet exams also!
I am glad I am not alone...I could care less if my dogs want to be handled by strangers. In fact, I prefer not to let strangers near them. They are great at the vet and put up with all sorts of stuff from them and tolerate it well (like my yorkie having several ticks extracted from his ear canals). They are also great with family and friends. That is all I care about.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-17-2020, 11:20 AM
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I am glad I am not alone...I could care less if my dogs want to be handled by strangers. In fact, I prefer not to let strangers near them. They are great at the vet and put up with all sorts of stuff from them and tolerate it well (like my yorkie having several ticks extracted from his ear canals). They are also great with family and friends. That is all I care about.
I have three that are very different. Kodi THROWS himself into ANYONE's arms. (he would happily leave with the UPS guy ) Panda is ALMOST as out-going. She is immediately friendly with 9 out of 10 people. With the other 10% I expect she has a good reason and I respect it. (I DO think females are a bit more "discerning" that way in general) Pixel takes longer to warm up. Once you are on the "friends list", you are on it for life. But she needs a few minutes to decide. Again, I never push her.

I've never seen her reject anyone that WE consider a friend, and "strangers"? I don't really care! She has surprised us now and then while we have been camping. Every once in a while she QUICKLY makes friends with a "stranger", and they immediately take a shine to each other. (it is ALWAYS a mutual thing) When it happens, it is really cute! But it is ALWAYS her decision. We never push for it, and we never allow someone else to push for it. Because she is so little and cute, some people want to try really hard with her. We always tell them that the fastest way to get her to like them is to TOTALLY ignore her. If she is going to take to them, before long, she's coming to THEM to check them out.
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