Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Mililani, Hawaii
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Fear at 6 months of age
Cassie turned 6 months on Sept 1 and appears to be in the throes of a "fear stage". I took great care to socialize her with dogs and people from the time that we brought her home at 9 weeks. She was always happy and playful with both dogs and all people she met.
However, she now exhibits fear of "strangers" and/or "strange appearances". For example, my 15 year old son walked into the room wearing a leather jacket with athletic shorts and she went ballistic (barking) because she didn't recognize him (it was the jacket). He had to leave the room to remove it & she was happy as a lark when he returned a few seconds later.
She'll bark the same "type" of bark when she's not sure of who is entering the house (even if it's a family member). Once she recognizes who it is she's fine.
People on bicycles? Forget it! Family member wearing a hat? Bark, bark in fear. My husband was wheeling his pressure washer in the driveway & she barked at the pressure washer. I know it is a stage & it is at times comical but I just want to make sure we're handling it correctly. My husband wanted my son to approach her (with the jacket) and pet her. I played it safe and asked him to go away & remove it.
Also, for strangers that we meet on walks...I've read some authors who say "have strangers give your dog treats" but I'm not comfortable approaching perfect strangers with a barking puppy (who is obviously barking at them!). I feel bad having her "bark, bark" at other people while they're walking by, minding their business.
We still attend training class once a week & she loves going there-- comfortable with all the humans and dogs there. We've been going for about 14 weeks now & although the people and dogs have transitioned in and out the location & trainer has remained the same.
I have a 7 year old adult chihuahua/terrier mix and I don't remember him going through anything like this! Has anyone else experienced this type of behavior and if so, what is the best way to handle it?
Michele (and Cassie)