Lottie is fearful of people.
Lottie is already growling when someone looks at her or approaches her, and it’s getting worse.
The beautiful Golden Retrieve puppy is also scared of noises and of anything new.
It’s hard to trace just why this is. Her family had done all the research possible over a long period of time before choosing her and she came from a good environment – from a family home, living with her mother.
She was the last of the litter and they found her lacking confidence from the start.
A puppy of eight weeks old should be confident and fearless.
Perhaps something occurred to make the already sensitive puppy so fearful of people, something during the puppy’s crucial fear period. Something that nobody was aware of.
Lottie’s fearfulness may simply be genetic.
She should have had early socialising with different people from a few weeks old. She should have had habituating to daily life, people, other dogs and so on. Unfortunately they have been caught in that common trap of believing they can’t take her out to mix until her vaccinations are finished.
Now, at three months old, she’s ‘allowed’ to go out and they are playing catch up. This is what Linda Michaels says about this situation: Puppy socialisation and vaccinations belong together.
Conflict. A dilemma.
Finding the best way to go about helping Lottie creates a dilemma – a conflict between the two things she most needs. One is time to build confidence around people and the other plenty of positive encounters as early as possible.
The need for patience and time to grow her confidence must come first, because without this, encounters are unlikely to be positive for her. They need to go very slowly so that she can get used to the scary world one thing at a time
Combining the two needs will best be done by as many encounters with people as possible but from a ‘safe’ distance, and associated with good things.
I suggest for a start that they put her in a comfortable harness and attach a long lead. They can simply take her to the end of their drive and let her watch the world go by, well back from any cars or people.
With every sound they will drop food. Every car that passes they can drop food. Every distant person she sees – drop food. Any dog she sees – drop food. If she’s scared, the lead is long and loose and she can run back to the house.
If this is still too much for her, they may need to start further back by the front door. It’s vital she’s allowed to choose her own pace.
People must not be allowed to crowd her or touch her. Believing they were doing the right things, they had been carrying her to allow people to touch her. She shook. From now on, getting near to a person must be her own choice and it doesn’t look like this will happen for a while.
They will start to invite people to their house – under strict instructions.
A typical happy Golden Retriever puppy!
Lottie’s not scared all the time however! In her home with her family she can be a typical happy little puppy tornado! She may suddenly race around with things going flying. She chews and she nips when excited! This is a lot easier and more normal to deal with.