Fearful puppies

Sometimes we see a puppy in class who is really scared of other dogs and displays behaviours such as growling and barking when other puppies approach even on their owner’s lap. Not because they are excited and want to play but because they are scared.

These are behaviours which I consider ‘out of the norm’. It is not something you would expect a puppy to do. This could be caused by a genetic predisposition or bad experiences very early in life. In this case I think it is a bit of both.

We had such a puppy in one of our last puppy classes, she came from a pet shop and the owner was really worried. I was, too!

To live with an unsocial dog is stressful, worrying and exhausting. Even if you do not intend to go to the dog park, the puppy will meet other dogs on social occasions.

We went very softly and let her explore the room on her own, then gradually matching her with calm puppies. I recommended an ADAPTL collar early on but the vet advised against it. She did not improve as much as I hoped and by the end of the four weeks, a lot more needed to be done.

I could finally convince the owner to get the ADAPTIL collar and I offered a repeat of the puppy pre school class at no extra cost.

The owner was more than happy to do this and brought her back to class.

As she had been in the room before, has had a lot of positive association, she was much more confident.

She has now started to interact appropriately with the other puppies, initiates play and social interaction. Not once has she growled or barked in fear.

This is not the end. The owner needs to keep socializing carefully and appropriately until she is at least 12 months old and beyond that.