Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Tricks, obedience, behavior, and more.
User avatar
DarkMoon
Super Bully
Posts: 764
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2008 7:30 pm
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby DarkMoon » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:07 am

Here is some background information. Peanut was found in a park heading toward a very busy road when she was picked up by a friend of mine. The first time I saw her she was scared to death of me, growled, snarled, and tried to hide in the woman that was keeping her at that time's lap to stay away from me. After some jerky she was ok with me, but still didn't trust me. Once I got her home, she actually was fine with me, but actually went after my mom when she wasn't thinking and cornered her in her crate.

Peanut is hand shy with new people, and doesn't like objects above her head. She has a lot of scars on her head which I'm guessing is from something either hitting her or falling on her. With me now, she's wonderful. She outgoing, not fearful of anything around the house, strangers can some in the yard no issues, but coming into the house she is scared of them.

I am a first time puppy owner but not dog owner. I've had Nubs for 3 years and dogs before that but the youngest dog I've dealt with was 7 to 8 months of age.
/end of BG

Today I took her into my work which is at a bank so my co-workers could see her. She was skiddish as heck in there. Everyone approached her calmly and let Peanut come them on her own terms. Overall it was a very positive experience. She actually was playing with one of my co-workers but you could tell she was scared of everything and everyone but wanted to play all the same. She was even able to just lay down next to me as I got money back from a teller.

My question is, it is normal for a Pit Bull Puppy to be so skiddish? She comes around quickly, but even after she lets people pet her or play with her, she's still cautious of them and never lets her guard down around them. Is this normal? I'm working on confidence builders already (she's come a LONG way already), and just general socialization, but as I said, this is the youngest dog I've ever worked with so I'm not sure if this behavior is normal or not.

Thanks in advance for any help.

User avatar
starrlamia
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 7375
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby starrlamia » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:36 am

how old is she? Could she be in a fear stage?
It sounds like she lacked socialization during the critical stage of her early puppy hood. You will probably want to work with her around strangers, giving treats etc and work slowly. Im not an expert in this area but brie has been showing some of the same behaviours lately and am working on it with her.

User avatar
MikeInTacoma
Moderator
Posts: 3421
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:27 am
Location: Tacoma, WA, USA
Contact:

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby MikeInTacoma » Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:14 pm

DarkMoon wrote:[...] My question is, it is normal for a Pit Bull Puppy to be so skiddish? She comes around quickly, but even after she lets people pet her or play with her, she's still cautious of them and never lets her guard down around them. Is this normal? I'm working on confidence builders already (she's come a LONG way already), and just general socialization, but as I said, this is the youngest dog I've ever worked with so I'm not sure if this behavior is normal or not.

Thanks in advance for any help.

I'm no expert. I think "normal" covers a wide range. It sounds like she's a little more fearful than average, and maybe would benefit from a good desensitization / counterconditioning programme. How old is she, and how long have you had her?

User avatar
DarkMoon
Super Bully
Posts: 764
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2008 7:30 pm
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby DarkMoon » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:06 pm

She is between 12-14 weeks of age according to the vet, and I've had her for 3 weeks as of today. She's come a LONG way since she came here with me. She's a whole new puppy already. She's fine meeting people outside a house or buillding, but not inside. If she meets them outside, they can come inside no issues, but if she meets them inside, she is terrified.

I don't think this is a fear stage. I know about fear stages, I went through Nubs's last one with him. I don't coddle her at all when she is fearful, but I encourage her every time she takes a step toward what scares her. It's just so odd. She's behind in her shots which scares me because I can't get her out and about to help her over come these fears and it's going to be another 2 months before I can have her cleared to go out.

User avatar
starrlamia
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 7375
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby starrlamia » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:19 pm

DarkMoon wrote:She is between 12-14 weeks of age according to the vet, and I've had her for 3 weeks as of today. She's come a LONG way since she came here with me. She's a whole new puppy already. She's fine meeting people outside a house or buillding, but not inside. If she meets them outside, they can come inside no issues, but if she meets them inside, she is terrified.

I don't think this is a fear stage. I know about fear stages, I went through Nubs's last one with him. I don't coddle her at all when she is fearful, but I encourage her every time she takes a step toward what scares her. It's just so odd. She's behind in her shots which scares me because I can't get her out and about to help her over come these fears and it's going to be another 2 months before I can have her cleared to go out.

are there puppy classes near you that she could go to?
I see people putting up ads on kijiji sometimes about play groups and finding dogs to socialize theirs with

User avatar
PBF lurker
Newborn Bully
Posts: 150
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 11:39 pm

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby PBF lurker » Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:49 am

DarkMoon wrote:My question is, it is normal for a Pit Bull Puppy to be so skiddish? She comes around quickly, but even after she lets people pet her or play with her, she's still cautious of them and never lets her guard down around them.

As Mike said, there's a wide range to normal, but I think her behavior is on the extreme end. I'm not expert on puppies, as I've only had one that young myself. I did however pick one that I knew was fearful from the getgo, but did nowhere near enough positive socialization / desensitization as I was not very knowledgeable at the time. Suffice it to say I botched it up and did not help the dog offset the cards they were dealt.
DarkMoon wrote:She is between 12-14 weeks of age [...] I don't think this is a fear stage.

Going with my assumtion that your pup is abnormally fearful**, I would expect her issues will be exacerbated during her fear period(s). She's around the age of the first one, I believe.
starrlamia wrote:It sounds like she lacked socialization during the critical stage of her early puppy hood. You will probably want to work with her around strangers, giving treats etc and work slowly.

NOW IS THE TIME to work your BUTT off to do the very best imprinting you can do. The things you do RIGHT NOW will have a lifelong effect. If you can afford it, get with an expert (behaviorist, pay a knowledgeable responsible breeder, whoever) to help you asap as your window is closing. An unqualified/unknowlegable 'trainer' may not only be unhelpful with your pup's issues, but negatively impact the rest of your pup's life.
DarkMoon wrote:She's behind in her shots which scares me because I can't get her out and about to help her over come these fears and it's going to be another 2 months before I can have her cleared to go out.

Consider the risks: on the one hand, your dog likely will have fear issues all her life if you don't do something about it now. On the other hand, there's a chance she may catch something. Having been in your situation and wishing I'd done better for my pup: If this were my fearful pup? I'd take her out anyway. Do my very best to provide abundant great experiences in hopes of offsetting her fearful temperament or prior experiences. Minimize your risk by working in low-risk areas, only allowing her on floors where known healthy dogs go.

Good luck, and make haste!


Readworthy threads:
Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test **
Critical Developmental Stages of Puppies
Tips for socializing/training puppies

Books for further reading:
Ian Dunbar: BEFORE you get your puppy (downloadable PDF copy)
Ian Dunbar: AFTER you get your puppy (downloadable PDF copy)
Jean Donaldson: Mine! A practical guide to resource guarding in dogs Obviously your pup is not resource guarding but having read this book, I highly recommend it for the wonderful section on desensitization & counterconditioning which would be invaluable to your upcoming plight.
Similarly, Fight!: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-dog Aggression might be more appropriate for you. It's geared towards dog-dog aggression but reading amazon reviews it seems fear-aggression is covered, as well as D&C. I have not personally read this book so I cannot confirm.
Product Description wrote:This down-to-earth manual will teach you how to use behavior modification to retrain a dog that bullies other dogs, or becomes fearful when approached by other dogs. From the award winning author of The Culture Clash and Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs.
Includes descriptions of: Common types of aggression, Assessing prognosis, Remedial socialization, On-leash manners training, Proximity sensitivity, Play style and skills, Resource guarding, Prevention

User avatar
merriterrier
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 6072
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 11:57 am
Location: somewhere in the hills...
Contact:

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby merriterrier » Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:28 am

PBF lurker wrote:
DarkMoon wrote:
DarkMoon wrote:She's behind in her shots which scares me because I can't get her out and about to help her over come these fears and it's going to be another 2 months before I can have her cleared to go out.

Consider the risks: on the one hand, your dog likely will have fear issues all her life if you don't do something about it now. On the other hand, there's a chance she may catch something. Having been in your situation and wishing I'd done better for my pup: If this were my fearful pup? I'd take her out anyway. Do my very best to provide abundant great experiences in hopes of offsetting her fearful temperament or prior experiences. Minimize your risk by working in low-risk areas, only allowing her on floors where known healthy dogs go.

Good luck, and make haste!



:goodpost:

I would risk the possibility of illness to improve this pups emotional and behavioral status.

User avatar
merriterrier
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 6072
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 11:57 am
Location: somewhere in the hills...
Contact:

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby merriterrier » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:39 am

In addition to the great resources listed above, I want to recommend Help for Your Fearful Dog By Nichole Wilde. This book has been a wonderful tool for me working in the shelter/rescue environment, as well as helping me address minor behavioral problems in my own dogs and fosters.
http://www.amazon.com/Help-Your-Fearful ... 0966772679

And here is a site I have used in the past which has some helpful (free) info: http://fearfuldogs.com/

Good Luck!

User avatar
Mooresmajestic
Bully Lover 4 Life
Posts: 1456
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 11:42 am
Location: The "D"... ish

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby Mooresmajestic » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:53 pm

I would suggest some show friends on your side of the state to help the pup socialize. That way you already know the owners and their dogs. The health risks would be minimal.

You are always more than welcome to join Jen, Amanda and I for training if you feel up to the hike. Jen is really good working with fearful dogs, and Amanda and I can definatly help too. You would have a whole group of confident dogs to show her the way (and of course you would be able to hang out with our awesomeness too lol ;) )

User avatar
DarkMoon
Super Bully
Posts: 764
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2008 7:30 pm
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: Fearful Puppy Behavior (1st time puppy owner)

Postby DarkMoon » Sat Jul 16, 2011 4:26 pm

Thanks for the advice so far. I've been getting her out more, she's even asking for walks now (Keep it to the streets only a block at a time) and has already improved there.

Melissa I wish I could take off for a weekend and come out with you girls. Working 7 days a week is hard as heck to do and really doesn't work well with the social life.


Return to “Training and Behavior”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests