The other day my Gutie (14 weeks old) decided to just start barking at strangers and when people approached he gets fearful and hides behind me. He wasn't like this before! He used to bound up to strangers for pets and kisses! He is very well socialized around people and other dogs. To my knowledge he hasn't had any bad experiences with people at all that would lead to this. Has anyone else experienced this? I don't want it to lead to more fearfulness or aggression later! :(

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Comment by susan on May 28, 2015 at 9:44am
You might try taking you pup to a park or shopping area where he is sure to see people. Be loaded with some really tasty treats and stand back away from the people but so they are definitely in sight. have him sit and praise and give treats. Move closer to the people, rinse, repeat. Do this until you are standing in the midst of people. If they want to pet him, feed him treats the whole time they are doing so. Just keep a cookie on his nose, especially if they are young children. Pretty soon he will think strangers are the best thing ever.

He is going thru a fear stage and you will have to work thru it. He needs a lot of exposure made to be very positive and rewarding. Good luck.
Comment by Vicky Hay on May 27, 2015 at 6:11pm

Ruby was a perfect example of what Bev says: going through various stages. At first she was scared of the dark (outside, that is). That lasted about a week. Then it was barking dogs, holey moley! That she tries to get dogs inside fences to bark. Each of these stages lasted a fairly short period.

I think maybe the trick is to act confident and even bored, communicating the "this is not a big deal" message with your body language and voice. Distracting with treats or with a simple obedience command such as "watch me" or "sit" may help, too.

Comment by Jane Christensen on May 24, 2015 at 9:31pm

Bev is correct and also the more things you can have her see and experience now the better. Treats and making it fun are good. If he knows how to sit you can also ask him to that under some circumstances. Practicing with someone who has a well behaved dog or kids can also help him learn to trust.

Comment by Bev Levy on May 24, 2015 at 5:20pm

Puppies  go through various  stages of fearfulness as they mature. It will help to teach a watch me command and have her look at you when strangers approach.  It's a useful training tool for many things. Just practice several times a day holding a treat by your eye and say "watch me or look" and as soon as you make eye contact give a treat with your other hand. Little short training sessions will prepare her for when you are out and a stranger approaches. Not everyone needs to pet her during this stage but being around people will help her realize it's no big deal and it should pass.

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