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Puppy sensitive/nervous of new things at 3 months

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by LAS, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. LAS

    LAS Registered Users

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    I am wondering how 'normal' it is for a pup to be very reluctant and nervous in new situations at this age and I'm curious if her behaviour is within 'normal'. She is 13 weeks now and we've had her since she was 8 weeks. We have been socializing her with new outings and people. But she takes a fair amount of time to warm up. Is this something she will outgrow somewhat as she matures?
     
  2. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi @LAS

    At around the age of 12 weeks the additional emotion of fear/anxiety outweighs the additional inquisitiveness to explore the world. This is the norm for all dogs. Rather than galloping towards the new the dog is now wary, watching and taking everything into account.

    You have about another 3 weeks to continue to socialise your dog (meaning introducing your dog to new situations/objects but always let the dog back off is she is uncomfortable. And crucially make it fun, giving plenty of rewards
     
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  3. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    Do make sure to take it easy if she is showing signs of fear and to back away and give her more distance from whatever she is afraid of. If you don't do this, instead of 'socialising' her to things, you will 'sensitise' her to them instead...
     
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  4. LAS

    LAS Registered Users

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    This is helpful. I haven't been totally sure of how much to back off.
     
  5. LAS

    LAS Registered Users

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    Poppy definitely is wary in most new situation and she has always been very watchful. I didn't know at 12 weeks their is an increase in fear/anxiety. I'll focus on making new things more fun.

    I have wondered too though about giving her lots of treats when she is being really timid/anxious. If this is rewarding this behaviour?
     
  6. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    No it won't. She has an emotion that is not controlled by purposeful decision making.

    And on top of that what you are going to do is back off if she shows any sign of anxiety (eg lip licking, tense body, harder face). And back off until she displays any calming signal.(she looks away from the distraction, body becomes loose, she smiles) give here a treat.
     
  7. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    You can't reinforce an emotion, so no it won't make her more anxious if you give her treats. (If you are scared of spiders and a giant spider appears and someone gives you cake, are you going to have your fear of spiders reinforced because someone gave you cake? It doesn't work like that...)

    HOWEVER: Using treats around things a dog is scared of, can create a lot of conflict in the dog - the dog wants the food, but is also scared of the thing. 'Tempting' the dog closer to people or things they are scared of, using food, is counter-productive - the dog will lean in and snatch the food and get away again, but this will have no effect on the fear. In fact the opposite - many is the dog which has become afraid of cheese or frankfurters forevermore, because they have associated the scary thing with the food... (the association can go the other way...!)

    Instead, I would recommend you perhaps sign up for Grisha Stewart's online puppy course which you can take at your own pace. Grisha developed BAT - a method of working with fearful dogs around things they are scared of - and she has an online puppy course which implements a lot of ideas from BAT. I think that learning more about BAT would really help you to know what to do.

    Her online puppy course is here: https://grishastewart.com/empowered-puppy-raising/

    Good luck...
     
  8. WillowA

    WillowA Registered Users

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    If Willow is out and we encounter a lorry I show her the treats say "what's this" and all is forgotten she is totally centred on me and treats until the big nasty noisy lorry has passed usually gone the opposite way to us.
     
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  9. LAS

    LAS Registered Users

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    That's helpful advice. The timing of treats I think is important as you point out.
     
  10. LAS

    LAS Registered Users

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    Thanks this is all very helpful. I am going to look into this online course, it sounds interesting. I did make the mistake of tempting Poppy with treats when meeting people and she was scared. It didn't feel right and of course it wasn't. Fortunately, for her, I didn't persist with that approach.

    Poppy being only my second pup/dog, and being so different from my first, is an eye opener and I'm having to learn quite a lot quickly.

    This forum is very helpful for that :)
     

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