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Hi Everyone!
I'd like to introduce Maeby (registered name Maeby She's Born With It 馃槉), the 11 week old standard poodle. She has been doing very well with potty training even though she's had a bit of a UTI. I do need some advice on socialization. She is quite timid in new situations, and shies away from people who try to pet her, move too fast, or are loud. We do a lot of just watching the world and looking at new things from a distance, but I'm not sure how to get her to come out of her shell more. To be honest, I wasn't expecting her to be so shy so it's been tough to adjust.

We are trying to keep things positive, but it's hard because so many things are new to her and therefore a little scary! If she does go up to a person, we tell them to take it slow and let her smell them first, but it always seems like they will let her smell them and then immediately reach for her head which makes her run away. She hasn't met too many new dogs, but she also takes awhile to warm up to them. We went to a puppy class last weekend which was manly instruction based, but I asked the trainer if she could interact with his dog and she eventually played with his tiny 12 week old papillon which was great!
I want to hopefully come out of this critical socialization window with a more brave and confident puppy. Does anyone have any advice, tips, experience? Any specific socialization outings we should be doing in the next week?
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What a pretty girl. I've seen a lot of puppies outgrow this shyness with careful socialization so I wouldn't worry too much at this point. I would try to take everything at her level of comfort. Encourage her to explore the world and praise her for being adventurous. Teach by example by using confidence, happiness, and laughter to guide her.

If she does not like to be pet, I would not let people pet her. Many dogs do not really like being pet by strangers and it can be quite scary to a shy puppy. People suck at reading dog body language so it is better to set boundaries for them. I would state to them that she is shy and afraid of being pet, but she would enjoy if they could give her a treat and let her sniff their hand. You want her to feel that she is in control of how much interaction she has with strangers. This will help her to feel comfortable enough to come out of her shell. If she still seems very shy about approaching strangers for a treat, have them toss it a short distance to her and then work her up.

Please keep us updated on how she's doing. She is a cute little girl.
 

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Hi,

just my experience here. My puppy (currently 4 months old and extremely outgoing and social now) was super timid and shy for the first couple weeks we had her. We just took her everywhere (stores, parks, busy streets) and carried her around since she wasn't vaccinated yet. She felt safe in our arms I guess, and she got to experience lots of sounds, sights, smells. And then slowly started to have friends sit on the ground and eventually she approached them on her own time. We never had strangers come up and pet her since she wasn't a fan of that. Then came normal stuff like puppy social hour where she was paired up with another puppy her size in a seperate room. She'll eventually open up, 11 weeks is still really young! Good luck!
 

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Cute little girl! Aw.

When did you bring her home? Peggy was very timid with strangers the first few days, and then quickly blossomed. For her it was very much about her diet and getting her feeling well.

Assuming Maeby is eating and digesting fine, and has received a clean bill of health from your vet, I would focus on building her confidence in fun, positive ways. Don't push the stuff that makes her nervous. Print off a socialization checklist if you haven't already, and start creating experiences with the things that encourage her curiosity. Things like walking on new surfaces, exposure to different sounds, etc. Always doing it with play, in a lighthearted way. If she won't take treats or starts snatching them from your hand, you've pushed her too far. Take a step way back.

I would also ask your trainer for tips.

Maeby's early socialization window is about to close, but with a shy temperament I'd think the focus (even moreso than usual) should be on quality of experiences rather than quality.
 

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Thanks for your comments! I will continue to take it slow and definitely be more forceful telling people they can鈥檛 pet her.

When did you bring her home?
We鈥檝e had her for about a week and a half. So I know we are all just figuring each other out, but some articles make it seem like it鈥檚 extremely abnormal for puppies to be showing signs of fear which was stressful to read.

I would also ask your trainer for tips.
Based on my lurking around this forum, it seems like you have a really amazing trainer Peggy. The trainer I go to is pretty good, but I think they excel at teach more for the masses rather than the individuals if that makes sense. In November we鈥檙e starting another class at our local Training Club so hopefully that is helpful too.
I tend to overthink things so I know I just need to let her be herself and working things out slowly. I will keep you posted!
 

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Thanks for your comments! I will continue to take it slow and definitely be more forceful telling people they can鈥檛 pet her.


We鈥檝e had her for about a week and a half. So I know we are all just figuring each other out, but some articles make it seem like it鈥檚 extremely abnormal for puppies to be showing signs of fear which was stressful to read.


Based on my lurking around this forum, it seems like you have a really amazing trainer Peggy. The trainer I go to is pretty good, but I think they excel at teach more for the masses rather than the individuals if that makes sense. In November we鈥檙e starting another class at our local Training Club so hopefully that is helpful too.
I tend to overthink things so I know I just need to let her be herself and working things out slowly. I will keep you posted!
I can definitely relate to this. Peggy growled at our vet on the third day we had her, and it was easy to find articles online that confirmed my worst fears. The trainer our vet referred us to wouldn't even work with us! She told us to return Peggy.

Now Peggy loves going to the vet! The groomer, too. But that old fear still lurks at the edges, and that's why I'm so grateful we eventually found the trainer we did. She talked us down and helped us choose a path forward that would keep Peggy social while not overwhelming her. And she continues to provide support.

But really it just all comes down to positive reinforcement, keeping your puppy under threshold, and letting her know every day, in every way, that she can count on you.

I also think the opportunity to play with other puppies under careful supervision is helpful. We had a few timid puppies come through our classes, and even just sitting on the sidelines and watching the fun seemed to help them come out of their shells.

Re-reading your post, I wonder if the UTI might be a factor... If she's getting sudden pain, that can make the world feel very scary and unpredictable. And if she's on an antibiotic, she might not be feeling very well.
 

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Any specific socialization outings we should be doing in the next week?

You could try making your rounds to the local small business pet shops (perhaps carry her due to immunizations) and let the staff pet "ooh and aww" and give her treats. Let them know you live in the neighborhood and will be seeing Maeby frequently.

They're forced to socialize with your puppy for good customer service lol
 

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First don't panic. You will be fine. I would pick her up as much as possible so she is out of reach of small small children who may be more impulsive than adults and often just want to pat the pup on the head. When a person shows interest in her ask them to help socialize her. People mostly love to be helpful. Give them some small (really small) yummy treats to give her. Have them talk to her while she takes and eats the treats. If she decides she doesn't want to eat them she is telling you she is nervous and just say thank you and stop while you are still ahead. If she is enthusiastic for the treats then ask them to gently pet her on the shoulder or on her neck, not on the top of her head. Keep going as long as she is taking treats. I think poodles bear a lot of rough petting since so many people want to stick fingers into the curls. When my nieces were small the big sister always used to run her fingers through little sister's hair. Little sister hated that and one of the very first things she said reliably was "make her leave my hair alone!!!"
 
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Poppy was a nervous puppy when I got her at 12 weeks. Not too worryingly so, but cautious around new things, slow to warm up to visitors, and definitely not wanting to be petted by strangers. I had a mantra - "By the time she's two she will be fine!" and set about making it happen.

I discovered she hated being loomed over, but would happily approach anyone who crouched down or sat on the ground, so anyone wanting to greet her was asked to get down low and offer her the treat I handed to them. She then chose whether or not to approach.

I taught her that the space between my feet was a Safe Place - much better than picking her up, as it meant she was still in control and I had both hands free to fend off over-enthusiastic dogs or children. I have seen a lot of small dogs learn to be fearful and even aggressive because their owners scooped them up as soon as another dog or human approached.

We did lots and lots of short puppy walks in nice safe places, lots of sitting and watching the world go by, lots of social visits to the vets at non-busy times (probably not possible with Covid, but may be worth asking) for a few minutes of games and treats with the staff, lots of inviting nice children round to play (difficult at the moment, but may be possible outside), lots of really good puppy classes (ditto), visited friendly dogs of all sizes for play sessions, and when she was a year old started agility training.

And one day I realised she was nearly two, and had actually been fine for ages. Not the life and soul of the party, and still rather over-attached to me, but happy and confident and fine. The key is lots and lots of short, happy experiences - I think of it as a sort of bank account, where 20 good experiences will pay for one mildly bad one, and 100 help bounce back from something more serious. But she still gets to choose whether she greets someone or not, and quite often prefers not to!
 
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fjm you make a very good point about how the world looks to small (short) dogs. When I have tiny puppies or toy breed dogs around the hardest exercises for them are the novice stand for exam and the utility moving stand for exam. You would think judges would consider that but many of them where clunky shoes and have heavy footfalls when approaching. My trainer who has Pomeranians has a list of judges she will only show to in open since the judge has no reason to approach her dog. Making a safe space between your feet is a great plan, but I still see a place for picking up small dogs, just so long as the owner doesn't startle them in the process.
 
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fjm you make a very good point about how the world looks to small (short) dogs. When I have tiny puppies or toy breed dogs around the hardest exercises for them are the novice stand for exam and the utility moving stand for exam. You would think judges would consider that but many of them where clunky shoes and have heavy footfalls when approaching. My trainer who has Pomeranians has a list of judges she will only show to in open since the judge has no reason to approach her dog. Making a safe space between your feet is a great plan, but I still see a place for picking up small dogs, just so long as the owner doesn't startle them in the process.
Zoe went through a period where she shrank away from any male judge who approached her. Betty, her handler, was able to work her through her fear. When we started obedience, I had the same issue for the stand for exam, so I started taking her to obedience club meetings as well as to agility and obedience classes and asked every man there to please pet her and give her a treat. I suspect that once this pandemic has eased and we can go back to classes that I'll have to do all that again. Now that it's getting cooler, I can take her to Home Depot and Pet Smart to remind her that men are not evil.
 
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