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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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