Totally normal. He's scared. But I understand why it freaks you out. I had a total breakdown when Peggy was around Winston's age, because she growled at our neighbour.
The dear folks at Poodle Forum kindly pointed out to me that it was because the neighbour was leaning out her car window and Peggy had never seen that before. I was thinking, "What is wrong with this dog? Why is my cute puppy growling at someone she's met multiple times??". Meanwhile Peggy was thinking, "Whyyy is that big shiny monster eating the neighbour????? Omg! I am very afraid! Rrrrrrrr! Stay away!!!!!"
Working with a positive reinforcement trainer was a big help. Even now, at 10 months, Peggy will still sometimes start to growl or bark if she's on our property and a stranger walks by, or if she can only see the silhouette of a neighbour and they're carrying tools for yard work or something, but then she'll stop herself and quickly look to me like, "Treat, please!!" Because we've taught her that scary things always = treats.
We've also always been careful not to push her. You give the treats. Not the scary person. Teach Winston that he can focus on you when the world feels a bit overwhelming. A good trainer can easily walk you through this process and help you to feel confident so that you can help Winston feel confident.
Thank you for your insight. It’s a bit of a relief. He is in a puppy class - only went 2/8 classes due to the social distancing now. I really can’t afford to pay for another class or private trainer at this point in time. They charge like $100-$200 an hour in my area. I heard and read that if the guests will ignore Winston and don’t make eye contact with him when they come over and let him come to them it will help. Also when we go on walks and he growls at someone, we should redirect him? Will these help him ? I don’t want him to bite !
You can accomplish a lot in an hour with a good trainer. Remember: They're training YOU so you can train your puppy. Even phone sessions can be extremely helpful.
Alternatively, pick up a book by an excellent trainer and read it cover to cover. Apply their methods consistently. I find that to be much more helpful than fragmented (and often contradictory) advice from well-meaning family, friends, and strangers, which can often do more harm than good. Dr. Ian Dunbar is my go-to and his extremely thorough puppy book is available in full online: