We all want a puppy that is outgoing, confident and not afraid to approach anyone, one that grows up to be a good “ol’ dawg”. Occasionally we come across puppies that are very timid and almost fearful. You do what you can initially thinking they will grow out of it, but as age 4,5 and 6 months come and go, they’re still fearful.
Irrespective of what you think, these fearful puppies need help –sooner than later. You should embark on a major campaign to get the puppy used to and comfortable with whatever specific things seem to spook your pup. Your goal is to have a puppy who will willingly and confidently go up to all of these things of which he was once fearful. How do you do that?
It is critical that the puppy be able to approach those things of which he is fearful on his own time and speed. If the puppy wants to stay away, that should be okay. This, above all rules, must be respected and not forced on the puppy. Some call it passive socialization.
If the puppy is afraid of someone and you force that “someone” on the puppy, you’ve just confirmed that person to be dangerous. Let the puppy approach in his own way and time. If the puppy trusts you, click and treat for approaches and, if you’ ve been working on sits and downs, begin to work on redirecting his focus on training at a comfortable distance from the someone or something that is spooky and begin to slowly and methodically get your puppy closer. But remember, it should always be the puppy’s choice to approach. If he backs off, that’s okay too.
Bottom line: This takes time and patience. Do not, I repeat, Do Not switch gears and pressure the puppy. You’ll be glad you had the patience to take the time to make things work out.