Puppy Socialization

by Nancy Sanderson
(Monroe Township, NJ)

We got our Bichon puppy at 4 months of age from a breeder. His sister would not come near us. He bonded with my husband and myself immediately. But he is deathly afraid of people. We did 6 weeks of training. It took 4 weeks for him to take a treat from the teacher then he’d run away. If we have people over he barks the whole time. We are at our wits end trying to get him socialized and it is not working. He was urinating all over the house until he was neutered. Yesterday someone came over and in between all the barking he started wetting the rugs again. Any suggestions as to how we can get rid of his fear of people?

Our Response

Hi and thank you for taking the time to ask a question it helps to keep our site happy and prosperous! Ok you need to socialize your dog with as many people as you can – and I mean as many as you can! Take him out all the time and introduce him to new people – different genders, older people, people in uniforms, wearing hats, tall people, small people, people on bikes, people walking dogs, cars, noise, strangers – get the picture. I would advise enrolling gin dog training classes again – the teacher really should have socialized your dog in the that amount of time! I would try another class with another teacher. Training classes are a great way for a dog to meet other dogs and people – there is nothing better. Not only can the trainer spot any problems developing you can ask other owners questions and find out how they cured similar problems.

It sounds as though your dog has developed a fear based behavior problem – it is always difficult to start obedience training a dog from four months old if there has not been any training or socialization up to that age. You need to remember that your dog is still very young and he is reaching an age where new problems may start and you will need to keep your puppy under close supervision.

From the age of four months up to six months of age – you can expect some of the behavior listed below

1. Your puppy may start to become over excited and a little exuberance – bumping and barging around the House.

2. Your puppy may start to exhibit and show signs of sexual maturity

3. He may become destructive around the House

4. An increased thirst for knowledge, want to play games and learn obedience training

5. Your puppy may become dominant, increasingly protective and territorial

6. May display aggressive behavior towards dogs of the same sex

7. Your puppy may also display a NEW fear around objects and people that were previously quite familiar. Recognize this problem?

You should increase your training – remember that you need to be on guard all the time and expose your puppy to new environments (but don’t let your puppy be scared through fear evoking situations).

You need to continue to be strong and confident pack leader – be calm, fair, consistent and patient and your puppy will learn to respect you and understand his boundaries.

Exercise and continue to build a relationship with your puppy – this will increase your bond and strengthen your relationship.

If your puppy is peeing or displaying fearful behavior when strangers come round – put your pooch in the crate or take him straight outside. Remember a big tall stranger leaning over your very small puppy is very scary – imagine if a massive dog ten times your size did the same – I’m pretty sure you would pee too. Ask strangers not to approach your puppy – just act normally around your pooch.

Continue the potty training process – attach a leash to your pooch – put a cue on going outside ‘Lets Potty’ take him outside and as soon as he is about to pee or poop say ‘Go Potty’ – when he has done his business give him lots of praise and a treat. When you are not able to supervise your puppy put him in the Crate and remember it is very early days and you should expect some accidents.

Hope all this helps.