Very shy at puppy party? - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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Angry Very shy at puppy party?

We thought that our 3 month old had been settling in fairly well (he's met around 50 people and 10 dogs) but when we took him to a puppy party today, it was terrible!

I was worried about him being overly excited and barking while playing with the other puppies (which is what he has done with other dogs he has played with) but instead he was super shy, timid and fearful! He didn't want to play with any of the other dogs, and ran to hide behind us. He was a tiny bit more comfortable at the end of the session, but still wasn't anywhere near playing.

Obviously we are looking to sign him up for puppy classes ASAP, but is there anything else we should be doing? Has anyone else had this happen? He's met and played with a few other dogs without any issues, so we were quite surprised. We got him from a well-reviewed breeder, and his parents don't have any shyness issues that we know of, nor has he had any traumatic experiences. Is this something he can overcome, with our help?

I'm worried that this fearful behavior means that he will grow into a fearful (and potentially, aggressive) adult.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 09:12 AM
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Welcome to DT! What is a puppy party? What you should be concentrating on at his age is taking him EVERYWHERE to expose him to all kinds of sights, smells, feelings (footings), and people. Being thrown in to a situation with other dogs in close proximity is not important, instead I would encourage you to take him places where there may be other dogs where you can work on his focus with you when the other dogs are in sight- think puppy class but in a real world setting. It's a common misconception to think that puppies need to play with other puppies or dogs at a young age. They were with their litter mates until 8, 10,12 weeks and have experienced a lot of other dogs and what they need most instead is what I mentioned above. Go to the farmer's market, public park, outdoor restaurant, hardware store, etc.!
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 09:35 AM
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Very Good advise Greenie !
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 09:36 AM
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How many puppies/dogs were there at this 'party'. Have you ever watched a two or three year old kid in the midst of a bunch of kids or adults for that matter--they spend most of their time hiding behind their parents. Just too much input for youngsters.

For the record--survival behavior for puppies is to stay inconspicuous. There is a lot of difference between meeting 50 people one or two at a time--ditto for meeting 10 dogs--probably didn't meet them as a pack either.

I'm with greenkouki on this--I really don't bother to socialize my puppies with dogs--in fact I do no allow nor encourage puppies to greet other dogs while they are on leash--I start out assuming my newest puppy is going to be a show dog and I don't want him thinking that every other dog means a big play time.

People and places--yes! The puppies go everywhere with me and some of the people they meet are up close and occasionally in groups but they see a lot more just going where ever I go. Libraries, hardware stores etc. I do take them to puppy classes but when it comes time to let puppies loose together--we just leave. What I want the pup to learn from all of this is how to remain attentive to me and how to behave in the presence of strange dogs.

By the time I got him he already knew how to play with other puppies.

Good luck--at three months he's really still very young.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 10:04 AM
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I have seen many a puppy end up with problems from being taken to a dog park and simply overwhelmed. I wonder if this was a similar experience?

It sounds like you were previously doing play dates with one or two "safe" and tested dogs, is that right? I don't really recommend puppies play in large groups; it has so much potential to go wrong and puppies can get easily overwhelmed OR overstimulated. Even a good puppy class, if it has "free play", will be for just a few minutes and heavily supervised by a skilled trainer. My dog's puppy class, for example, was mostly learning skills. We'd have a brief break for play (this was maybe 6 puppies total). It was maybe 3-4 minutes of play, and we'd interrupt any play where a puppy was getting overwhelmed, or playing too hard. Again, small group, and skilled supervision. You have to be really careful with young puppies.

It's much better for puppies to play with one or two other puppies with similar play styles, or with an adult dog that is a trusted, stable dog.

I wouldn't hesitate to go to puppy class IF it's a good class. It should be mostly/all skill based, but there should be built in rest time, too. Young pups simply can't focus for a full hour! I wouldn't sign up for a puppy class that involves puppies playing the whole time, or even much of the time. It's good for puppies to go to classes where they learn to work with YOU while other dogs are present. I want my dogs to learn that when we're around other dogs, we focus on US, not the other dogs.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 02:16 PM
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So firstly, even confident puppies can be overwhelmed when they are thrown into a context with lots of new dogs AND people AND a new location. That doesn't mean he will grow into a shy and fearful dog just mean it was probably far too much imput as Dobebug says.

You got good advice from greenkouki and from MC, as well as bug. Your puppy has been exposed to lots of dogs and people so maybe now would be the time to start working on focus and learning to ignore distractions. The goal of socialisation isn't for dogs to learn to be best friends with other dogs (or every stranger they encounter). It's for them to learn that other dogs/distractions/people aren't a big deal worth fussing over.

You could potentially also work on confidence building exercises and situations, but you don't need other dogs or people for that, building a self assured puppy will come from facing age appropriate challenges, that puppy will overcome and then get praise/treats/rewards for.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 02:49 PM
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Zeus was the shyest, most "omg leave me aloooone!" puppy ever! And we only learned this after we signed him up for a puppy class. I forget how old he was... Maybe 13 or 14 weeks? Anyway, he was the puppy that would run away from all the other pups in class. He'd hide under chairs. He'd run behind my legs. I was worried too because I thought all puppies were outgoing and playful. Zeus loved being around people more than dogs, and in class he'd be happiest saying hi to all the humans.

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Now at a little over 2 and half years old, he has certain doggy friends that he'll play with, though his play mostly consists of either running with them or chase/be chased. He's not a rough and tumble type and actually avoids contact with others! He is very friendly with other dogs and wants to meet new friends, so being a standoffish puppy wasn't a sign of being a standoffish adult. (And I use the term adult very loosely with this knucklehead, lol) Like others have said, keep working with him to build up his confidence in various situations. He'll be fine!

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 03:21 PM
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Hi captain! And welcome from the Pacific NW.

I am going to offer a broad generalization based solely on my opinion and my experience.

Dobermans as a breed, both as pups, adolescents and adults, do much better recreationally one on one rather than in a group. This, at least, has always been true of my boys.

This personality trait one is the reasons why many Dobe owners reject leash free dogs parks as a means of exercise and release for their dogs. In addition, Dobermans are powerful dogs. Their medium size designation belies their strength and agility. In rough play, they can simply overwhelm most older dogs. This is even true of puppies. Dobermans also tend to mature mentally rather slowly compared to physically. In human terms (ages), for a while, you could have an 18 yo with the impulsiveness of a 5 yo.

BTW, my current youngest (5 1/2) has never been off-leash in public and has never played with more than one dog at a time. He is totally non-reactive and completely at ease around other dogs. More importantly, he has always been totally content with this arrangement.

I believe, although some may disagree, that Dobermans, as a breed, do not require considerable interaction with other dogs to be well rounded and happy.


John Lichtwardt
Portland OR
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