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Riley's Mom
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Riley being protective this young? When we are outside walking around and a neighbor is walking the opposite direction, Riley stops, growls, barks and then if the person continues walking towards us he'll try to charge up to them with his back fur all bristled as he snorts and grumbles.

It's all talk... as soon as he reaches the stranger he'll wag his tail and be all friendly. (And yes, I only let him reach the stranger if the person WANTS to meet him.)

Just wondering if this is normal in a young puppy, will fade over time as he is socialized and gets used to walking around strangers, etc., and also how I should handle it.

I am more worried about strangers feeling uncomfortable with him doing that, than I am about him hurting anyone, 'cause he doesn't bite, just acts tough. So, do I just tell people he's okay, or is there something I should do to help him not be so... intimidating... this early... haha? People are amazed at what a deep growl and bark he has for being so young and little. I've seen some weird looks by kids especially.

Thanks, as always!

Oh yeah, my last puppy class went well, finally. Riley had a lot of fun and everything was safe and short. I even learned some tips from the trainer this time. I loved the improvement I saw.
 

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It's a fear period, not protective behavior at all. He is trying to look bigger and badder to scare off those people so they don't get him, then he goes into submission when it comes down to it. You just need to socialize, socialize, socialize. Prime was this way with kids and babies when I first got him, except he never submitted...he still wanted to get at them. Now he tolerates them and does not react at all, you would never know how he used to be.
 

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It's fear based typically not protection. There is nothing to protect from :) Are there are good puppy classes that can show you how to handle this? Definitely keep socializing but I'd try to do it under threshold.
 

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Semper Fidelis
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857 Posts
I havent trained a puppy in a long time, but I find that with fosters who have no leash manners, pulling them a bit to the side and having them sit politely as someone approaches is an effective way of curbing the lunging and barking behaviours. Also, the pup/dog should not be in front of you, but rather at your side in these situations so there is no need for it to feel it must protect you.
 
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