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Puppy fear behaviours

April 2nd, 2008, 01:33 PM
Our puppy is 4 1/2 months old and has been raised with our large family with children from 3 to teenage and is amazing with everyone!! We had a visitor come for a quick visit. The puppy was laying beside me on the sofa and she came over to meet the puppy and put her hand out. The puppy was calm and sniffed her as I petted him. A few minutes after she sat down on another sofa he started a low, deep belly Growl. He was looking towards her and wouldn't stop. I put him outside until she left. I know now I should have corrected him and praised him when he stopped.
Anyway, is this normal for this age and how do I get him not to be fearful? He wasn't acting 'scared' in my eyes, but for a dog I think this is a fear response to someone unfamiliar? He's a doberman male.

April 2nd, 2008, 01:39 PM
I'm a cat slave myself, no dogs, but maybe he thought he was protecting you. :shrug:

The dog slaves will be along soon to help you out I'm sure.:D

April 2nd, 2008, 01:54 PM
It could be a fear response... my dog did growl at several people when he was that age, it was because he was totally scared, not aggressive. Is your pup generally fearful? Mine was, of a lot of things. He has since been thoroughly socialized and is a very sweet dog, I haven't heard him growl at any person since he was a scared little pup. He is now more likely to lick someone to death, lol! He is still scared of some men though, but just shrinks away from them. If this is because your pup is scared, I'd recommend socializing with strangers, including both men and women. And of course, obedience training to build confidence and help establish order in the house.

On the other hand, a doberman is a protective sort of a breed, so could be that tendency as well. I'm no expert :shrug:

April 3rd, 2008, 09:24 AM
Socializing is the key here.

He's great with your family because he sees them all the time.But at this age he should be socialized with everyone.This means other people and kids.This is very important.:)

My dogs started socializing at a very young age.This was very important with the breeder.And when I got them at 3 months,I continued it.

How is he with other people outside the family?

April 5th, 2008, 09:10 AM
Puppies go through "fear periods" where, all of a sudden, they react in a fearful manner to things that are new and even familiar things that didn't used to bother them. I'm noticing it myself now with our 5 and a half month old. You will find many links to this subject if you google "fear period puppies". Here's one:

The key is to be calm, do not reinforce by sympathy, and try to avoid very exciting situations where you will have no hope of control. Calm non-reaction to the fearful object on your part can go a long way. Please read several of the links you find, they will explain things much better than I can, I'm sure.

April 5th, 2008, 02:38 PM
He's great with your family because he sees them all the time.But at this age he should be socialized with everyone.This means other people and kids.This is very important.:)

I agree with you. Roxy is 10 wks old and when we got her the breeder told us to make sure she was well socialized. We take her everywhere with us and she meets new people everyday.

April 5th, 2008, 06:26 PM
Yes but remember that socialization is lifelong and includes more than just people. New situations are also a part of socialization. No matter how well socialized as a young puppy a fear period can still induce a fearful reaction, such as growling. For example, my last pup saw garbage cans and blue bins once a week on pick up day. Nevertheless, she still went into a fearful shying away from them when she was about five months old. Two weeks later she was over it. The same can happen with people visiting.

Children go through this too. I bet everyone has heard of it in children where it is sometimes called "making strange".