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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20179
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My 14 week old labradoodle was very socialised with other dogs

Customer Question

My 14 week old labradoodle was very socialised with other dogs before I had her at 12 weeks. Now she is very wary of dogs that she does not know. Has improved with my friends dog who she now loves, but is scared of other dogs. I let her watch others play and am not sure what to do next. Goes to puppy classes and has improved, but not pleased to see most dogs. I hoped she old want to play as she was socialised, not only with litter mates, but other dogs including an old grumpy dog. I know this was her pack. Is great with people though.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I've worked with animals professionally for over 17 years dealing with health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links to supporting websites at this time. So where there is a site listed, you may have to copy that to a separate browser window or tab to access the data there.

It is not unusual for a puppy to go though a fear stage. It usually occurs between 8-12 weeks of age but often coincides with the puppy going to a new home. Your pup may have gone through this stage a little later if you got him from the breeder later than normal. You can read more on the developmental stages on the following site:

You are doing the correct things in taking her to obedience classes and exposing her to a varied group of people and other dogs. I would continue this but would try and keep it to dogs in the class or dogs of friends and family that you know. While it is ok to go to the dog park, you don't want an aggressive dog scaring her at this point. So watch for any signs of aggression by other dogs. Allow interactions with only the calmest dogs at first. She is still very young, so there shouldn't be much altercations but as she matures that may change.

I would enlist your friends and family to help socialize her. Since she is still young, they could be introduced on your property, but as she gets older, you will want to introduce potential playmates on neutral ground such as an unused tennis court.

I know you have been praising her when she is interacting with other dogs in an acceptable manner. You may want to feed her a tasty treat as well as the praise. While praise is great, dogs love those tasty hot dog slices and it really does reinforce the desired behavior. You definitely do not want to fuss or reassure her when she is fearful. In fact, you want to be upbeat, laugh and be as positive as you can so she sees there is nothing to worry about.

You also need to be positive that you are in control of interactions. Bring an umbrella with you. It can be opened and used to create a barrier between two dogs if needed. You might never need it, but if a dog ever does charge you or your dog in an aggressive manner, you will be glad you have something to use as a barrier.

It really sounds like you have a good handle on this problem and maybe was just seeking some assurance that you were handling the situation correctly which you are. I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have.

If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.