Is my puppy traumatized??

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Is my puppy traumatized??

This is a discussion on Is my puppy traumatized?? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I have a 14 week old shih tzu puppy that just finished all of his vaccinations about two weekends ago. I was so anxious to ...

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Old 08-16-2011, 06:32 PM
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Is my puppy traumatized??

I have a 14 week old shih tzu puppy that just finished all of his vaccinations about two weekends ago. I was so anxious to get him out of the house that I signed him up for a small dog play date this past Friday and then his first grooming appt the following day. The play date went well I thought. There were about 10-12 dog owners there with their small dogs/pups. At first my puppy was really scared, he would hide in the corner or under the table with his tail tucked in. He would run away from the other dogs if they get too close or want to play with him. But eventually he broke out of his shell and started getting more curious and would just stand on the side and watch the other dogs play . . . and then slowly joining in. I thought he had a good time since towards the end of the night, he was running around with all the dogs and playing. Then the next day, we took him to his grooming appointment. He was surprisingly very calm when we picked him up about 1.5 hrs later. The groomer told us that he was very nervous at the beginning but then he got more relaxed towards the end, and recommended that we go back every month to get him used to the whole grooming process. I don't know if it's because my bf is extra paranoid, but he is claiming that our puppy has gotten a lot more calm and has since then barked less. I think he is a bit calmer, but still playful. No change in his eating or playing, maybe just less whiny. I think my bf is a bit upset with me because he thinks we should baby the pup more and that we had traumatized him by introducing too much to him in such a short amount of time. So what do you guys think? Am I really forcing too much onto the puppy and now he is traumatized?
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:10 PM
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There is a saying. A tired pup is a good pup. My bet is that he is exhausted from so much activity. I say tired... Not traumatized.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:10 PM
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I wouldn't worry (: I think he's just getting used to things that happen to him regularly, and he'll be fine. But if he starts eating less often, and acts really scared I would be concearned.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:20 PM
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Its hard for me to offer an opinion on if the puppy is traumatized or not without both knowing him, and being able to observe him.
However, I think you are correct to be thinking about these things and trying to adjust for the right amount of "input" for the puppy. Yes, you certainly want to be socializing the puppy. He sounds a wee bit timid. But next time perhaps you can arrange things so he gets to play with one or two puppies, rather than a dozen. Its good that he seemed to gain some comfort level as the session went on. That indicates he was not really over done a lot. Its also important puppies get rest and peace and quiet after such a session, as they will be very tired and recuperation time is important to sort of "absorbing" the positive lesson of the play date.

In so far as grooming, that is a different issue and I hope one of the groomers here will comment on that. Grooming tends to be very traumatic for a dog. Most often what they do in response is to go into a sort of state of "shutdown" in which they may appear calm, but actually they are sort of paralyzed into inaction. An hour and a half is a very long time for a puppy (or dog) to be in a fearful situation. Next time, I might choose not to leave the puppy, but rather find a groomer that will let you stand at the puppy's head and feed him very tasty treats while the groomer does perhaps 30 minutes of something very easy on the pup, such as just brushing. A groomer SHOULD allow you to watch. If you are not allowed to stay there, then I would not leave the puppy. And be ready to call it quits for the session if the puppy shows signs of stress.

I think you and your BF are very sensitive and caring and should trust yourselves in terms of learning to read your puppy and how he is feeling. The fact he seemed to get "too" quiet after all this input may indeed mean he was over-stimulated. Or maybe he was just tired. But from what you describe he is a little timid by nature, so you want to be careful. He needs lots of regular socialization, but in very short, positive, not too overwhelming sessions.

Go over to this thread and learn about calming signals. I think that will help you to read his stress levels better.

There is also
Turid Rugas's book, Turid Rugas's book,
which is excellent, not too long, and has lots of pics to help you see this in dogs. Some of it is very subtle, so not what we humans normally notice without some training for us!

Hope some of that helps.

One final word... puppies are very resilient, and none of us have done a perfect job raising one. So don't be too hard on yourself. Just keep learning and you'll continue to make adjustments. You are already 100 steps ahead of most people who write in here!
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:32 PM
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Let me just add that it will greatly help your puppy if you brush him a few minutes every day, while also feeding him delicious treats. This will get him used to being brushed and create a positive association. Feed him something really special such as bits of cooked chicken or tiny bits of a quality hot dog (1/8 inch cubes... you can give a lot that way!) Its very important to keep the tangles out of his coat so he won't get matted and need a total clipper-stripping job, which is very hard on a dog. Plus, when you take him to the groomer, he will be familiar with the process of being brushed already.

One more thought... Llasas can be a timid breed, that can turn to defensive aggression when older. So when you see him behaving in a very timid way, you want to reduce his stress by managing the situation, so he's not traumatized by it. For example, move him further away from the commotion, let him take his time coming over to investigate etc.

As far as how YOU should be if he is timid.... Your job is to be calm. Don't pick him up and comfort him as that will transmit your nervousness. Merely step away and let him follow you. Say nothing. Then if he shows signs of curiosity, that is what you want to reinforce with happy talk and even treats.

Don't coax and call to him, as actually that creates a lot of pressure. Just let him figure out when he is ready to investigate and be social. Mostly the less you do, the better, except to provide the occasional positive reinforcement for signs of courage.

So for example, if someone comes to the house and he ducks under the chair, just let him be. Tell the visitor not to look at the puppy or call to him. Give the puppy time. You can toss treats to the puppy so he associates visitors with treats. You can let the visitor casually drop treats too. So basically the idea is to give the puppy time to get used to what ever is "scary" and also provide positive associations.

I feel like I"m rambling... hope something in there is useful!

Last edited by Tess; 08-16-2011 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:53 PM
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Wow, thank you for all the great advice everyone!

I think we are just very nervous since this is our first dog and I guess we're just trying our hardest to be the best parents lol.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by passionfruit61 View Post
Wow, thank you for all the great advice everyone!

I think we are just very nervous since this is our first dog and I guess we're just trying our hardest to be the best parents lol.
I think you would really like this book. Its an easy fast read and has a wonderful "tone" to it that I think you would appreciate, being a sensitive new puppy parent!
Amazon.com: puppy primer Amazon.com: puppy primer
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:25 PM
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Tess: Thank you for the book recommendation! I also checked out the "calming signals" thread and got some really interesting information!

I do have another question though . . . I started to notice that sometimes my puppy will just come over, sit in front of me and just stare at me. He will also sometimes do that from far away. Is he trying to tell me something? Or looking for my directions to do something? *scratching head*
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:42 PM
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Tess: Thank you for the book recommendation! I also checked out the "calming signals" thread and got some really interesting information!
Yeah that's great stuff. I'm still studying my dogs' calming signals!

Quote:
Originally Posted by passionfruit61 View Post
I do have another question though . . . I started to notice that sometimes my puppy will just come over, sit in front of me and just stare at me. He will also sometimes do that from far away. Is he trying to tell me something? Or looking for my directions to do something? *scratching head*
That's really great he does that! Eye contact is a sign of good confidence! Yes, he is trying to tell you something. I've had puppies do this to tell me anything from they are hungry to they need to go out to potty. He's trying to get your attention. See if you can figure out what YOU do with him, that is preceded by steady eye contact.

You are a great dog mum! He is responding really well to you and he knows you are trying to "listen"... which is why he's trying to communicate.
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Old 08-17-2011, 04:57 PM
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Yeah that's great stuff. I'm still studying my dogs' calming signals!



That's really great he does that! Eye contact is a sign of good confidence! Yes, he is trying to tell you something. I've had puppies do this to tell me anything from they are hungry to they need to go out to potty. He's trying to get your attention. See if you can figure out what YOU do with him, that is preceded by steady eye contact.

You are a great dog mum! He is responding really well to you and he knows you are trying to "listen"... which is why he's trying to communicate.
Oh wow that's reassuring!!! I was getting a little worried because I've read somewhere that when they look at you square in the eye that means that they want to challenge you or something! Sometimes I wish I can read their minds! lol I still have a lot to learn!
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