Andy Snapped at Friendly Strangers!

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Andy Snapped at Friendly Strangers!

This is a discussion on Andy Snapped at Friendly Strangers! within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; I took Andy Pup (Cocker Spaniel, will be 4 months old next week) to one of the local parks this morning. He's a cute pup ...

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Old 03-08-2014, 11:18 AM
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Andy Snapped at Friendly Strangers!

I took Andy Pup (Cocker Spaniel, will be 4 months old next week) to one of the local parks this morning. He's a cute pup and tends to attract attention, so I wasn't surprised when people started coming up to us. Three teenage girls stopped to say hi and Andy snapped at them! I did not expect my friendly little puppy to react this way, and I don't want it to happen again. I'm not sure what went wrong. The girls approached slowly, asked permission, and crouched down to "puppy level" instead of leaning over the dog. They weren't noisy, weren't carrying anything that might be scary looking to a pup, no sudden movements - as far as I could see, they did everything right. Any ideas? I want Andy to be comfortable when people approach, since there are really no places around here where he won't run into new people. Also, as we were walking back to the car, we passed a mom and her kid (about 4 years old) and Andy growled at the kid! The child was about 15 feet away, wasn't moving, wasn't even looking in our direction, and Andy stared at the kid and growled as we walked past. I would appreciate any suggestions to stop this behavior before it escalates - thanks so much!
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:36 AM
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Three teenagers at once might have been too much for him at this stage in his life. Although they asked permission, they asked for yours, not his. He likely snapped at them because he was afraid. That fear probably wasn't gone when he saw the child and then reacted again.
When people ask permission to pet him, ask them to stand back within leash distance and allow him to approach them in his own time. If he doesn't approach them, let it be and wait for another opportunity. He'll probably soon learn that being that close to strangers isn't necessarily a bad thing. Explain that he is still a pup and he is not used to all the attention he gets from strangers. I think most people will understand and be happy to help.
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:37 PM
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You could also carry yummy treats and when people stop and ask to pet him encourage them to give him a treat first so he associates new people with yummy food. You could also do the same with kids. If you take him to the park or anywhere else likely populated with kids, you can treat him every time he looks at a kid and doesn't react. I'd just be careful to not let eager children rush over to pet him, as I bet he is totally adorable!

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Old 05-29-2014, 09:33 PM
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Remember that socialization is about quality not quantity. If a lot of people stopped to pet him, and he was starting to get stressed, or if it was the first time he'd been to the park and he was feeling overwhelmed, before the teenagers stopped and asked to pet him then they might have been just one thing to many.

Learn what his signs are when he's starting to get stressed. Look for tongue flicks, yawns, averting his gaze, going belly up, trying to hide behind you, and hunching down. When you see him giving those signs call it quits and take him home. Before he shows them is the time to get out the treats and have people drop them for him, or feed him them as y'all watch all the sights. As Lucklein mentioned let him approach the people, request that they don't reach out to pet him. You can have them drop him treats, but still let him decide if he wants to approach or not.
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