Puppies are curious little creatures. They play, cuddle and warm your heart. Sometimes though, they can get scared when approached or they think you want to play an energetic game of tag when it's really time to stop playing or come inside. Positive reinforcement is key in both of these.
Fear and Shyness
Resist the urge to coddle and reassure your pooch that things are OK. While this is natural human instinct, it actually reinforces the idea that it's OK to be afraid of this strange person.
Socialize your little pooch with new people on a regular schedule, but also on her own time. Have new people come over and instruct them not to approach the puppy, look at her in the eye or even talk to her. Have them sit quietly in a chair and have a conversation with you while the puppy is in the room. Most puppies will come up to a new person even if they are shy or scared, as long as the person doesn't intimidate them.
Let new people offer your puppy tasty little treats when she meets them, but only if she isn't showing extreme fearfulness. Getting tasty treats will help her learn that people aren't bad and she can expect good things from them.
Enroll your puppy in a puppy obedience class. Puppies learn best from other dogs, and they will pick up good and bad behaviors from other dogs more quickly than from people. Letting her interact with new puppies and having her observe how other puppies act with their people can make a world of difference in a fearful pup.
Consult an experienced veterinary behaviorist to help your pup overcome her fears if your attempts fail. Sometimes other issues may be present, and professional help can go a long way into helping your pooch become social and happy.
Running When Called
Say your pup's name in a loud, clear, happy voice and give her praise and a small treat when she looks at you.
Repeat this when your pup is looking away or otherwise distracted. Again, give her a tasty little treat when she looks at you or comes to you upon you saying her name.
Repeat these exercises in short, five-minute intervals a couple of times per day for a couple of days.
Have someone hold your puppy at the end of a hallway while you're at the other end. Call your puppy in a happy voice and encourage her to come. Give her a treat when she comes to you.
Introduce more and more distractions -- such as someone walking by, a ball rolling near her or something similar -- while having someone hold your puppy at a 20-foot distance from you. Repeat these outside with a long training leash. Always give high praise and treats when your puppy comes to you.
Repeat these training sessions a few times per day for a couple of days until she seems to have it. Repetition is pivotal in training puppies.
Remove the leash in an enclosed, fenced-in area and practice more and more every day until your pup has gotten over the distractions and comes when called. The "come" command is one of the most important, especially if you like to take your pup for long walks in new areas or she has a knack for escaping!
- If your pup has a tendency to run from you when outside, call her name happily and run the other way. Many times pups exhibiting this behavior think you're playing with them, and a game of chase or tag is just what they were after. Never punish your pup when she comes back to you; she will get the impression that bad things happen when she comes back to you.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.