Unsocialized puppy...

Posted by ashleybaker7
Oct 21, 2010
I got out puppy around christmas time last year January 1st and she was 5 months old. It seems like she was not socialized properly prior to us getting her, and we did not realize it. She seems to have lots of anxiety and fear towards new visitors, other dogs, or people she has not seen in a while. She reacts by lunging at barking with her fur raised. (she is a boxer 1 Year old by the way) While barking and lunging at the new person or dog she also is wagging her tail. THe other dogs in our house bark at someone at the door but once the visitor enters the house they stop and she keeps trying to attack. I am having troubles with identifying what type of aggression she has. I thought it was fear but the way she acts is not a retrieving manner its a attack stance. It is very embarrassing and I really want to know how to help her out with this issue. The vet seems to be the worse place as I can never get her attention on me once she is freaking out and at the vet's office it is even worse! When I have tried to intervene on her reaction to someone new with a treat or a toy she totally ignores it, she normally would never ignore a treat! In the house she is a very sweet and loving puppy loves to cuddle and give kisses but with strangers it is a very different dog that I see. We also suspect that she was possibly abused before we got her because of how sensitive she is to any sort of body movement that would look like a kick or hit is coming for her. We have never hit, kicked, or pushed her so I know its not from something we have done to her. Sometimes when she randomly will accept a new person and stop barking at them, once they start to pet her randomly and out of no where she will jump back up and start to try to "get" them again. IN home and when nobody is around outside she listens to all my commands (sit, stay, fetch, down, shake, roll over, Play dead, high five, speak, give kisses), when in the house with our dogs or family memeber present she obeys, but only occasionally will listen when a stranger comes around.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Oct 23, 2010
Hey ashley,

If I had to guess about the type of aggression I would honestly say its fear aggression. While it does normally present as a dog who retreats and tries to get away from a situation, aggression is very dog dependent, and your boxer might just be showing her fearfulness in a different way. It could also be mixed with protective aggression, or territorial, especially if she is worse in your home when new people come over.

If your guests ignore her, what happens? In the same way, if you ignore her, does she settle down more quickly? Usually with fear aggression or fear of strangers, its best to have everyone in the room ignore the dog until she calms down. Then, let her approach the visitor, and get comfortable with them. If your guests try to approach her and pet her it will probably just freak her out even more. When she does calm down or approach your guests give her lots of praise so she knows its a good thing.

I think your best bet is just to keep exposing her to new people and dogs. In the "background" so to speak, you should always reward her calm behaviour and try to get her trained to stop barking in any situation when you tell her to. Have friends over, if they have dogs they should bring them over, and just handle it gradually. You want to aim to desensitize her to the experience, and the only way to do that is to keep exposing her to it. If you get anxious about it and avoid the situation, it will only make her worse when it does occur.

With visitors and other dogs just remain calm and speak to her in soothing voices so she knows you're happy with the situation. Keep treats on your and give her one when she reacts well. Always reward her good behaviour, and never use negative stimuli when she barks or lunges, just ignore her, or if she gets really bad, put her in a time-out area, quiet and alone, until she calms down.

Its pretty basic advice, I wish I could say more, hopefully some other members have tips for you. Good luck! I'm sure your girl will calm down with time and encouragement from you
Posted by ashleybaker7
Oct 24, 2010
Thank you for the reply. I have a question about how to handle her in these situations. When guests come to our house I keep her on the leash and hold her back from jumping on the guests. I know ignoring her is best but how do I ignore her while also trying to keep her away/off the guests. She has never bitten a guest but I dont want to take the chance keeping her off the leash. Also with her barking is it best if I speak to her and tell her to stop or if I ignore her and try to refocus her on me and my directions for her. I am going to be taking her into the vet tomorrow so any tips to help break her focus on the strangers and back onto me? I read in the book about the startle cup (pebbles in a can), does that seem to be the best device while starting to work with her on this?
Posted by KOPCaroline
Oct 27, 2010
Hey again,

Have you considered a muzzle at home when visitors come? Just to start with? That way you can lose the leash, and not worry about a nip or bite accidentally happening? It might seem off putting, but its just a safety measure, and easily removable once training has helped.

Even if you continue to use the lead with guests, you can try giving it one or two sharp tugs to get her to calm down, and if that doesn't work, remove her from the room to a quiet area. Try letting her back in the room once she's settled down a bit. Repeat if necessary

For the barking, if ignoring doesn't work, your method of telling her to stop and asking her to do a command is great! Anything to get her attention off barking and onto a task is really good, so keep that up.

You can always ask your vet about anti-anxiety medications or in home treatments, and if you decide its a good way to go, you can always wean her off them later.
Posted by Kate-Jacobz
Nov 5, 2010
Hi Ashley,

It is best to have everyone but you and your partner ignore her until she calms down. If you have her on a leash quick leash corrections are important. Also make a deep guttaral bah sound as you make the corrections (sounds like a mother dog correcting her puppy). If these two steps do not have the desired result spray her face with some water to get her attention on you.

Have her sit quietly beside you for five minutes or so. Lavish her with praise and a treat. Then allow her to approach the visitor in her own time. If she does this in a calm manner again give her a treat and lavish praise on her so that she knows she is doing the right thing.

If she jumps up on people, barks or lunges say "no" and spray her face with water to get her attention on you if necessary. Put her in the "sit" or "drop" position and reward her for obeying you.

She requires a lot of socialisation - expose her to new people, dogs and situations.

Always reward her calm behaviour.

Teach her the "quiet" and "speak" commands.

Remember if you are anxious she will pick up on that and also be anxious.

Discuss this with your family. It is important that you are all consistent with your corrections and commands.