The Case Of The Fearful Puppy

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Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
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If you have a fearful puppy, you should do one of two things: hire a professional dog trainer or get a more sociable puppy.

Here is a tragic situation. Here is a letter from a rescue volunteer about a fearful puppy that was mistreated by its family. The puppy is also, most likely, a dog that was born fearful. This is a good example of what can go wrong when you put the wrong pup in the hands of foolish people. This is the making of a disaster. Eventually, this dog is going to grow up and fear bite someone, most likely a child. Unfortunately, the people giving these people advice don’t know what they are doing. They don’t understand behavior. The solution? First try behavior modification with someone who knows what they are doing. If this fails, then the pup should be put down, and the family shouldn’t get another dog. My comments are in the asterisks ****

I had a call from someone who has a 6mo old fearful puppy that had been placed in a home they THOUGHT was ideal. She requires in her contract that the pup have puppy classes and obedience.. well, as we all know — some owners seem to forget to read or do not listen to what we give as advice..

**Pups should be adopted at 8 weeks of age. Breeders dogs, that have been kept kenneled for too long often become permanently fearful of people and new situations. I do think that it is a good thing for the breeder to require training, but my guess is that the breeder knew something was wrong with this pup.**

anyway, they have children who obviously gave the pup a hard time and they did not stop the pup from giving often as good as he got. We also think they did nothing to correct this behavior nor train this pup in any way.

**Children shouldn’t be allowed to abuse a dog, especially a puppy. What kind of parent allows a puppy to be abused? Something is seriously wrong with these people. The pup didn’t need the correcting here — the kids and parents needed correcting. What breeder, in their right minds, doesn’t screen the buyers better than this?**

They called her saying the pup would not listen and had started snapping at the kids (though he has NEVER made any real effort at contact). She took this boy back and was trying to see if he had any triggers.. he had none that she could see.. and she tried them all — taking his food and toys etc. but he was doing well though he was very nervous and insecure around the kids

**Untrained dogs won’t listen to commands BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SAYING! Also, if a puppy starts snapping at the kids, correcting the dog won’t solve the problem. The dog is afraid. Correcting the dog won’t make it less afraid. Pups that are very nervous and insecure and growling at the kids in the home might need to be put down. It is an abnormal situation. I’d want to meet the owners and dog for an evaluation. Sometimes what you hear people saying isn’t what is really going on. Maybe this dog isn’t so fearful after all, just protecting itself from being hassled by the kids. This might be a situation that can be turned around.**

now the problem — the other night he was asleep on the couch and her daughter ran up and jumped up on the couch next to him, he turned and snapped; no connecting again, BUT.. her husband saw it and grabbed for the pup; he then bit her hubby when he made contact;when he did this her two grown bitches came crashing through the gate to protect dad and trying to get this offending pup. It turned into a real brawl now. When the dust settled he was bitten a few times by all the dogs (since he was in the middle of it) and the pup is a mess. He won’t eat, drink or come to anyone. He will cower and run to a corner to hide and ONLY let her come near (she was out when all this happened). If she leaves the room he is in he cries and claws the door till she returns. She hasn’t left him for two days.

**This was an impossible situation for all the animals and the people. The dog was asleep, the dog is fearful and nervous with the kids, yet the kid is allowed to come up and scare the dog to the point that it snaps to defend itself. The husband was WRONG to correct the pup. Why wasn’t the kid corrected here? The pup was so scared by the husband, that it then bit him. Also, something is seriously wrong here when the rest of the dogs come in and attack a 6 month old puppy. Now, the pup has been severely traumatized, and is now showing signs that it might have a hard time recovering from this horrible situation. The pup can’t cope, and the people are abusing the pup.**

Now our thoughts: We do not think this an aggressive  pup who needs to be put down. We do not have any idea who what or how he was treated at his first home but think it was all wrong. We think this is more of a fear problem since he made no attempt to contact but rather to warn you off. This incident has left this poor baby a mess and we (her from me and me from you all) are looking for what to do about this. We do not want to do something wrong and make him worse.’

**Regardless of what happened in the previous home, this pup has been severely traumatized, either by poor breeding, or neglect, or abuse. But the bottom line is that this is a fearful dog that can’t be a satisfactory pet anymore IN THIS HOME.**

I know many of you have worked with rescue and have seen and dealt with the horrors that can result from a bad home. She is heartbroken over this boy and he is basically very sweet. She is also afraid if it goes on he will be a danger to someone. We want to help him while he is still young and not beyond help. I feel that, because he was asleep and startled.. he was simply reacting; had her hubby just yelled and not touched him I think it would have passed uneventful. She has said that he now has an empty look in his eyes instead of the soft puppy look he had before. He is totally distrustful and afraid to do anything even eat or go out.. she has to practically drag him through the house to go.

**The pup has been severely traumatized. Unfortunately, these types of dogs often need to be put down. I don’t like to have to recommend this kind of thing, but that might be the right thing here. I just don’t know because I haven’t met the dog or the people. Will this pup be a danger to others for the rest of its life? Is this home a living a nightmare? I have, however, seen marked improvements with some pups when the owners do what I recommend, but even I can’t save all dogs.**

What can we do to help this baby? He is beautiful and I think wants to be loved. It would be such a waste for him to be lost. Before he was HOMED and I use the term very lightly, he was a very friendly out going pup; he got along with the other dogs, loved her kids and the whole family.. he was NORMAL. Can he ever be that again??? 

**No, this pup might never be normal. It’s going to take a lot of patience to resocialize this pup, and to change what is going on.**

We need advice most urgently.. she is going to call me again tonight; I told her not to GIVE UP on him yet. Will check back here often today. Please, any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

**My advice? 1.) The breeder needs to evaluate his/her breeding stock and not breed a fearful puppy; 2.) The breeder needs to sell pups at 8 weeks of age; 3.) The breeder needs to develop a better screening process for buyers; 4.) Not all people are good with dogs; 5.) Not all people raise their kids properly, and they shouldn’t ever get a dog; 6.) Everyone here needs the help of a good trainer/ behaviorist. This pup is going to grow up to be a walking lawsuit unless something is done immediately. 7.) Get this fearful puppy out of this home, and let’s set up a resocialization and training plan. That is this pup’s best chance.**