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Old 01-25-2015, 02:06 AM
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Location: Seattle, WA
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Default Stranger danger and other fear stuff

I need some opinions and advice on how I can help Wilson overcome his fear of people.

He's always been kind of shy with everyone and not really interested in meeting anyone. He isn't aggressive but if someone approaches him you can definitely tell he isn't a fan although he doesn't always try to get away. Sometimes he just sits and gives the stink eye.

In the last couple of weeks though we've had a couple of bad incidents that have really set him back. One was a couple of older ladies appearing out of nowhere that came up behind us and started petting him, another was a small kid that kept chasing him inside a store no matter how often I told him to stop. The latter caused him to pee out of fear. Ever since then, anytime someone looks like they might approach him (like they get down on the ground and start talking to him, and especially if someone comes down from above and starts petting him) he pees.

I know in part that this is just puppy stuff and there's a reasonable chance that he'll outgrow some of this, but is there anything I can do to help him?

His trainer's advice is that nobody he doesn't know gets to touch him or talk to him for the time being. Since it appears that his trigger is people approaching him with the intent to touch him we are trying to show him that he can be near people without them necessarily interacting with him and that people in themselves aren't scary.

We are also working on hand touches. If someone really feels like they need to interact with him in the future they can offer their hand for him to touch. This way he gets to choose if he wants to interact with the person while also turning it into a game.

What I'm stumped on is how do I turn those randos that sneak up behind him and squeal and are all eeeehhh puppyyy and start touching him into a positive experience and not so scary that he pees himself? Obviously I tell them they need to back off but at that point it's already too late and the damage has been done so I would rather just make people doing that super exciting and not scary? He wears a bright red vest in public that says DO NOT PET so I don't know you'd think that might help but I guess not always.

Advice?
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