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D2006-08

Dear Daisy Dog

Our 3-month-old German shepherd puppy barks menacingly at people he doesn’t know. His hackles are up, and he looks quite vicious. What can we do to make him behave more civilly?

Daisy Responds

Until recently, I behaved the same way. It was purely defensive: I was afraid of people I didn’t know.

Mom solved the problem – and boosted my self-confidence – by introducing me to lots of different kinds of people.

She started by enrolling me in an obedience class. She chose a small group, so I wouldn’t feel intimidated, and she made sure there were plenty of opportunities to socialize with the people and the other dogs in the group.

At first, I was frightened of everyone. But now I walk up to people in class, wag my tail and sniff their hands, hoping to be petted or offered a treat.

Mom also takes me to public places, like pet supply stores, every week. When I sit on command, she tells me I’m a good girl – which both distracts me from my fear and helps me feel more confident.

When we’re out, Mom asks dog lovers to kneel so they are less threatening when they pet me. Sometimes I see Mom slip them treats to feed me.

So my advice is to join a puppy kindergarten class that uses positive, motivational methods to socialize the pups and teach good manners.

And now, while your puppy is still young and impressionable, get him out to meet a variety of people.

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