My puppy can't stand other people and other dogs outside.
by Tonje Bjerkum
Hey, I have a 10 week old Shih Tzu puppy. She has bonded well with me and my family, including the house cat. But when she is outside to go for walks, or to go pee-pee, if another dog or person comes by she freaks out. She starts crying, barking and it seems like she's in pain.
I don't know what to do. I'm confused by the whole matter. I know i should socialize her but i don't know where to start, under the circumstances Please help.
Your pup is showing a fairly normal, though a bit extreme, fear reaction to new people, places and dogs. Many pups are this way, especially if they've not been 'out and about' much.
You're absolutely right that you need to socialize her, and given her behavior, this is even more important now. However, you will need to start slowly, and move forward in small steps, trying not to stress her out too much.
Obviously she is very anxious, so start with a small step every day, and don't move onto the next one until she's doing okay with the first step. For example, you can take her to the park and sit on a bench with her on your lap (she'll feel safe there), let her look around and watch what is going on but don't force her to interact with others. If people approach to pet her and she get's frantic, just explain that she's very shy and you're working on it. People will understand. Take a lot of treats with you and reward her when she's calm and not barking, whining etc.
Once she's done this for a few days (or a week, or however long it takes her to feel okay with it), try letting people who want to pet her give her a treat instead. When she accepts it without fussing and crying etc., you give her another one as a 'bonus'! Again, let her do this for as long as it takes for her to be comfortable with it. Then try moving on to having her sit on the bench ground by your feet, and go through the whole thing again. Once she's okay with that, move to another location with different scenery, people, noises and so on and start again.
With socialization it's all down to the repetition and consistency, the more people and places and dogs that she meets (in a positive way), the less scared she will become. Don't feel that you need to rush things but do make sure that you move forward, even if it's a tiny bit at a time. Socialization should last her whole life so there's plenty of time :o)
I'd recommend that you read my pages on socialization, starting with my Socialize Your Puppy page. It has lots of tips and advice and links to other pages and articles that will help you.
Hope this helps, best of luck with your pup.