Puppy Kindergarten

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Joined: 2014-05-14

Hi everyone,

We just enrolled our 5 month old Doberman Bentley into puppy kindergarten, and he had his first class last night. At the beginning of the class the puppies have a 20 minute socialization period  in which the puppies are supposed to play with eachother. Every other puppy there was having a blast playing and chasing eachother. Bentley on the other hand instantly got overwhelmed and hid behind our chairs, and wouldn't come out. He also started to growl which is something he's never done before. He's had plenty of socialization with other dogs at the dog park, at petstores, and with our family friends. It will often take him a while to warm up to new people and dogs.Is this shyness typical of their breed? What are some things that we can do to make him less nervous in new situations? Thanks for the help :)

DJ's Dad's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-04

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More than likely, the growl was a nervous feeling coming out of him....feeling a little overwhelmed by being in unfamiliar surroundings with lots of other people around and lots of puppies playing and chasing each other around him.  Dobermans are a sensitive breed, and take in the situation around them much more so than your average spaniel or terrier puppy.

The main thing you should NOT do is pet him, hold him, tell him 'it's ok, baby' while he's feeling nervous about being around running chasing puppies or anything else that emits a degree of fear or uncertainty to him....you'd only be encouraging him to be fearful and growl as a response.  I would probably grab a toy or something to distract him immediately and start playing with him, engaging him to be active and have fun. Dont force him out from behind the chair...coax him with a toy and let it be HIS idea to play. THAT's when you praise him, pet him, tell him what a good boy he is.

If this was only your first night, his reaction was not uncommon.  He will get used to the others and as long as you encourage him to play, even if it's just with you, instead of hiding and growling, he will most likely lose that fear and start to enjoy social time with the others. 

Good luck in puppy kindergarten.  Be sure to 'do your  homework' and work with him on whatever the weekly task is.  You'll be surprised how quickly dobermans learn and want to learn more.  He will be the star student before the end of the classes, wait and see. 

Joined: 2014-05-14

Thanks for the advice! We will definately try bringing a toy to his next class! That is a great idea :) 

SabrinaG's picture
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Joined: 2014-05-07

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Draco started his puppy class at two months old and did the same thing. In fact, he was four months old before he realized I took him to the dog park to play with the other dogs, not the people. He still sticks pretty close to me at the park, probably within about 30 feet or so, but he is gradually getting braver.

Joined: 2014-05-14

Awe! I wish we could have started when he was younger.. It usually takes him awhile to warm up to people and other animals.. He's definately going to be a momma's boy!

Katopup's picture
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Joined: 2014-05-03

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Our Kato did the exact same thing lol. Mind you here past 4 months there is no puppy classes it goes into obedience at that age so Kato just graduated puppy kindergarten and is a few days shy of 4mos and they separated puppy play days from class days so they would have a whole hour of play.

Kato would hide from any dog that was very high energy the first 2wks but eventually was right in there playing and running around happily with all of them.

So yes this is very normal but I wouldn't say breed specific because Kato wasn't the only timid one in the class at first.

Make sure to practice practice all the steps as said in a previous comment it will amaze you how quickly just a look after a command will have your pup offering a variance of behaviours for you, it's pretty comical.

Good luck and don't worry too much it's all is pretty normal behaviour when in new surroundings. (: