New Puppy So Timid--lots Of Questions!


New Member

I have a 12 week old male cockapoo, Sammy.

He's been with us for three days now. Before us, he stayed with his siblings in a puppy pen in his mommy's owners kitchen.
He didn't get outside at all and didn't get much contact with people.

He's very submissive with me, he's become very attached to JUST me, he's terrified of the whole outdoor world and of many things indoors, especially after dark.

He cowers and slinks away when my boyfriend comes home from work and runs to me to hide and protect him.

Luckily, he's still wonderful with my (also) very timid and shy 3 year old daughter who has special needs.

Sammy gets much more afraid at night...We live near railroad tracks and he comes to me when he hears a train go by, when there are kind outside on their skateboards, when I drop something in the kitchen, when he hears any unusual or loud noise outside or in another room.
He cowers, comes to me and wants me to pick him up (I don't).

For example, last night, we were playing in the living room with his rubber duck. I tossed his duck and it fell against one of my daughter's electronic toys, which made a low car honking sound.
Sammy got so scared! He actually "ruffed" at it (I'd never even heard him bark before this!), a low, in his throat type of bark. He paced around it for a bit, then went to sniff it, stecthing his neck and nose way out, then backing off again.
I finally removed the toy, which was probably the wrong thing to do?

When I take him for walks around our neighborhood, Sammy tries to weave in front of me, over and over to get away from the cars that drive by, smells that he doesn't like, etc.
He also tries to stop and stare at the cars that pass by but continues to follow if I keep walking.

When people pass by, he stops again and tries to hide behind me. If they stop and try to pet or reach out to him, he pulls away and again, hides behind me.

When I'm walking him and he starts to cower or tries to stop, I pretty much ignore his behavior and just keep walking. I don't pull or tug...He's really good at staying with me.
I don't let him weave in front of me when he tries...I keep him tight to my right side.
I do let him stop and sniff around as he likes.

When he doesn't cower or stop when cars drive by, I say in a happy tone, "Good boy" and keep walking.

I walk him twice a day to try to socialize him, we have his first vet and grooming appointments next week and I plan to take a puppy class as soon as he's vaccinated enough.

Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? Should I look into clicker training, which I know basically NOTHING about? (I'm worried he'll be afraid of even the clicking sound!) Will time fix this?

Thank you!


Well-Known Member
Okay, I'm going to deal with one problem at a time

Number 1: Sammy is scared of loud noises
Solution: You need to identify the noises that scare him - trains,children,things being dropped. I don't know if you can buy these online but if you just record the sounds yourself - of a train,kids and dropping stuff. Then every day you should play the CD so Sammy can hear it, if he's upset turn the volume down, reward him with treats if he's calm, ignore him and turn the volume down a little if he's not. Start with short 5 minute sessions and gradually build it up until Sammy doesn't react to the noises at all - problem solved:)

Number 2: Running away from boyfriend
Solution: Get your boyfriend to ignore Sammy and drop treats for Sammy until he's calm. Repeat until Sammy isn't scared when he comes into the room - even then give one treat for a few days - then encourage your boyfriend to occasionly drop a treat when he comes in so that Sammy continues to see him as a rewarding person to be around - problem solved;)

Number 3: Sammy doesn't like people
Solution: Invite some friends round and explain that you need there help for a few minutes before you cghat or whatever. Get them to do the same as in solution two - drop some treats until Sammy is calm, leave the room, next person in drops some treats until Sammy is calm leaves the room, first persaon in again etc. Only allow one person in at a time, let each person in twice, have no more than three people visiting. When Sammy becomes more and more comfortable let several people into the room together (three at the same time), again drop treats and leave. Once he's happy with that and is happy with people coming in let someone bend down and stroke his back (not his head - makes dogs feel vunerable), let them give him lots of treats and speak calmly to him. Keep this up until he is happy with being stroked anywhere on his body including the head. Change the location of this exersise - different rooms, outside, by the road, garden etc Also change the people - try to vary them. When outside ask some people for their help with stroking - most are more than happy to help - get him used to toddlers,children,adults,older people, people with hats, helmets, glasses, walking sticks etc (as many different people as possible - for children you could ask some of your daughters friends parents and her friends if they would help). I've given you a link to a useful site at the bottom. Another tip, if you could put some treats in a box outside your door and when the postman comes ask him to post a few treats with the letter, Sammy will learn to love the postman instead of barking/chasing - postmen are usually happy to oblige especially if you explain why (to stop dog barking/chasing them) Problem solved :D

Number 4: Sammy doesn't like cars
Solution: Learn how to make your dog happy. In your house kneel down with Sammy and get really excited, talk to him in a very excited way, smile, sing do whatever works until his tail starts wagging, give him treats, play with a toy - whatever works. Before you take him out make sure you used the first solution so he's not scared of the noise. Then take him out to the side of a road where not too many people walk and one that is quite quiet, kneel down and get excited make him really happy to be there and reward him for focusing on you and not reacting to the cars, ignore him if he gets scared. Stay there until three cars pass (no more than 7 minutes). Once he can stand with you normally near this road move on to a busier road and start again (it should be easier this time). Do this at least every day - if you can fit in two sessions even better - remember to reward him with praise when you're standing normally if he's being good - and be confident he can sense it if you're nervos - problem solved:p

Number 5: Sammy doesn't like being touched
Solution: I kind of started this in number 3 but I'll go into more detail. Get Sammy happy with you touching him, start by finding out where he is happy with being touched, when you find an area that he isn't happy with. Don't be bossy but be persistant, keep the sessions short (5 minutes at first, longer later) keep going over what he doesn't like, for example stroking his leg, repeat it slower and talk to him quietly - if he's good give him a treat, if not ignore it and repeat. Make sure you do each of his legs,paws,stomach,tail,head and back. Then get other people to do the same thing once he's happy with you doing it. Problem solved:ROFLMAO:

Number 6: Weaving when walking
Solution: Do what you're doing - don't let him weave but keep talking to him and tell him 'good boy' if he's doing well. This should be less of a problem as he discovers that people are great friends and cars aren't scary at all. Problem solved:)

Number 7: Other dogs
Solution: you haven't mentioned anything about other dogs but I thought I'd put this in anyway. If you have any friends with vaccinated, friendly dogs I strongly suggest you meet them and let your puppy meet the dog, a friendly older dog will show your puppy the appropriate way to behave without scaring him too much or hurting him. The sooner you get into a class and the more dogs you meet the better but until vaccinations are complete your friends dogs are the only way to go. After he has his vaccinations try to meet as many friendly dogs as possible. Problem solved :p

Number 8: Classes/clicker training
Solution: enroll him in a class as soon as possible as he will meet other dogs and you can get more advice on different issues. As for training it really is up to you, I believe you should start as soon as you have a puppy but keep the sessions short so neither of you gets bored and always end on a high note.
As for clicker training start by clicking and immediately giving a treat until your dog associates the click with something positive a treat, now you can move on to clicker training. At 12 weeks old you should be doing some training and should be getting into a class soon. Problem solved;)

Useful sites This one is about clicker training in house training/crate training Great one about socialising Good one about socialising with other dogs

Hope some of this made sense, if you have any more questions don't hesitate to ask and I'll try my best to answer(y)


Well-Known Member
I just thought I'd add a few more general links that you might be intrested in (general dog care nothing behaviour specific). Types of puppy toys Dog food overview Rated dog foods - both kibble and wet

Don't feel you have to read any of the links but they may be a useful reference for you as Sammy grows up or to look into when you feel like it

I forgot to say, enjoy your new doggie - you're going to have a ton of fun with him:ROFLMAO:


New Member
Wow, Jukes! Thank you so much! These tips are going to help a ton!

I'll also start at the beginning--

1) I'm sure I can find all of these things on You Tube and just play them randomly in the background. GREAT idea!

2) The treats worked like a charm when he got home last night. It only took Sam about ten minutes to warm up to my boyfriend and lay with his head on my boyfriends foot. I'll keep him doing that exactly like you said!

3) This will be a problem, unfortunately. I don't have very many local friends or family and we only have people over on special occasions. I did't even think about what Sammy will be like when people come over! :(
I'll do my best to get at least my brother and my mother, who are the closest in distance to me, to come over as often as possible and give the treats to drop and I'll start handing treats to the people who want to stop an talk to him on the street too.

4) I'm taking Sammy for a walk in just a few minutes and I'm going to try the excited thing! He did wonderfully on our second walk yesterday. I treated him every time he walked past a car without stopping and when he tried to stop, I just said a happy "Come, Sam" and he usually kept walking with me and then I treated him.

5) Sam is great when I touch him. That was one of the things I did before I even brought him home. I made sure to touch him pretty much everywhere to be sure he'd let me and he did. I'm going to see if he lets my boyfriend do the same tonight after Sammy gets comfortable with him again and if he does, we'll move on to other people who've given him treats and he's comfy with. :)

6) Awesome!

7) I have no friends with dogs at all. Hopefully the puppy classes and other training classes I plan to take with him will help with that!

8) I think I'm going to get a clicker tonight and get started. He's a smart, smart guy. He picks things up so fast and I know he'll thrive if I can just bring him out of his shell!

And now I have a few more questions--

I mentioned it a bit above, but Sam's fear of the dark seems to be getting worse.
Most noises I mentioned above, he's just fine with during the day...The train going by, the kids outside, me dropping things, etc.

But at night, every little sound or movement makes him jump and hide.

Last night he tried to stay hidden under my desk because he was terrified of my reflection in the picture window in my living room.
Every time I'd walk by the window (which is often), he'd see that reflection and bolt under the desk.
It took me forever to figure out what was scaring him!

I was able to coax him out with treats and we played with his toys in a spot where he couldn't see the reflection, but I can't stay away from the window all night. :(

And that's just one example!

If he hears my boyfriend rustling around in the bedroom after he goes to bed, Sammy jumps and stares in that direction.
If he hears my daughter cough through the baby monitor, he jumps and stares at it.

SOMETIMES...Not often, but sometimes he'll actually go and investigate and sniff at the monitor or sniff down the hallways and into the bedroom, and if I walk to the bedroom he always follows me (I joke I should have named him shadow because he follows me everywhere, sometimes to the point of tripping me!) and he has no problem with that.

But nights are the worst because he's jumpy and scared and then I get anxious (I try so hard to stay calm...I really do, but it's so hard when he scared and I don't know how to make it better for him :( ) and we just go in a big circle.
He's scared so I get anxious which he feels which makes him more scared. :confused:

HOW do I cure him of his fear of the dark?

And lastly (finally, right? Yeah, I tend to write novels), about clicker training--

I haven't had a chance to read your links. I"ll do so as soon as I post this message, but when clicker training, can I click at more than one thing?

What I mean is, if I'm teaching him to sit with the clicker, can I also click when he doesn't balk at cars, when he sniffs at my boyfriend, when he goes into his crate and when he goes to the door when he has to pee too?

Do I click at every good thing he does all the time, or is it just one thing at a time?

Thank you SO much!!


Well-Known Member
I'll get back to you on the night thing in a minute when I've thought about it

As for clicker training - the click will be associated with a good thing (a treat) - and Sammy will try to do that thing again for another treat. So you can use it for as many things you want - the click basically means 'well done, that's what I wanted you to do'. You can use it for as many things as you like;)


Well-Known Member
Okay - I've never heard of a dog who is scared of the dark before - I guess there's a first time for everything :).

Now I'm not an expert but I would suggest taking Sammy to your vet to check his eyesight - he might have poor vision - so at night he can't see very well and gets really scared. (I suggest getting this checked out but don't panic - I don't know for sure).

If the vet says that his sight is fine then I would suggest that he feels quite insecure. How long have you had him for? Has he had enough time to settle? Could you bring his crate upstairs into your bedroom and drape a blanket over the top of it so it's like a den, this could help him feel safe. If he continues to freak out you could close the crate door, ignore him if he barks but immediately reward him when he's quiet - as soon as there's a pause in the barking click and treat. This will teach him that at night in his crate there is nothing to be scared of and that he should be quiet. If he is quiet remember to praise him - speak softly and calmly.

Also before it's bed-time play a game with him and perhaps get him to do some tricks - really make him tired - bring him outside for one final toilet stop before putting him in his crate. That way he'll be nice and tired and won't need the loo so he should settle easily. If in the middle of the night Sammy starts to make a big fuss he might need the loo and be trying to tell you that. Without looking at him or talking take him outside and wait for him to do his business - if he does praise him and give him a treat for doing the right thing. Bring him back to bed again until you're ready to wake up.


New Member
We have a vet check next week. I'll make sure to mention his eyesight.

When Sammy is in his crate, he's fine. Since day 1 when I introduced him to it, he's been wonderful with it.

He's not afraid when he's in his's when he's awake and wants to play or sit with me. That's when the noises and movement scares him.

He's crated at bedtime...I always play him out and make sure he pees one last time before bed, then I set my alarm for 3 hours later, get up and take him out before I put him back in the crate and go back to bed.

Should I crate him when he's scared, then? If he starts getting jumpy, should I put him in his crate to make him feel more secure?
He'd be in his crate for over 12 hours then, on and off, with breaks to potty. Isn't that a very long time?

Also, the crate is in the living room. I keep a light on for him and, yes, even the TV is left on so he's not so lonely.
The reason he's not in my bedroom with me is because I don't have air conditioning in there and it's SO hot. I'm not sure he'd tolerate that very well. :(

We've only had him for 5 days, but he seems very settled. He's a happy, playful guy that loves cuddles and has really latched on to me specifically.
He's wonderful during the day. It's just at night that he seems to change into a completely different pup!


Well-Known Member
Sorry I'm a bit confused - how long is it dark for before your puppy goes to sleep?
I thought you ment it was dark and you were trying to sleep and he was freaking out - whoops - sorry


Active Member
Hauru is a timid dog and he too was scared of the dark as a puppy. I walked around our yard at night with him in and talked or sang to myself so that I could re-assure him a bit without coddling him and so he wouldn't concentrate on the scary strange sounds too much. Loons singing by the lake was something that especially freaked him out (now he just wants to know where the bird is and can he hunt it :rolleyes:). It worked somewhat, he's no longer afraid of being outside at night or in familiar places but he is little hesitant to go into strange places if they are dark. And he's eyes have been checked and there's nothing wrong with he's sight, by the way. Not a bad idea to get them checked though.


Well-Known Member
Dodge used to be a bit wary when it was dark when he was younger,winter evenings getting dark early and the last walk at night was pitch blach apart from the street lights,I think it was because everything went quiet and like us they have to rely more on other senses than just sight,everything seems to be just that tad more louder (even a whisper:LOL:) and everything has to be sussed out with instinct and he will have to just learn with time that the dark is ok,try to stay calm and not let on that you are expecting him to be scared (hard,I know), Dodge used to growl,hackles up and bark just looking out of the window when it was dark,it could ve been just a leave blowing along,I pretty much ignored it and tried to get him to play,if he didnt want to play I let him carry on watching what ever was "out there" and tried again after a few minutes when he calmed down :barefoot:


New Member
Well, it gets dark around 9pm here and I usually put him in his crate around midnight, and as the days get shorter, the nights will get longer! :(

Hopefully he'll grow out of it like ambara's and dodge say!