Here's a one for you all ( I might post it separately) 15 week wheaten puppy wags her tail and appears happy to see dogs, will want to sniff but then the min they react, want to sniff play etc she's really scared she wet herself at vets puppy party and and puppy class she did the same and went and hid, this is while the rest of the class are playing in pairs in the hall.
I make sure she sees dogs everyday and if the owners happy I let her sniff, but I try not to let her bite off more than she can chew and approach every dog we see, just in case.
She hasn't been out and about 3 weeks yet, please tell me there's a good chance her confidence will grow. The trainer let slip last night that perhaps this is how she'll be and maybe she's right and ill have to accept it but it'll make me sad to think she'll never enjoy playing with other dogs.
I think that continuing to make sure, as you wisely do, that she doesn't bite off more than she can chew is the important thing. Be wary of owners who think its "natural" for dogs to have a jolly free-for-all whenever they meet even for the first time. Lots of dogs aren't really very happy with that. But it is only if they are pushed into it (by ill-mannered dogs or their unempathetic owners) that their aloofness can become a problem
With lots of safe unchallenging encounters I'm sure her confidence will grow to the point where she she develops a sense of safety and calm around other dogs. Don't aim for her to become really devil-may-care and boisterous with other dogs. Perhaps that will never be her thing. Aim for her to feel safe.
Socialisation is very important to puppies BUT only if done correctly.
I am ready to be shot down here but I hate the idea and never ever have gone to puppy classes. However I do socialise my puppies with other grown up well behaved dogs.
Think what happens at puppy classes, either the very confident ones all bundle in together play fight (Even that name is ridiculous they are playing or fighting!) and the slightly quieter or shy puppies hide under the chair until the playing stops. Who is this helping. How often in life after puppy hood do the dogs only meet puppies.
The puppies need to learn by being taught by already calm, trained and well mannered dogs.
For your dog I would not return to puppy classes BUT I would ask at a dog school if your puppy can watch the older dogs maybe the competition class where the dogs are controlled and generally calmer.
Your puppy will then have positive interactions with dogs, learn the correct way to greet and behave around dogs and her confidence will be restored.
Also start clicker training and train your dogs to the hilt - a well trained dog usually has their brain full of tricks and behaviours and has less time to panic and feel insecure. Just ask for a trick or behaviour in a stressful situation and they will be back in their comfort zone.
There are some reports to back this up and I will google to find them
I think a lot depends on the puppy class. We did classes that were extremely well managed by an APDT trainer. It was great practice getting pup to focus on me with other dogs in the room and there was no free for all playing. At the very last session two carefully paired pups at a time were let off and we practiced retrieving them from play and releasing them again. The trainer was very alert to the different personalities and no dog was put in a situation where they would need to hide or fear wee.
I agree that she is better off not going into the situations you describe and instead meeting older calmer dogs who can show her polite greeting. For example my older dog would be great for this. My pup would be her worst nightmare. If you know or meet anyone with a calmer dog you might want to try walking alongside them at a small distance with no forced interaction.
Thank you for your replies you've given me a lot to think about, my class is like spicypear they're not let off to play altogether but Ill definitely ask trainer about visiting an adv group where the dogs are older and well behaved as its hard when you're out and about to totally get it right as what appears to be a nice friendly dog to have a sniff with in the park occasionally becomes, in milliseconds, a hyper jumping bean and is too much for mine to cope with
Easier said than done but it's also important not to inadvertently contribute by being stressed or worried yourself when a dog is approaching or a greeting is taking place. When greetings are taking place and when moving on afterwards try to keep a loose lead and walk purposefully but without dragging pup away iyswim.