Originally Posted by Elifaelyn
Oh I give him a snack just for trying most times too... Beau seems to be terrified of almost anyone who's adult size, but when it comes to kids he just wants to play... I'm hoping as he gets bigger he'll be less afraid of adults.
If he is terrified of adults, he needs to gain confidence by slowing being introduced to the things that people do. Direct eye contact is a social pressure. Leaning over and reaching toward a dog is a social pressure. We think they are welcoming gestures and use them to show affection, but dogs don't see it that way.
When greeting adults, ask that they don't give him direct eye contact, don't speak to him, and don't reach out to him. This can be hard for people to do so you'll need to remind them alot. Let Beau sniff their leg if he wants and then call him back a few steps and reward him highly with praise and some great food treat.
If he is more interested and wants to investigate more, have the person squat down (not lean over him) with the side of their body facing Beau and let him come in for another sniff. Again, call him back a few steps and reward him highly. Through all this, the person isn't looking at him, speaking to him, or touching him.
If you feel that he is getting more comfortable with them, you can let Beau approach again and let the person touch him on the chest (not the top of the head) or speak lightly to him. Only allow it to last a couple of seconds before you call Beau back a few steps to reward him highly. You don't want the interaction to last too long and have him get overwhelmed, so make sure you give him an opportunity to end the interaction if he wants.
Once he's regularly getting to the point where he will comfortably go in to most adults for brief contact in the above manner, then you can slowly start having the greetings resemble a more typical greeting--face to face, person upright, speaking directly to dog, outstretched hand to head, etc.
If you have practiced a nice nose-to-hand target, you can start cueing Beau to nose target or "touch" other people's outstretched hand at this point too. Very often the predictability of performing a highly rewarded known behavior gives the dog great confidence in what is otherwise an unpredictable interaction.
The goal of all of this is to build Beau's confidence and comfort around new people. Don't move too fast. If he doesn't want to sniff them or greet them, then don't. It is no good if he is enduring or merely tolerating the interactions--he needs to learn new people are actually fun and to truely enjoy the interactions with them.