I was out for a walk the other day and met a new puppy that had just come home from the humane society. It was a cute little puppy but obviously a little nervous about the world. I started thinking if this were my puppy what would I be teaching it?
Initially a new puppy needs time to acclimate. Remember the fear period for a puppy (the time they can develop serious fears) is 12-18 weeks or so (give or take a week or two). Some puppies will even go through a period where they are nervous at random things and then pop out of it just as suddenly as it started. I remember with Nitro one day he noticed a fire hydrant. He acted like it was out to get us and he had to protect me from this awful yellow thing. He pretty quickly learned that fire hydrants are pretty darn cool. All those great smells! (Yes gross I know.)
So in seeing this puppy, what would my recommendation be as a dog trainer? Get a puppy socialization check list and start going through it. I like to introduce a puppy to something new 4-5 times. Keep a check list and if they are nervous, write it down so you know you need to revisit it.
Now when you are in the moment and your puppy is not wanting to meet someone, or scared of something dont push it. Hang out, ignore the puppy and start interacting with the object or person. If the puppy moves forward, then you can praise the puppy. You can also give treats to help the puppy along. Often times dogs will overcome their nervousness on their own. Its also VERY important that nervous puppies get into a puppy socialization class. A professional trainer can help you setup your plan for your puppy.
Watch your puppies body language, lip licking, yawning, shaking off, turning around, moving away are all signs your puppy is nervous and you should move slow.