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  1. #1
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    I have a problem with my girls....they are scared of children!!! I had some friends over today and once they have been here for a while they are OK with them but today one of my friends brought her 7 year old granddaughter with her. The girls barked at her every time that she got up and when she took a biscuit off the plate they went ballistic. What should I do? They have always been fearful of children- the younger one more so than the older one. They were raised in the breeder's home but her children are teenagers so they haven't come across too many of the small human variety.
    For your advice please.
    Julie and the girls

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    I've had this same problem -- even though I worked to introduce Jaspar to lots of kids and Leo, once I got him. My problem is that I live in an urban area with inner city kids who tend to rush at the dogs and grab at them. Given that I have no yard and have to walk the dogs 3-4 times daily to do their business, it is hard to avoid small kids and hard to keep this from happening no matter how careful I try to be.

    As a result mine both don't care much for kids under about 5 and are wary of children. I do work on this with NICE kids and this has helped them!! Also I do of course ask neighbour kids to crouch down and hold a hand out to the dogs to let them sniff and get comfortable. I also often pick up the dogs who feel more comfortable greeting kids at their level and don;t mind being caressed if I hold them up.

    One way to address this is to have kids come down to dog level to meet and greet and offer some treats. Have the child crouch down facing sideways to the dog and not look the dog directly in the face, which the dog will see as a threat. Let the dog go investigate in his or her own time, The child can offer treats too, calling the dog by name.

    Children should crouch to pet the dog as well, and not aim for the head which many dogs deeply dislike and/or fear, and instead caress the chest or sides of the dog. They shouldn't shout or squeal when they see the dog. If the dog gets to associate children with treats every time they visit, the barking should stop. Also have the child play with the dog with its favourite toys. My two just love to fetch a ball so my friends' kids are only too delighted to throw a ball for them when I take my dogs to visit.

    Retraining takes time and patience and hopefully you have friends who will be happy to have their kids meet and spend time with your dogs.

    I know how you feel though, for me it can be really awkward to have Leo, this sweet little dog, growl and bark at small kids! I think it is partly that the dogs see kids that size as annoying puppies because they never really got the chance to be socialised to friendly calm small kids. Leo does the same with a friend's westie ppuppy, still under one year. He never does this with older dogs.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  3. #3
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    Great advice Karlin on having your dogs get used to small kids. I was recently watching a segment of the Dog Whisperer (Cesar Milan) on our cable channel. Cesar lives in California and has a weekly program on major problem areas of canines. Anyway, he was working with a dog that was terrified of kids - he used his own two boys to help this dog get over his fear.

    The boys started out by just walking by the dog, then sitting next to the dog, etc. before touching the dog. This dog was actually an agility participant, so he eventually had the dog jumping over agility poles with the kids laying next to the pole. He also had the boys hold snacks in their hands and just let the dog take it out of their hands(not hand it to the dog). All of this was a very slow process, but the dog did seem much better around kids.

    Maybe just sitting in a park area where there are kids to start (hard to do 'cuz they all want to pet our cute dogs). Then maybe just walk around an area (school playground) where kids are making noises. I esp. liked the fact on the show that the kids didn't approach the dog initially, just walked by/around him.

    Both my girls love little kids, but our little Lhaso doesn't like kids he doesn't know either so he's a little harder to walk in the neighborhood where all the kids want to pet him.

    Sheri Ramirez

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    Thanks for your advice. I think that part of the problem is that they hardly ever see these diminutive human beings, but I will remember what you have said. It is probably really important for the children to get down to their level and I remember reading somewhere about going side on to them and not looking them in the eye.
    Thanks again for your advice.
    Julie and the girls

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    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the article. It is good to know not to push them and to let them hide if they want to when any little visitors come.
    Thanks again
    Julie and the girls

  7. #7
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    More generally, I have been thinking about the "patting dog's heads" issue. Working in rescue I don't know how many times I have heard people assume that a dog that shies from being pet on the head or ducks or moves away MUST have been mistreated. "That dog must have been hoit all the time, it is afraid of a raised arm," is a really frequent comment.

    But read a few dog books and you realise *dogs in general do not like to be pet on the head*. They will learn to tolerate it from humans (especially their own) because they figure, OK, we trust these two-legged things and even though I don't really care for this, they seem to want to communicate with me in this way." And dogs generally like to have ears scratched, chin or neck scratched or petted, etc -- or to be pet on the back of the head rather than reached for from the front. It is that reaching out for the top of the head that many really do not like as it is a threatening behaviour to the part of the anatomy a dog is most ready to protect that makes some unhappy. I have no doubt this results in many bites from nervous dogs or those just giving a warning and not intending anything worse.

    The point (there is one! ) is that for the owner, one of the most embarrasing aspects of this kind of behaviour, including discomfort with kids, is that people assume 1) you (or kids in the family) might be mistreating the dog; 2) with a rescue or adopted dog even from a known source, it might prompt the wrong assumptions about the dog's background (and previous owner!!), which could affect training and even your relationship as you allow the 'mistreated' dog huge amounts of behavioural slack.

    It is difficult when you have done everything by the book as far as you could and yet end up with a dog not too happy about very small kids, due to circumstances somewhat beyond your control. Julie like yours, my two rarely meet kids in a pleasant environment where they can play as I only have a couple of friends with kids and my one little nephew lives a continent away. So you can only do the best you can until someone creates a rent-a-kid scheme. (maybe that's called grandparenthood or babysitting... ).
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by karlin
    More generally, I have been thinking about the "patting dog's heads" issue. Working in rescue I don't know how many times I have heard people assume that a dog that shies from being pet on the head or ducks or moves away MUST have been mistreated. "That dog must have been hoit all the time, it is afraid of a raised arm," is a really frequent comment.
    Well you know Jake has never had a day of mistreatment in his life and he DEFINITELY does not like being patted on the head. He won't even take it from me. When a child is petting the dog I show them "what happens if I pat you on the head? You look up to follow my hand, that's what the dog is doing". Instead I show them how to pat them on the chest or under the chin. This also stops the dogs from jumping up.
    Cathy
    Loving mom to Jake, Shelby and Micah

  9. #9
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    One of the first things I learned as a child was never to pet a dog . . . especiallly a strange one . . . on top of the head. Hold your hand palm up, let him sniff, and then pet or scratch him under the neck.

    I haven't had a dog in nearly 20 years, and 2 weeks ago, I got Chester, my first Cavalier. My 22 year old daughter came over to meet him, and she was trying to make friends, but Chester seemed wary. She was holding her hand out . . . so gently, just waiting . .. . But her palm was down, and she was trying to pat him on the head. I told her what I should have told her a long time ago, and finally after changing her position, Chester came around.

    I don't think it's necessarily a sign that a dog's been mistreated . . . It's just something that dogs aren't immediately comfortable with.

  10. #10
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    Agreed. I actually think it very rarely is a sign of mistreatment. Tha fact that so many dogs are OK with head-patting is more a sign of how tolerant they are of our weird primate ways!
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

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