Issues with small kids HELP - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Issues with small kids HELP

Hello all,

This is my first time to post on this site though i have used it as a great reference too to help train my dog since a pup, so thank all yall that have posted in the past, but to my issue...

My GSHD Alexandria is 2.7~ years old, shes a smart little booger and very well behaved (99%) she is very well with friends, family, other dogs and even strangers. We go to the dog park 1-2 times a week since she was 6 months so new people and new dogs have never been an issue. If anything she is more of a wimpy dog that backs off from aggression then what you would think of a typical GSHD. But as of today this is the 4th time it has happened. I have her in the back yard of my new house and she aggressively ran up to the fence line and the little boy (5yrs old) and barked very aggressively to the point that he ran screaming for his life. This has happened 3 other times that i have seen. once at a boy (5yrs old) at the dog park that was walking up to pet her, once at our neighbors boy in his front yard and once at an event by the lake where a boy ran towards her and shocked her ( this one i understand). But the first 3 worry me. each time she runs up to them standing about 3 feet away and barks very aggressively. Never has she attacked them or even made contact with them. but none the less she is only 1 step from this happening. The other weird thing is every time it has been a boy and never a girl and always a boy less then 7-8 years old and usually around 4-5 years. For her this behavior is very very very unusual, to the point i cant understand why it happens cause she is so sweet. people have said maybe a past even scared her but i have owned her since 8 weeks and her original owners had no kids. and she is 80% of the time inside right beside me so i don't think there is much chance of exposure to such event.
Any insight to why this behavior may happen or and help with the best way to discipline this action is much appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

Jon Hopkins
and my sidekick Alex
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 08:23 PM
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Kids that age often move and act funny, not to mention they are exactly at eye level and often stare at dogs. Raven had a similar issue when she was young but with girls, fortunately her choice was to run and I was able to fix it in a day by having VERY good things happen when young girls were around. She now thinks they rule the world.

Counter conditioning something like this is tough because it should be done in a very controlled setting and you won't get many parents willing to let their kid help out, especially with the way she responds.

Be very vigilant with her around kids, meaning always under your physical control. Encourage her to be curious from a distance (Look At That) and lots of GREAT things when she is calm around them. The help of a trainer would be very beneficial.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 08:33 PM
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had the same prob

have 3 small nieces and nephews. romeo saw them as puppys to play with and would try to jump and tackle the children I convinced the 8 year old to run jump and basically taunt romeo to teach romeo not to engage with them while they are playing (while he was in my control) anytime he lunged towards I would correct ( with the pinch or choke) when he did nothing he got steak pieces and belly rubs. worked pretty well. id say try something similar and then after the dog is more confortable with a child walking by move on to having kids give him/her treats
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Great, thanks for your input.

Its really weird, like i said we are around small kids all the time (over 100) and this has only happened a few of them, and it seems for no reason (that i understand) and its always about 6 months a part at minimum.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 03:15 PM
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I wonder if a study on childhood develop might lend some clues: This is from Erickson:

Initiative vs. Guilt (3 - 5 years)

These are particularly lively, rapid-developing years in a child’s life. According to Bee (1992) it is a “time of vigor of action and of behaviors that the parents may see as aggressive”. The child takes initiatives which the parents will often try to stop in order to protect the child. The child will often overstep the mark in his forcefulness and the danger is that the parents will tend to punish the child and restrict his initiatives too much.

Who knows what our dogs are capable of perceiving. Maybe the dogs see some of their actions as aggressive, who knows. I've seen small children 4-5 years old that are physically able of doing some accomplished things, like ride a bicycle, however I don't think their brain has caught up in the good judgement area. We've seen this with our dog, Molly. Twice now she's been hit and nearly hit by a toddler on a bicycle. My dog sees a small kid with a helmet and she wants to get away. This age is very unpredictable.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 03:29 PM
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I always thought this, growing up, that when our childhood pet encountered kids, and the brattier the kids, the more she did this, she would snap at them almost immediately. She wouldn't even give them a chance to screw up!

I know dogs who seem to feel all puppies need a "smack down", too, and they'll view kids the same way. "Those dang kids are too uppity and need to be knocked down a peg or two!" seems to be their mentality!

Although I figured my dogs would maul my grandchild and even the one that I figured would be worst, tolerated my granddaughter covering her up with a blanket and all sorts of other indignities. Aurora was raised around dogs, though, so was good, overall, with them, too. I think that counts for a lot.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by gsdraven View Post

Be very vigilant with her around kids, meaning always under your physical control. Encourage her to be curious from a distance (Look At That) and lots of GREAT things when she is calm around them. The help of a trainer would be very beneficial.

I would tend not to focus on the kids and look at the dog. A child just standing at a fence or in his front yard doesn't sound like they are being particularly ratty or doing anything to upset her.
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