You have a large, formidable dog, and she won't get a pass if she makes even a reasonable mistake. Therefore, you have to protect your dog. So you need to be on the lookout for children. No, you cannot expect parents to teach their children proper doggie etiquette. In some places if your dog bites a child, anyone really, severely, the court can choose to put your dog down. And even if you can convince the court not to put the dog down, the dog can be labeled dangerous, and you will have to jump through hoops, like keeping an liability policy on the dog, a six-foot kennel, and a muzzle when the dog is off the property.
So it can be a big deal. And even if you are able to keep your dog, you might find that impossible when your home-owner's insurance drops you and you cannot get another policy without getting rid of the dog. If you have a loan on your house, you might not be able to keep your dog. So, it's a big deal.
If we try to hold the dog back with the leash, that can increase the tension of the situation and make the dog more likely to bite. When you see children running toward you, put your dog on a SIT STAY, and step in front of your dog. Practice SIT and STAY and DOWN and STAY regularly.
When in front of your dog, tell the child to STOP. Do not raise your voice or act frantically or your dog's tension will increase. Instead use a low commanding voice. Kids like dogs are more likely to listen to controlled, low, stern no-nonsense command of a voice than a loud voice or a high voice, a voice filled with anxiety, or a shriek or a questioning voice. Practice if you must. Use a voice that expects obedience.
If a child runs up to you with dogs, or tries to pet your dog without asking first, say no. It is good to use it as a teaching moment. Have it handy in your brain a short, simple phrase or sentence that explains what they should not have done. Kid running up CAN I PET YOUR DOG. You have the dog seated, standing in front of the dog, "STOP, No. You should never run up to a dog you do not know." Kid comes up and tries to pet the dog with out asking. The dog is seated behind you, "STOP, You need to ask the owner if you want to pet the dog." Do not allow it.
If a child approaches without running and asks if they may pet your dog, The dog is seated by your side. You have to make a decision. If the child has a bicycle, or is with a bunch of kids, or even if your pup has had enough encounters today, you can say something like, "I'm sorry, he is in training and he's had too much excitement already today." If you are ok with it, then you can tell the child to offer their hand showing them how, tell them to let the dog come to them and to scratch the dog under the chin. I often tell my dogs to "SAY HELLO." Some dogs want to be petted, others are happy to get a whiff and a little scratch under the chin and that's enough. I bring it to a close by saying, "Thank you for helping me socialize him properly."
Don't worry about irritating parents. It is your dog, and while we want our dogs bomb-proof around children, we also want to give them the opportunity to become bomb-proof around children, and that means setting the dog up to succeed. That could mean ensuring the socialization experiences are positive.
Heidi Ho, Odie
Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.