What do you expect when a child runs at your dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 03:49 PM Thread Starter
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What do you expect when a child runs at your dog?

I had an interesting incident yesterday. Ryka has never disliked children unless they're overly rambunctious. Just the other week a young girl asked if she could pet her, and Ryka was so very sweet with her.

But yesterday was different. I was on a walk with my SIL and her dog and a young girl came running towards us as fast as she could without saying anything. I assumed she was running to the bench to grab something near us, but she bee-lined straight for the dogs. As she got close, she put her hand out to try and pet our dogs without asking. My SIL shouted that the dogs were not friendly (they are, but we've agreed not to let strangers pet our dogs on walks). The girl continued to try and get close. I pulled Ryka near me and tried to educate her on how to approach dogs, but she kept trying to get close. Ryka barked, warned her off, and the girl still continued to approach, so Ryka stepped up, barked more, and grabbed the front pocket of the girl's hoodie. It was a quick nip and let go - a warning nip - and she didn't grab anything other than the fabric. I gave a quick, hard correction to have her sit quietly, but it took me by complete surprise because it happened so quickly and she has never done that before. The young girl thought nothing of it, in fact she laughed. I was horrified. To put the kid's behaviour in perspective, her younger brother came running towards us shortly after and asked if he could hold our dogs' leashes as if it were a totally normal thing to do.

Is that a normal reaction given the situation? Ryka has been good with children, and often she's the confident one that's happy to be engaged with once she's done sniffing. We have young kids come to our club, and whenever they come she licks their faces or happily interacts with them. She's never behaved that way before, but recently during bite work when the helper went to run his hand over her head during the bite, she let go to try and grab his hand when he did it a third time. The two incidences happening so closely together threw me off a bit, and I'm probably over thinking it, but I don't want to risk Ryka ever biting someone if it isn't in self-defense.

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 04:11 PM
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I would guess that your emotion and reactions to the child fueled Ryka's defensiveness. Your dog may have understood that you wanted the child to stop and probably was bothered by the kid's disobedience. "Hey Kid, Mom Said NO! Stop"

My gal-dog does not like strangers forcing themselves on her, no matter the size. My big-boy is very forgiving but I won't take it for granted that he might not put the big paw of knock-it-off on a child if he gets overwhelmed. I step in front of my dogs and put a hand out and say STOP. Nothing else, just stop. From there, maybe I'll teach the child about dog manners but only if the kids is showing self-control in the first place. If they have that wild child look in their eyes I'll talk to them from a distance even if it means turning around and leaving.

One thing I often tell kids, "how would you like strangers touching you on the head all the time?"


and a question: why would the helper be patting your dog's head during a bite? I've never seen anyone do that. Maybe while holding a dumbbell calmly but not while working a sleeve. I have seen a helper simulate wrestling with a quick hug but not head petting.
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Last edited by car2ner; 05-04-2019 at 04:14 PM.
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post #3 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 04:17 PM
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+1 car2ner

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post #4 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 04:26 PM
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I would be surprised, given the situation you described, for the dog not to react that way! Who raises kids like that? Either way, I would definitely step in front of and stop any child approaching in that manner, because in the end if a bite or even a nip does happen it's always the dog's fault! But again, I don't fault the dog for the reaction, the parents of those out of control children on the other hand might benefit from some parenting classes...jeez!

I had to jump in front of a lady and her little poodle the other day because she thought it would be fun to introduce her dog to mine while my dog was in the car (it's a van and the back hatch was open). Some people just don't get that all dogs are not always friendly...
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post #5 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 04:28 PM
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Wow, stressful!

We have kids run at us fairly frequently and like car2ner, I found that the “Stop” gesture with my hand held out, has always worked up to now.

To tell you the truth, if somebody ignored the STOP gesture and kept trying to pet him, he would growl. I am beginning to realize that for my dog, there is a long way between the growl and the bite ( that is, he growls readily but has never bitten). Sadly, I don’t usually let kids pet, because they are so unpredictable! My angelic sweet niece, when she first met a cat...she suddenly in great excitement grabbed it by its face! Known, educated kids are welcome to pet...like my daughters friends.

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post #6 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by car2ner View Post
I would guess that your emotion and reactions to the child fueled Ryka's defensiveness. Your dog may have understood that you wanted the child to stop and probably was bothered by the kid's disobedience. "Hey Kid, Mom Said NO! Stop"

My gal-dog does not like strangers forcing themselves on her, no matter the size. My big-boy is very forgiving but I won't take it for granted that he might not put the big paw of knock-it-off on a child if he gets overwhelmed. I step in front of my dogs and put a hand out and say STOP. Nothing else, just stop. From there, maybe I'll teach the child about dog manners but only if the kids is showing self-control in the first place. If they have that wild child look in their eyes I'll talk to them from a distance even if it means turning around and leaving.

One thing I often tell kids, "how would you like strangers touching you on the head all the time?"


and a question: why would the helper be patting your dog's head during a bite? I've never seen anyone do that. Maybe while holding a dumbbell calmly but not while working a sleeve. I have seen a helper simulate wrestling with a quick hug but not head petting.
+1 to this. Your dog realized something was off. Totally understandable!

I hate hate hate parents who don’t teach their kids to interact with pets well. I have two cats that are scarred for life with kids because my roommate had a friend over who let their kid run at the cats making loud noises and even into my room where they were hiding when I was home. The parents are at fault and your dog was fine IMHO.
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post #7 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 07:00 PM
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If this happens you don't want to wait another second before you step in front of the dog. I have done that a few times, also with idiots who think that their dog needs to "say hi" and continue to come closer.
You see the kid or dog coming and you have to assume that they are heading for your dog so being proactive will be best. it doesn't make people happy or friendly towards you but I don't care. My job is to prevent my dog to be in the paper or in the pound to be quarantined or a kid from getting bitten. Every incident can erode the dog's stability towards kids or dogs.
I understand your dog though. She knew something was out of the ordinary. Deja doesn't like dogs that are out of control in a class either. She observes them from a distance and I can hear her thinking, "Somebody do something about him!".
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post #8 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 07:39 PM
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mmm, i’m in the minority here. i don’t know your dogs history or age, but from a presumed level headed / sound adult dog that has typically been good with children, i personally would not call that a normal reaction. in a new (unknown), young, or fearful dog i’d take the necessary steps / attempts to intervene... if those attempts weren’t productive and the dog reacted that way - i’d still be disappointed but not surprised and i’d definitely have some words with the parents.

my dogs are out with me often and there’s a chance that i could encounter a kid daily... i’m counting on my dogs to recognize that a child is not a threat. (and aside from a threat or in play -with me-, there’s no other circumstances that i’d be ok with my dogs mouth closing on any part of a person)

but hey, we do the best we can right? you’ve got some additional information about your girl now.... you’re here asking for insight... it’s all you can do at this point.
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post #9 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 07:44 PM
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what has Ryka done in the past when kids have been overly rambunctious?

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post #10 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
what has Ryka done in the past when kids have been overly rambunctious?


Whenever kids are overly rambunctious (we had a whole bunch of guests over once), as in running around screaming and jumping on furniture, she gets overly excited and barks and play bows and jumps back and forth then tries to rough house them. It unsettles the kids.

There have only been two times when Ryka has growled at children aside from this, both which I thought were acceptable. Once was in a store when a kid came running at her from behind and tried to grab her without her knowing (I was talking with a staff member and she was in a sit beside me). She didn’t bite or bark. Just stiffened and growled, then moved away. I found that to be acceptable behaviour. The second time was during Halloween when we went for a walk and a kid in a full on body costume and mask ran towards her from across the street yelling about petting her with his mom chasing after him telling him to stop. She sat and gave one bark, I told her to stop and we went on our way. To me, that’s perfectly fine.

Every other interaction has been calm and positive when the kids have approached appropriately. Face licks, belly rubs, bum scratches, the like. She’s never been mean to kids before this.

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