Oh Stark... advice needed! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Oh Stark... advice needed!

So, I just took Stark out to potty.

We live on the 18th floor of an apartment building. We encounter many dogs, people, children, disabled individuals, elderly people, etc., on a daily basis.

Stark is great with all of them, usually just watches from a sit/down stay while waiting for the elevator... until today.

While waiting for the elevator to bring us back up to our apartment, a family with one child got off the elevator. The little girl was probably around 3-4 years old.

The little girl got off the elevator and immediately screamed at Stark. She was afraid.

I had Stark about 10 feet away from the doors to ensure people could get off without running into us.

Stark stood there and looked at her. The Dad came over and let Stark smell him, and told the little girl, "see, it's okay. Nice dog". I then tried to move passed them on to the elevator.

The little girl SCREAMED again and RAN to her mother on the otherside of the hallway.

Stark barked and made a play bounce at her. Terrified the little girl.

Of course by this point two other people came around the corner and saw Stark barking at this little girl.

I felt like a HORRIBLE dog owner. Poor Stark has no clue what is going on and just wants to play with this little girl. He plays with children all the time at the park and is FINE with them. Even plays with a little girl who is 2 years old (her Golden and Stark are play buddies).

Now, I quickly got on the elevator with one of the newcomers and said, "I think her screaming scared my puppy". He just smiled.. ugh.

So, what should I have done in this situation. There was no getting on the elevator quickly because they were in the way and the doors shut so I had to once again wait for the elevator to come... ugh. I did move away from them a little further and told Stark to "shh.. enough".

I am so upset by this... I feel bad for the little girl, but also kinda that the parents didn't do anything about the little girl screaming at my dog. I know she was afraid of the size of him, as per the Dad telling me but I don't want him barking or play bouncing at them, it sounds and looks bad.

Advice?

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 05:20 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

Poor Stark, the little girl must of scared him too, and he just wanted to play bounce up to her and let her know he's just a goofy, friendly puppy!
The people that walked up had no idea what happened prior to the little girl seeing Stark, and, for that matter, you don't either. The little girls daddy may have just commented, before the door opened, for her to stay back from the door cause a monster might get her, then ding, door opens, and there's Stark!

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 05:37 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

Sometimes kids are just odd. Human kids.

In Petco one day a couple and their son were in there...in a PET store...and when their kid (who was about 2-4) saw Anna started screaming "Mommy!! Mommy!! THAT BIG DOG IS GOING TO GET ME!!! WAHHHHHHHHHH!" I just slowly moved Anna away. She just stared at him with a head tilt like "what the crap?"

We went about our business, then the kid jumped out at us in an aisle then started screaming "I HATE THAT DOG!!"

After giving the kid the stink eye, I slowly walked Anna away. I don't want kids like that corrupting my dog. Sometimes kids are scared, but I think you need to remain calm, in control and ignore them, and teach your dog to do the same.


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 06:19 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

What I would do, Elizabeth, is get Stark's attention with Obedience Drills - Carry a few treats in your pockets just for this type of situation -

This will:

1) Get Stark's attention back onto you and away from the screaming girl.

2) Show Stark that YOU are more fun than a screaming little girl

3) Show all the people, the child, the parents, and the people who showed up, that you have a nice, obedient, well-trained, well-behaved puppy - that isn't terrorizing little girls.

4) Do wonders to proof him for distractions!

You could teach him a few fun tricks too to pull out in situations like this too. Usually, if I am somewhere public and I run across a person (adult or child) who is afraid of my dog, I platz him/her and stand between the dog and the person. They really appreciate seeing that you have control over your dog, and visibly relax - now harder with children - they stay afraid, but the adults appreciate your efforts on behalf of their kids.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 06:22 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

I always carry a small treat bag in my pocket.

When people are weird (as they so often are), I *calmly* -- using my legs and thighs, not using my leash to drag him -- back my dog into a corner or up against a wall (so I'm actually occupying his whole range of view), and lean over him a bit so that he sits. (I try to avoid giving him the command, because if he wants to lie down, then I want him to be able to do that instead).

Then provided he remains in this sit, I feed him bits of treats over and over -- a jackpot! And I tell him Good Quiet (treat), Good Sit (treat), Good Quiet (treat) , Good Sit (treat). If he lies down, then it's Good Settle (treat). I'm calm. I'm not paying attention the people. And my body language clearly tells them don't approach us.

I just keep him busy until the weird people have passed.

I can NOT control the public. All I can do is control myself and my dog. So we take up a little space (by walls if possible, so no one can sneak up on us from another direction), and he just works on being a good calm dog when the humans around him are losing their minds. The more you do this, the better he gets at going to a calm place (physically and in his mind) on his own. Weird people = sit and hang out. Mom will start doling out treats and praise.

I think that Stark did great. The problem is that odd people catch US off guard. We just need to kind of assume everyone will be bizarre; then we'll be prepared!
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 07:05 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

Poor Stark. He had no idea why the girl was screaming. It could be that her mom or someone is sacred of dogs. We used to have a family next door with children that were terrified of dogs and cats. They came from a culture that does not dogs or cats as pets. It took years before their children felt comfortable coming to our home
I carry extra treats just for these types of situations. i have not had a problem with children yet but sometimes other dogs barking and lunging at Benny causes him to bark and lunge back. When I see such a dog approaching I try to start running, while Benny keeps up with me, giving him lots of treats. or we play the "look at me" game and he gets lots of treats for looking and listening to me than the other dog.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 07:28 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

Can you go back ie away from the upset little girl, to take the exit stairs down to the next floor?

Problem is that these parents are also not doing the 'right' thing - at this point she is screaming terrified of dogs, so parents need to desensitize her to at least no longer screaming before trying the old "see, it's okay. Nice dog"; dad should just pet Stark etc but otherwise leave the kid out of the interaction (she's already having a scary [as in one she can't control] reaction to a terrifying event, having a parent say, see how silly you're being does NOT help).

Chances are you'll meet these people again, so I'd always have my escape route planned.

3K9Mom has great advice as always, but I had the nephew who was screaming terrified of dogs: there is no way that he would've gotten past Stark or ANY dog, big or small (in that confined space) without screaming, so if you the dog owner were to turn around & create more distance, I'd've been very thankful.
E doesn't want to be scared of dogs - he's always loved dogs in books & stories & truly wants to say hi to dogs (he's now 8 so he puts the brakes on his reaction himself) but he remains illogically frightened - if he had to pass a strange big dog in an apartment hallway, he probably wouldn't: he'd go somewhere else until the situation resolved; if he could keep at least a 12 foot distance he'd be outwardly fine. If Stark was lying down, E would feel alot safer.
His little brother is completely the opposite, he's the toddler that would run up & mug the dog (if his parents would let him).


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Quote:I feel bad for the little girl, but also kinda that the parents didn't do anything about the little girl screaming at my dog
What do you think/wish the parents had done?
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 07:32 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

Do you know which apartment the ppl live in? Would it be possible to contact them and arrange a private meeting with them? Then you could introduce the little girl to him in a setting where he might not be as intimidating.

I look at it this way. The guy obviously wanted his little girl to meet Stark so the family wasn't afraid. If she could see you sitting on the floor playing with Stark without forcing her to come over then maybe she could get over her fear. And Stark could see that little girls really aren't that big of a deal.

Maybe the parents didn't know what to do for her? If that was a reaction I completely did NOT expect from my kid I might be flabbergasted for the few remaining seconds.




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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 07:36 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Alto

Quote:
Quote:I feel bad for the little girl, but also kinda that the parents didn't do anything about the little girl screaming at my dog
What do you think/wish the parents had done?
Maybe tell the girl to stop screaming? I don't have kids, but I am a teacher so I spend my days with them. That is what I would have done.

My dogs got out of my yard a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time that had ever happened and really a fluke accident because they are normally supervised. It just so happened that one of them stepped in poop and ran over my foot. I shoved them back outside and was hoisting my foot into the kitchen sink when I heard dogs barking...mine...from the front yard! There is a little girl about 3 doors down that feeds the squirrels and my dogs must have seen her (in my yard none the less...) surrounded by her buddies. She was screaming bloody murder and running around like a maniac, all three of my dogs had treed different squirrels...i checked my options and grabbed the kid! Got her home...called the dogs and we went home. It was crazy!

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 07:36 PM
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Re: Oh Stark... advice needed!

I may be a burned out dog lover BUT when people act in ANY way weird or do something I can't understand I do NOT try to solve the problem just stay FAR FAR away.Think maybe this is not so stable human -think someone looking for lawsuit-SORRY I am not out there to save the world and educate crazy people.
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