Socializing a 14 w/o pup with children - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Socializing a 14 w/o pup with children

Hi guys,

I'm hoping you can help me with this, I'm working really hard every single day with my pup, but I have a couple of things I'm having trouble with, and this is probably the biggest/most frightening problem I've had.

I am trying really hard to expose my pup to everything I can. I take her all over the place with me. She has met kids before and was ok with them, but I had a bit of a bad experience this past weekend.

This past Monday, I took her to a park where there was a splash pad and lots of kids. We stayed back from it a bit and did some things like sits, and downs etc., then let her watch again and then did a bit more of that type of thing.

she handled all that really well and was relaxed about being near the kids. When the one end cleared out a bit I let her go over and check out the water for a minute, but then more kids came over so we moved back a bit and let her watch them again, everything was fine.

All of a sudden a toddler ran straight for us which REALLY upset my pup. I know it's not uncommon for them to be a bit weirded out by toddlers as they are a bit erratic in their movements. She was ok with them being nearby, and I think if she can come up to them in her own time she'll be fine, but those little ones don't understand that you can't run up to strange dogs and stopping and waiting quietly seems to not be a concept they can't grasp.

When one decided to make a bee-line for her, it frightened her. She was a fair ways off from the child and the dad scooped the kid up, but I'm now worried about how to get her used to kids when I can't control the kids.

Toddlers obviously don't understand how to properly approach a dog and I can grab my dog, but I can't grab another persons child who's running toward us. Apparently toddlers don't know the meaning of 'stop!'.

My question is - I don't have kids and neither do my close friends.

How can I socialize my pup with kids safely? Two times that I was there kids tried to run up to her quickly and frightened her.

She was pet by a little bit older child and had no problems, was licking her etc. but again while that girl was petting her, another toddler tried to run over and my pup shied back.

How can I work on this with her when the kids are running amok? I certainly don't want her to nip one out of fear, so I really want to try and help her be more comfortable with being around all those crazy kids.

Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 01:59 PM
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The tiny children need to be held by a parent when petting your pup and you need to be right there by your dog with a a finger in her collar so you can completely control your pup. You don't want to totally restrain your pup, just be in a position where you can in a moment's notice.

Older children can de dealt with by having them sit down or walk up slowly while you get your pup under control.

All interactions should be as calm and slow as possible with you quietly reassuring your pup to ensure a positive experience.

Elaine and the herd
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 02:04 PM
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I've been curious about this issue too. Our girl (rescued in May, 17 mos. old) is very shy and small children in particular are frightening to her. You're right that it's often the high-pitched noises and erratic movements that set anxious dogs off.

We don't have children either, but we do live in a neighborhood that has lots of them. I think it's important never to force your dog to greet a child, particularly if you can tell your dog is frightened. Instead, we've been taking Pyrrha to the park and letting her sit--from a safe distance--and just watch children.

Gradually, she's had more positive encounters with older children (maybe 5 years and up) and that's been reassurring. As Elaine says, always stick very close to your dog when greeting small children and watch his body language vigilantly.

It's definitely a work in progress for us, too. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey with this.

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks you guys, I was so upset that the child scared her (I didn't react that way at the time), it was really disheartening.

doggerel, be careful that what happened to me doesn't happen to you. The kids just took off, away from their parents and ran at her, I had to get in between them.

I'll keep trying at it, she was very good from a short distance, it's just when the kid locked onto her and ran right toward her she got upset.

Elaine, thanks, having the older kid sit is a really good idea. I do keep her on a leash and have a good hold of her if kids want to pet her, but the toddlers are just so innocent and have no idea that the fluffy puppy might not want to be grabbed.

The one lady apologized and said "Sorry, she hasn't learned how to meet dogs yet" but she didn't even come and hold her back or anything. Poor puppy dog.

I'll keep you guys posted on how things progress, if there are any other suggestions, please keep them coming!
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