Terrified of children - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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Terrified of children

For the past month and a half, Texas has been terrified of children. If she sees and hears children or a child, she become skittish and nervous. When I first got her, she was a bit aggressive with children; she would bark and try to bite them. Now, Texas can't even have a child try to reach out for her, even if the child has a treat; she starts pulling on the lead and trying to hide behind me. There were about two instances that she would actually try to get near the child and smell him or her, but then soon after would revert back to hiding.

I brought this up with my trainer, and she told me to continue having children come up to her with treats and try to find a calm child to do this, rather than the rowdy ones. I do walk her by children as much as I can and give her treats when she does well. Though usually, she will try to change the pace to get by as fast as we can or tries to change directions. Yesterday, she did well walking by a few children, some were even rowdy, but when we stopped she would try to hide again.

What would you recommend? How can I make her more comfortable around children? This could be a fear stage, but I just don't want it to be a permanent behavior. Texas is 7 months old.

Texas Lone Star Ranger Black GSD 06/10
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Last edited by RogueRed26; 02-12-2011 at 12:55 PM.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by RogueRed26 View Post
For the past month and a half, Texas has been terrified of children. If she sees and hears children or a child, she become skid dish and nervous. When I first got her, she was a bit aggressive with children; she would bark and try to bite them. Now, Texas can't even have a child try to reach out for her, even if the child has a treat; she starts pulling on the lead and trying to hide behind me. There were about two instances that she would actually try to get near the child and smell him or her, but then soon after would revert back to hiding.

I brought this up with my trainer, but she told me to continue having children come up to her with treats and try to find a calm child to do this, rather than the rowdy ones.

No, no, no, no, NO! If she's nervous and skittish around kids, do NOT have them come up to her. Do NOT let them reach for her or hand her treats. Way before you get to that point (assuming you're willing to put the time and effort to get her there and that she progresses to the point where you feel it's safe to do so) you need to teach her to be calm and relaxed when kids are in the vicinity but at a distance. What that distance is for her, you'll have to figure out. You want her to remain below threshold, to where she can see (or hear) kids, but they're far enough away that she's not worried about them - that will be your starting point, and you'll have to find a place where you can work with her under controlled circumstances.

It's possible that she will never learn to love kids, and that's okay as long as you can manage her environment to where she's never in close enough proximity to kids that it's a problem. Behavior modification through counter-conditioning and desensitization takes a lot of time, but you can train a new emotional response to the presence of children, from fear/stress/anxiety, to happy anticipation. Here are some articles for you:

http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/webfm_send/43

Aggressive Behaviors in Dogs - We're Not Rewarding Fear

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Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 01:12 PM
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Go to an elementary school at lunchtime (recess) but don't go ON school grounds. Just maybe across the street where she can see and hear them but there is no way they will come over to her. Just watching them with no interaction may help.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 01:16 PM
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Go to an elementary school at lunchtime (recess) but don't go ON school grounds. Just maybe across the street where she can see and hear them but there is no way they will come over to her. Just watching them with no interaction may help.
Yes, this would be a perfect scenario to work on CC & D. Kids will be around, but there's no chance of them approaching.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-12-2011, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cassidy's Mom View Post
No, no, no, no, NO! If she's nervous and skittish around kids, do NOT have them come up to her. Do NOT let them reach for her or hand her treats. Way before you get to that point (assuming you're willing to put the time and effort to get her there and that she progresses to the point where you feel it's safe to do so) you need to teach her to be calm and relaxed when kids are in the vicinity but at a distance. What that distance is for her, you'll have to figure out. You want her to remain below threshold, to where she can see (or hear) kids, but they're far enough away that she's not worried about them - that will be your starting point, and you'll have to find a place where you can work with her under controlled circumstances.

It's possible that she will never learn to love kids, and that's okay as long as you can manage her environment to where she's never in close enough proximity to kids that it's a problem. Behavior modification through counter-conditioning and desensitization takes a lot of time, but you can train a new emotional response to the presence of children, from fear/stress/anxiety, to happy anticipation. Here are some articles for you:
Thank you, Cassidy's Mom and cassadee. I will read those articles. We live in an apartment complex that used to be calm and quiet, and now our new neighbors are families who have children. Children are constantly playing outside and I think this might have been the start of it. Also, we live right across from a high school, so she sees her fair amount of children and young adults. We have tried looking at children from a distance, at the complex. Whenever she would get antsy, I would just call her to me and try to redirect her for a game of tug to try to ease the tension. Sometimes she budges, sometimes she doesn't. I was not aware that my asking children to feed her was going backwards. Though, I will stop and just focus on conditioning the presence of children.

Texas is a very much a city dog: ambulances, firetrucks, police cars, or high traffic sounds do not faze her, but a child is something else for her.

Texas Lone Star Ranger Black GSD 06/10
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Last edited by RogueRed26; 02-12-2011 at 01:29 PM.
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