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how to train a....kid

1129 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Brightelf
I know this is a weird question, not sure where to place it, if you have to mods, please move it. My question is, we have a bunch of people coming over for 4th of July, adults and kids. Everyone knows and love Shane, except for one child. This one child, has seen Shane many many many times, but is scared to death of him. Even when we have him on secured leash, he wants nothing to do with Shane. I want to introduce the kid to Shane and show him nothing to be afraid of, but the moment I bring Shane out he goes crying to the hills. Also, note Shane LOVES kids, to him, there are his play buddies. He doesn't jump on them, but he will "force" them to play fetch or toss the Frisbee or make them chase him. He is absolutely amazing with children. I just want to get this one kid to see it, is there anything I can do. Because if not, then Shane will have to be by himself during the party, and that would just break my heart, b/c he wants to be with everyone. Any ideas? Thanks
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What if Shane attends the party while on-lead? He can get pats, socialize, etc.

If you want Shane offlead, though, I would respect this youngster's fears-- and tread c-a-u-t-i-o-u-s-l-y here. One innocent (but abrupt, startling, spray-diffusing, and LOUD) sneeze from Shane, and any progress with this boy can be sent backwards, if the child is that terrified. I would rather have Shane miss out on a party than to have a child's fears cement by a waggy, happy, bumbling accidental bump, sneeze, etc... are you prepared to stay watching Shane like a hawk during this party? The last thing this child wants is to see this enormous monster (from his perspective) chasing and tussling with his peers.... and being LOOSE.

If you really want to introduce Shane to this child, let the child decide when it stops and should go no further.

Here is an idea to help:

1. Decide to intro the child and Shane together in a QUIET area-- NOT the party zone.
2. Bring out Shane ON LEAD.
3.DOWN Shane far away from the boy.
4. Ask the boy to approach Shane.
5. You groom Shane with an undercoat rake for a few strokes, showing the child how to do this.
6. Explain and show how much Shane looooves this, how it feels good to him.
7.Explain to the child, as you gently hand him the rake-- that this grooming tool can HURT Shane.. so be g-e-n-t-l-e.
8. Supervise the child gently grooming Shane.

This shows the child that Shane can FEEL.. he can feel good if he is groomed gently... or, he can feel HURT if roughly brushed. Let the child see that Shane has FEELINGS.

I still say be cautious here-- the fear is based on the randomness of the big dog's movements.. and letting him be free, offlead at a party with running kids.. i think the child would be quite anxious.

Maybe things will go well with the intro. I hope so!

Have a super party, too!
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Thanks Patti,

That is a super idea! I will ask the kid to see how he feels, but if not, like you said, I won't push the issue. Shane may have to be spend the party alone (with visitation and treats from me of course). At least I can try to see if I can bring Shane out on a lead, if the kid is comfortable with it.

It is the fact that Shane is a "big dog" that makes him scare. He just see's a big body, big head, big teeth, big paws! I don't blame the kid, I'd be scared too! ****, I seen adults run away from him lol. I just want to make him comfortable, so that when he does come over, I don't have to hide Shane and he be able to toss the ball to him (He always wanted to play fetch but too scared to try).

Thanks for the advice! I am looking forward to this party (my first break in a long time!) Have a wonderful 4th of July (Although you are in Germany lol)!
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I think this is a bad idea. It doesn't sound like the child is the least bit interested in this. Where do his parents stand on it? I don't think this is going to play well for anyone unless you have another activity for the child who is worried to do while Shane is out and Shane is out only BRIEFLY. Make the party good for all of your guests. Keep Shane put up or out only briefly if the child attends the party.

I am a dog nut or I wouldn't be on this board but I am feeling very bad for the child in this situaiton. He really doesn't need to be set apart from his peers at a party.
Tough situation all around. You didn't say how old the kid was. Chances are good that he won't come around to Shane in the course of one day. The **** of it is that most people will remove the dog just for the sake of peace and quiet from the screaming kid, though the dog is doing absolutely nothing wrong. Kids learn pretty quick too. I don't guess there is any chance you could put the kid in the house? I wouldn't take him long to realize the fun was going on outside. Sort of a little NILIF for the kid.
Kids are like dogs in many respects, recently I took Mack around a wee little guy and he initially started squawking but when I took Mack away within a few minutes he was asking where the puppy was. I took him back in and they got along famously. If a kid gets fussed over and babied over the deal, he has little incentive to overcome his irrational fear, if it is, indeed, irrational.
I have a Grandson that was mortified of Mack, but I convinced DIL to ignore the tantrums. The screaming bloody murder at the mere sight of Mack has stopped altogether. Of course it took some time. I think basically the kid has to come to the decision himself.
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Originally Posted By: middleofnowhereI think this is a bad idea. It doesn't sound like the child is the least bit interested in this. Where do his parents stand on it? I don't think this is going to play well for anyone unless you have another activity for the child who is worried to do while Shane is out and Shane is out only BRIEFLY. Make the party good for all of your guests. Keep Shane put up or out only briefly if the child attends the party.

I am a dog nut or I wouldn't be on this board but I am feeling very bad for the child in this situaiton. He really doesn't need to be set apart from his peers at a party.
I think you are misinterpreting my post. I am not going to anything unless the child says "ok." Otherwise, Shane is staying put; He can't join the party

The parents would love it if the kid liked Shane. They are big GS lovers as well. They are looking into getting a GS, but because of their child being fearful, they have to wait.

But like I said, I am not going to push it unless the kid is comfortable. Sorry, but when I said kid he is about 6 or 7.

I understand your concern, Middleofnowhere, it is going to be a very SLOW process, but I won't push it.
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I prefer my dogs to be out and about when people come over too. But I think a good first step would be to have Shane on leash at a distance, (tethered perhaps?) laying down calmly, so the kid gets used to him being around, but not right there in his face. Maybe give Shane a bone to chew, or a stuffed Kong to work on to keep him happy and occupied. Let other people go over and greet him, but don't force him on the kid. If that goes well, move him a little closer, but keep him CALM. This could take some time and I don't know how much you can accomplish in a day, but slow desensitization to the proximity of Shane doing nothing more threatening than hanging out enjoying a treat or toy is a good first step.
I actually kinda don't think this is the "big dog" issue as much as it seems. I would put money on that it is the randomness of the big dog that scares him. We're never afraid of the man in line in front of us as the grocery check-uut.... until next week when we learn he is the new dentist we are seeing! Now he seems "scary"-- because we do not know what he will do to us, in that white coat, wearing those gloves and mask.. got a big light.... etc. Basicly, the unknown randomness is what scares the child.

"Shane is going to lie down now, because I am going to ask him to."

"Shane like icecream too, just like you. Now he will lick a tiny amount of rocky road from this paper cup I am bringing him. See? He likes that." (reminds the boy Shane has feelings)

"Now Shane will lay here. That's his job, because I told him to lay there, he must stay there. If you come over to say hello to him, he is not allowed to move." (don't say.. not allowed to come to you, play with you, etc.. those are scary ideas best left unsaid-- big emphasis here is that he must down-stay and remain there until you say differently. This will help the child fee safe.

If the child wants, he can give icecream in a second little cup to Shane. If the child wants, he can talk to, look at, touch-- but remind the boy that "Shane may NOT get up.. I am sorry, but if you want Shane to do anything else, he is not allowed to. He must stay laying down until I say different."

The idea of seeing an immobile dog in a downstay, onleash, is a good thing for some scared kids.

Just random thoughts here. You can also tell a story of when Shane was scared of something, shy about something, nervous... a Shane-as-puppy story about him being a baby, a silly story, a goofy story.. a story about Shane being clumsy, or about him sleeping with a favorite toy. Also, Shane is just 16 months old. He is probably younger than all of the kids at the party. That is something to mention perhaps, too. Possibly none of these may help.. am just wishing the best for both boy and dog.

Happy 4th!
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One other suggestion, Have him sit with his mother, a distance from the dog. Let the other children play with the dog while the boy watches. Have him see the other children having fun with this dog while his mother talks about how much fun the kids are having with him. Dont push the kid too hard. Big dogs can be scary. But I have a feeling that letting the boy desensitize to the dog is ideal. You can do this by letting him watch others interact from a safe distance. Let the boy decide when he might want to get closer (just a bit to see the fun better)
Betsy's idea should work. No kid wants to be excluded from the group and have to sit with his mom while all the other kids are doing something. Provide him a nice quiet activity like coloring, a puzzle or LEGO just in case.

One of my boys is very sensitive. He used to be so shy, he'd cry if a stranger even looked at him. I don't push him into doing anything, I just let him watch other kids playing and almost always, he joins right in and has a good time.

My though is that maybe the parents, being GSD fans them selves have tried to push the child too hard to like big dogs. He may not want to just becuase Mom and Dad really want him too. If he's an only child, there's another clue.
Thanks Jen, my idea is basically give the kid all the cards and let him keep his safety zone. I have a very small boy that comes to the house and is afraid of Ava, not so much anymore, but mostly I ignore his fear and insist Ava stay put at a distance until Cole calms. Cole (the little boy) just learned today that it was kind of fun to throw a ball for Ava. She even brings it back, how cool is that?
Direct approach.

With parent's permission, ask the child why Shane is scary to him. You never know what lurks within the mind of a little one. Maybe he had a scary experience, maybe Shane looks like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood to him.

Gently explore and see if you find an "in" to explain or soothe misconception.

You might try showing the child (say have child inside watching Shane outside) examples of how Shane plays and let him see, in a non threatening way, how gentle Shane really is. Perhaps with another child his size or smaller?

Have Shane do something to make the child laugh. Laughter goes a long way in dispelling fear in a little one.
THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!!! I TOOK ALL YOUR ADVICE AND IT WORKED!!!!!! The little boy was able to bond with Shane!

I was telling a "sad" story about Shane. About how Shane has Lyme Disease and he limping and how he take medication
. IT WORKED! He wanted to see Shane and see his leg, (but he wasn't ready to touch him yet!) I was able to bring Shane within 20 feet of him!!!!!!!!!!! I was so proud of Shane, he was very calm!

Then I showed the tricks that Shane can do! AND THE LITTLE BOY ASKED IF HE COULD TRY! He was excited when he could Shane to "stand up" and to "speak"! AND HE ACTUALLY FED HIM! Again, SHANE WAS FANTASTIC, I was so proud of my baby! By the end of the night he was petting Shane. I couldn't believe it!

Shane was so happy to be with everyone, I was so proud of him. But when the neighbors started to set off their fireworks, I had to take Shane inside, he got too nervous. Otherwise, Shane was what you call "perfect" I was such a proud mama!

If I haven't said it enough...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL!
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What a happy ending to a terrific story! Thank you, Liljah!
YAYYYYYYYYYYYY Shane!! YAAAAAYYYYYYY Liljah!!!! You guys rock as a TEAM!! Good going.. and think of what you have done for that child. GREAT job!! I am so happy that it was a success. Hugs from me, slurps from Grimm!
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