Sudden fear of little kids.

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by sara, May 7, 2009.

  1. sara Moderator

    Oliver has been doing sooo well, he went through a puppy socialization/obedience class at the top, I might add. his dog aggression is fading slowly, tho I am still overly cautious and advancing very slowly on this one. (but we may have a little set back, as he was attacked yesterday by a very large dog that got out of it's yard, and came into the condo complex' yard... but I'm happy to say Ollie didn't start it, just didn't back down. no one was injured... i think it was more of an argument than anything.)

    My Problem is that Ollie has developed a sever fear of small children. He used to LOVE kids, and would sit nicely for pats and hugs, he would give very gentle kisses and never jump on them. BUT a few weeks ago, we were at Petsmart. I was talking to a lady and her 2 little girls came running up with toys (stuffed dog toys) in their hands. they were shaking them and yelling MOM LOOK!!! I didn't notice them until it was too late, and I really wasn't all that worried..... that is until Ollie panicked. they then advanced on him to pet him, he was trying to get away but we were in a corner, I managed to get between him (a feat as he was flipping and running around... ) and them and got them to back off, their mom was doing NOTHING!!! my:"STOP HE'S SCARED" worked finally... but I think it scared Ollie even more. big time pandemonium, and sooo my fault. now he growls when he even sees a kid 200 yards away, he will not let them anywhere near him, wont approach a kid sitting on the grass beside me with treats.... nothing. I'm worried he's going to turn aggressive with this. I'm not going to push him, and am going to have to build up trust between us again... I really think me yelling at the kids, and continuing to hold his leash during the "attack" scared him enough to loose trust in me. he is the type to easily develop fear-aggression, and I cant have that.

    Does any one have any ideas (Snooks? lol)on re-establishing trust, and lessening his fear of children? he's back to being afraid of going out of his "comfort zones" (my house, my Mom's house, and respective yards, my truck, and funnily enough, he's ok with Petsmart still) but he's back to thinking cars are trying to run him over during walks, and people are very bad "Out There". Poor guy. I'm doing alot of clicker work (teaching touch and targets, different tricks and such) will having a really friendly buddy meeting kids where he can see help? it seems to help with his dog aggression. He's 9 months old now, and he's been off the streets for about 3 1/2 months, and with me for 3 month + 1 week. I want to do this right, and not make it worse....

  2. sara Moderator

    oh, and I should also say that I dont have any little kids at my disposal (hee hee) to work on this with me... it's gonna have to be intermittent when I spot a likely candidate, who's willing and Parent's are OK with it.
  3. ruffmuttk9z New Member

    Nine months old is right smack in the middle of a fear period for puppies. If I were you, I would simply ignore the behavior for now and see if it doesn't clear up within a couple of months on its own.
  4. fickla Experienced Member

    Sorry, I don't know how I missed this post! I agree, the first thing I thought when I read your post was fear period. I would hope that simply time might make it better. But since it's better to be on the safe side, you have the right idea of treating alot and doing targeting. If your dog can be shaped to touch what he's afraid of it might help a lot. If he's really scared, then I would shape a touch but reward AWAY from the scarey thing. So click a tiny step forward and throw the treat backwards from it. Hopefully you can find some nice calm kids who will just sit still and let Ollie sniff them, and then have them give Ollie treats if he's doing ok. The "look at that" game can also help a lot too with anything he's scared of.

    Since it's been a couple weeks since you've posted, has he gotten any better?
  5. sarhaspups New Member

    I agree that it is probably a fear period, loud noisey fast moving kids are all of a sudden weird and scary. I would not push him / force him to accept kids just yet. Work from a distance, as far of a distance that you have to be at for him to be calm with the kids playing...ect. Do some 'look at that' games with him. Lots of treats and praise for watching calmly. Slowly move closer to the kids. Don't make a big deal out of the kids since he is so young.
    How is he now? I am sure you can work through this phase they all seem to go through, especially when you are not around kids very much, like myself. I have had to deal with this issue a lot with my dogs b/c i just don't have access to dog savvy kids.
  6. sara Moderator

    I know it's a bad fear stage right now... poor guy seems to be getting more and more fears suddenly. now he is afraid of people who approach him a certain way, i am working with a behaviorist, to try and get him calmer... we are already doing alot of what you suggested. he seems to be developing more and more fears. it started with kids..... now it seems to be everything. he's also backsliding with the fear aggression towards dogs. So we are just taking it slow, I am mostly trying to build confidence, and trust, and get more focus. He's such a sweet boy, I just wish people would learn how to approach a dog properly! he is terrified if they look him in the face, and reach towards him, and if he's in the truck (cab, NEVER bed(back)), NO ONE can get near it but me! which isn't such a bad thing.... lol. I am not rushing him, nor pushing anything he is scared of on him.... I dont believe in flooding. I want complete trust. Poor guy, I'm really sad this has happened to him... we were talking about his therapy dog potential, he loved EVERYONE!!! Damn, those kids just had to scare him at a HORRIBLE time!
  7. sarhaspups New Member

    I know what you are going through Sara, I have been there with one of my BC boys that got scared of kids at a young age b/c of the way they acted, throwing things, loud, running, taunting him from the other side of the fence..ect. It sucks but I am certain you guys will get through it. I'm glad that you are going to a professional to help you. It's a long process sometimes so just take is slow like you said and it will work out. Good luck and good job sticking with him. Let us know when you cross that bridge and how you went about it.
  8. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    My problem exactly. I know very few people with children well-controlled enough to not freak out the dog, lol. Rusty's very timid with children, Zeke is extremely over-excited with them, and Mudflap...well, she just loves everyone. She's actually PERFECT with children despite her sketchy past.

    Ditto everything that's been said. Also avoid situations where it's easy to get trapped--for example, busy Petsmarts/PetCos. Not that you should avoid any socialization at all, but if you get bombarded on an aisle in one of these places and there's no quick escape or breathing room for him, it's likely to escalate his problem. More big open parks, less crowded busy places. There's many hunting supply stores, home improvement stores, etc that are dog-friendly that are much less busy and intimidating than a packed pet store. Call around to some places and see who allows dogs. Less bad experiences to make the problem worse. You might also try slowly introducing him to familiar people approaching him as a child does. (Including you.) May sound silly but it's a small step that will familiarize him at least with the greeting.

    Good luck and keep us posted!!

    Helpful link to give you ideas on something I suppose you could term "greeting desensitization."

    ABRI Videos and Podcasts --Scroll down to 'Points of View: What We See' and 'Points of View: What People See'
  9. sarhaspups New Member

    I agree with you tx cowgirl but I wouldn't suggest having a child greet the dog until the dog can be comfortable and calm with a child near by first. Even if being approached with an adult, the dog will only see the kid b/c that is what he fears.
    I do agree that you don't want the dog to feel trapped b/c they will 'fright or flight' and that is when a dog can become agressive, out of fear. They either bite or run. Like I said earlier, you wanna work on him gradually but do keep socializing him in public with adults.
    Just my opinion.
  10. sara Moderator

    He's now afraid of strangers too... but I've figured out his trigger, and am working it out. He is terrified of anyone who looks him in the face, if they ignore him, he's fine... It's not kids he's afraid of, it's ANY stranger who looks him in the face. I have a friend who is a behaviorist who has given me some ideas, on top of what I'm already doing. It's working, slowly, but it is... I just cant figure out where I went wrong, and made him afraid.... poor guy
  11. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Aw, poor dog! It does seem that he'd have to be around kids to reduce his an open space, with a well-instructed child, and plenty of adults, and a leash, to make it safe. I liked that advice about above about having a calm kid sit and let Ollie eventually sniff the kid and give Ollie treats. Once that is going well, advance along to two kids....

    Over much time, slowly advance along to a kid he has already sniffed and met and accepted run around at some distance, so Ollie can observe, "Oh, she's running." and slowly, slowly, advance along? No?

    Ha, i have lotsa ideas for YOUR dog's fear, but can't get MINE to get his feet wet anymore!!!:msngiggle:
  12. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    OH, but if it is ALL strangers, yeah, start with the adults...yeah. true enuff.
  13. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Petsmarts are pretty stimulating, maybe overstimulating for lotsa dogs...Ollie mighta been already working his lil self up inside.... when the kids approached and he just fell apart inside...
  14. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I wouldn't say that it's your fault at all, really. That one bad experience could've triggered it all. He may not have shown any clear signs before that he was uncomfortable in any way. With dogs with sketchy histories, you can do everything right but still end up with an issue. Doesn't mean it's any fault of your own. Don't beat yourself up. :) I know you'll help him work through it. Good luck and keep us posted!

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