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Anxious around kids

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by Crywolf, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    There's a park I walk Scully at Thats by a playground. Lately Shes been reactive on leash in the sense that she pulls towards stuff more and more lately (never barks or growls THO), when we walked past the kids she was visibly nervous, ears back, ignoring me. She didn't growl but she was high alert darting her eyes around. The park had kids on bikes, running, bouncing balls, so it was super chaotic. But I've also noticed lately her pulling towards kids when they are running when we are on walks. In a way she doesn't do for adults.

    What are some suggestions at getting her more relaxed. I'm trying the "click and treat when she sees a kid" trick, but I don't want to put kids in a situation where she might react. Should I have us go across the street and sit?
  2. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    I guess is it ok for her to appear anxious in a chaotic situation or should I be aiming for her to have zero reaction to running kids?
  3. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    Her trainer and I are meeting next week to focus on this issue but wondering what to do until then?
  4. Lillie May

    Lillie May Good Dog

    It's a normal behavior for dogs to become alert when a lot of action is going on. Especially if it isn't part of their daily environment. I would keep her away from the chaos until you can talk to the trainer. You don't want a problem to develop that can be avoided through training. She's young, so lots of action probably makes her become more alert, or prey drive kicking in. My dogs thrive in lots of chaos, it's what they're used to. The kids play with them and they're used to quick movements from them. I do keep the one with guardian tendencies away from the kids playing, because I don't want to put anyone at risk. The point I'm making is, she's not used to it but it's still normal. Your trainer will be able to help you.
  5. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    Thanks! People are just always like "my dog adores kids" "kids are her favorite" "she's always adored then" about their dogs and so I was wondering if being relaxed around kids is a "default" and normal and anything else is an issue to watch for. Saying that now I know it sounds stupid lol.
  6. Leslie H

    Leslie H Good Dog

    However, getting nervous around kids is not normal. Interested, eager, curious, that's normal.
  7. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    i think she's more nervous about the movements and activity (running, flailing, screaming). I'm going to work with my trainer to desensitize her. One on one and in small groups she is eager to say hello to them and lets them pet her and seems friendly. I think its just kids in boisterous play that scared her. Her reaction at the park was apprehensive but she was taking treats.
  8. DancesWithCurs

    DancesWithCurs Good Dog

    Working at desensitization while keeping her from spots that are over her threshold seems like the best place to start
  9. Lillie May

    Lillie May Good Dog

    Not every dog loves kids, lol just so you know. There are some who just ignore them or avoid them when they're around. If you can take 2 pics for us when you see her become alerted that would help. A side view head to tail and one from the front showing her eyes, ears, body and if the tail is in view. Also, is it possible you're taking her curiosity, excitement for all the action as being nervous? Like when you thought she was being aggressive with your co-worker, but was just seeking attention?
  10. bsand

    bsand Good Dog

    My pup reacts to kids running and its to run after them the closet to kids he's ever been were my cousins and they are scared of all dogs and last time ran away from a 8 week old puppy and didn't expect him to chase lol
    Now he gets over happy and I make him sit every time he starts to get too rowdy
  11. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    I think this is a common issue with me, I ALWAYS expect the worst in her. If she appears at all at attention or eager, I take it as aggressive (it doesn't help that a lot of the dog body language sites I've seen seem to put them in the same diagram, like "this is "AGRESSIVE/INTERESTED"). For instance just now she was looking at a person walking towards us with ears perked and "staring" (although its not a "hard stare") and I immediately was like "dammit she probably is feeling agro towards that person" well as I turned the corner the guy suddenly came into our space and Scully pulled towards him and nosed his arm, started wagging her tail and she acted like she had just met her long lost love. Anyways, the point being, I DO tend to interpret ANY interest/attentiveness/curiosity/intentness from her as some form of dominant/agro behavior. If she keeps looking at a person after we pass them, I think "she didn't like that person" rather than "shes interested because he's jangling keys, or has a big thing in his hands"

    Anyways, thats my damage. It would help if things online were clearer about body language because they all look very similar, shes quite expressive and clear so I think I could get better at being more accurate.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2015
  12. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    The coworker thing was just 'cause I thought it was weird that she kept looking at her. She did the same thing to my roommate she was slightly unsure of at first (and she had barked/growled at her a few times when she would come into my room, I had a post a while back. All the advice helped btw). But shes gotten better (although now she follows the roommate around looking at her, and then looking at me for treats lol but she DOES seem more relaxed).
  13. BCdogs

    BCdogs Good Dog Staff Member Super Moderator

    This one is a pretty good example.


    I find that when my male is alert, he will be standing straight, tail up, ears pricked. When he's aggressing, he tends to crouch down more as if he's bracing himself to pounce. Tail will still be up, ears will be pricked. The only real difference is his stance. Yes, a lot of reactions can look similar, which is why it ends up falling to you to know your dog and what means what. It will take some time but you will learn to distinguish between the sometimes minor differences that mean an entirely different thing. And really, you need to take a deep breath. I've probably already said this to you before, but you overreact a lot. Your dog isn't being aggressive every time she shows interest in something. Frankly, I'm amazed that she isn't a nervous wreck, cause you certainly seem to be. (no offence)
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2015
  14. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog

    Hahaha none taken. Yeah I'm definitely. I'm trying tho, taking her to training classes, private trainer, giving her a strict schedule. I genuinely think shes just a good dog with some minor, but real, issues, and I'm not sure why I just assume shes seconds away from going all kujo. She's been super responsive to any kind of counter conditioning training. I think its that I assume that when you see a dog have an issue, its the sort of "iceburg" effect, in that its indicative of a ton of other issues just waiting to come out.

    For what its worth, everyone else in my life (in the "real world") thinks I'm just this strong willed, strict, confident dog trainer. Little do they know its all an act.
  15. BCdogs

    BCdogs Good Dog Staff Member Super Moderator

    Well I think you're doing a great job. It's better to ask questions and find out it's not a big deal than ignore it and have something real happen. So keep up the great work, and remember to just stay relaxed and go with your gut. :)
  16. Lillie May

    Lillie May Good Dog

    I'm going to agree with BC on everything except the go with your gut. It listens to your head! Perhaps some lavender oil for yourself? Two things, Scully knows what you really feel, so that's something you definitely need to work on. She's not fooled! Some exercises for you to try at home is really start watching her body language when you're playing with her, doing something inside that the two of you enjoy. Pretty soon you will be recognizing relaxed playfulness, watch her when she's just relaxing, etc. If something startles her make a note of head, ears, tail and general body stance.

    Now point two, go to YouTube and type in - canine body language. I checked out three I think can get you started. I'll watch more of them later, but I think you'll find it's a good start.

    1- Understanding Dog Body Language - Kristen Crestejo
    2- Dog Body Language - the family dog
    3- Zoom Room Guide to Body Language - Zoom Room

    Please let me know if you liked them or not, it'll help me when searching for relevant ones to recommend.
  17. Crywolf

    Crywolf Little Dog


    It also probably doesn't help that right after I got her I wanted to do more "research" and ended up on DogsBite and several other sites that had former pit owners talking about their family dog with no aggression turning on them (like that story with the "kissy face" dog). It made me terrified to say the least and I almost returned her. I have a bunch of pit owner friends who talked sense into me and directed me to other sites, and I know now theres lots of factors (also other things are way more likely to kill you. Like your car, etc). ANYWAYS. Thats probably in the back of my head still every time I see anything that could be a "red flag" which is ONE REASON why I'm so neurotic lol. Be careful with google search!

    ANYWAYS, the videos:
    Understanding Dog Body Language - Kristen Crestejo
    This one was GREAT I loved it and thought it showed a wide range of emotions and clues. I think her explanations were clear, easy to understand, and the dogs she used were perfect and seeing these behaviors in context really helped. It also helped that there were dogs of varying degrees of severity so you could really see what to look for.

    Dog Body Language - the family dog
    This one I didn't like as much, it was a little hard to get a feel for the because some of the photos I didn't think were that helpful.

    zoom room guide to dog body language
    This one was better than the 2nd one. I liked it more towards the end, and I think it had some very informative breakdowns of the different stances and danger signs.

    Hope this helped you! Thank you for sharing them.
  18. Leslie H

    Leslie H Good Dog

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