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Old 12-09-2012, 03:10 AM
TahlzK TahlzK is offline
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Default Child and dogs - Afraid of interaction at times

I was hoping I wouldn't have to ask this but I have no idea how to go about it.

My niece Laila who is 4 is partly afraid of dogs. She's the one who's moving in when my brother does in two weeks. She's even afraid of their dog at times, Leo, the 13 week old SBT.

If she goes outside, she asks me to hold Leo. If I let him go, she gets upset or she'll jump on something so he can't reach her. If Leo goes near her, she'll grab his head/neck so he can't really move much. She has good moments with him as well of course. If Sunny comes near her, she has the same reaction of course. Serenity is the only one she's calmer around and that's because of course Serenity doesn't want to cuddle attack with her like the other two. Laila will let Serenity walk around her/come up to her without a issue. Plus, Serenity actually listens and will back off if told.

When she goes outside, I will do what she wants and ether hold the dogs/put them in a kennel. There are moments when she is fine with Leo wondering around without being restrained.

How can I help her like the dogs better? I have no idea what to do. She has to live around dogs for a long while so she has to get over this fear. I do know I need to teach both dogs to ignore her more but the biggest annoyance is when she's afraid and they aren't even paying attention to her/jumping up at her.

Or... Will I just have to hope she gets over this small fear as she ages?

Thank you.
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Old 12-09-2012, 03:34 AM
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Romy Romy is offline
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Really, her parents should be doing the bulk of handling this. My niece is the same way only much more fearful. The main difference is she doesn't have to live with dogs. They're taking her to a counselor to help her get over it.

I'd just continue what you're doing and make sure she isn't flooded/overwhelmed by them because that could make it worse. Hopefully she'll get more confidence around them as Leo grows up.

Part of the problem is not knowing why she's afraid. Was she ever attacked or really scared by a dog? Is it totally random? Is it something else about them, like she's freaked out by their smell/slobber/getting knocked over/etc.

If you ask her specifics about what she's feeling, is she able to pinpoint what about the dog makes her uneasy? Knowing stuff like that would make it a lot easier to help her.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:05 AM
TahlzK TahlzK is offline
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Sadly my brother doesn't seem to take this seriously. He lets Leo do whatever he wants around Laila and sas 'They are just having fun' I have tried talking to him. He got angry at her today because she had a big cry when Sunny approached her. My older sister is afraid of dogs and I don't want my niece to fear them. I do believe she has a chance to get over this fear though. I hope.

Thank you. I'll continue doing what I'm doing. I just hope it helps her. My concern is Leo growing older because at the moment she can control him but he's going to be a high energy dog/boisterous dog. I am training and working with him so hopefully he'll behave with her.

She's never been attacked, as far as I know she's never had a scary experience. She's defiantly scared of being bitten and sadly Leo had nipped her a few times so the fear is set in. I have been working with Leo and he doesn't try and nip as much anymore. She really doesn't like the dogs coming in to her personal space most of the time. This fear just seems so random.

I will ask her those questions. I never thought of doing that. Thank you for the great idea!

I am hopeful because she has moments of being fine around the dogs.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:36 AM
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Though my brother did try and explain to Laila that Sunny wont bite. I don't think he understands why she's so afraid.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:36 AM
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Since your brother is so disinterested, I would keep trying to teach the dogs (including his dog) good manners (not jumping, etc.) and maybe, as they get better, you can enlist your niece's help with the training so she'll feel more in control of the situation.

I have the opposite problem with my 4yr old niece - she's fascinated with dogs and would constantly be in Riley's face (which makes him very nervous) if my sister and I didn't keep an eagle eye on the situation. Sis will even send my niece out of the room to go play somewhere else to give Riley a break.

My 6 yr old nephew also likes dogs but he's willing to listen and he's very good about not petting Riley without asking my permission. That said, both kids are somewhat fearful of their neighbor's dog - a terrier mix who constantly jumps on them and nips. I guess that's why Riley fascinates them, he's very low key around people he doesn't see too often.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:44 AM
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I think with your dogs it's better that she's not too 'in their face'. But you can do things to get her used to the dogs. Get a two foot leash, and let her pick a dog to 'walk'. Keep the regular leashes on but she can use her short leash to help walk them. It's a good activity she can do. She can also help count their food scoops and put the food bowls down depending on your dogs - she can put them in the crates then you can let the dogs in from outside and into the crates for example. Also do some training that she can help with, like she puts the food on a target while you hold the dog, and then she can say 'target' and they can go get it. Or teach them to nose a target and then have her hold the target, so the dogs learn to target her - by just nosing and then coming to you for reward. Once she's ok with that, have her go around a corner and hide and soon she can play hide and seek with them. Any training she sees will help her get that they have minds and think and can be controlled, which helps.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:49 AM
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So much good advice already

I was going to suggest that you do some easy training with her -- stuff the dogs already know so she'll gain confidence because they're doing what she asks, just simple things like a basic sit or down, then maybe move onto games and things like Kilter's talking about?

Poor kid. Her dad doesn't know, does he, that flooding isn't good for dogs OR children.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:56 AM
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Is she only afraid of Sunny because Leo's puppy behavior's (jumping, scratching, nipping) have made her afraid, or does Sunny jump as well?

If it's just Leo, explain to her that because Leo is a puppy, he needs help learning how to be gentle and play nice, but she doesn't need to be afraid of Sunny and dogs in general because of this. Tell her you will make sure Leo doesn't hurt her when you're watching them.

Keep Leo on a leash, even when playing in the yard, with the kids. Show Laila how to distract Leo with a chew toy if he goes to nip her arms or hands. Work diligently to curb his jumping, pawing, and mouthing, even if it doesn't bother the adults in the house so much. Little kids are sensitive, a puppy nip that doesn't really phase an adult is going to REALLY feel painful to a child. If he gets too wild, remove him from the situation to cool down, and let him return to playing with Laila (leashed and supervised) when he's calmer.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:53 PM
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I was the same way as a little kid. Dogs can be pretty overwhelming. I think she needs a lot of positive experiences with dogs while they are behaving in a calm and predictable manner so she can build her confidence.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:25 AM
TahlzK TahlzK is offline
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Snark, Kilter and Renee; Thank you so much for the advice! I really do appreciate it. I plan to put your advice in to action. I am currently working hard at working with the dogs basic manners. Serenity listens already so it's just Sunny and Leo.

Snark, I actually am currently trying to include my niece with Leo's training, sometimes she'll want to help, other times, as won't. I really only ask her to help me with getting him to sit at the moment. I'm glad you were able to work with your niece. I just hope I can help mine! My nephew is the braver one around the dogs but he's younger.

Kilter; You have the greatest ideas. I love them all. I plan to start doing all of them when the kids move in (in about two weeks) Thank you for sharing the ideas.

I'll defiantly be doing that Renee. Hopefully it really will help my niece and those experiences will build her confidence when the dogs listen to her. Sadly he doesn't. I'm trying to educate him. I had to educate myself because I love dogs and its hard for me to see my niece so afraid at times when there's no need... But I need to understand she's younger and doesn't understand dogs yet/is still learning things herself.

Milos_mommy; No. She's knew Sunny before Leo. Sunny has never jumped on her but when he tries greeting her, he gets real close up and she doesn't like that, I of course don't allow this anymore. At times he can just walk past her and she worries he'll get to close to her. When he pays her no mind, she's fine. I took your advice today while I went over and baby sat, I explained I wouldn't let Leo hurt her and I kept him from doing anything she wouldn't like. She seemed to like that. I'll start keeping him leashed all the time, that should really help. I did have him leashed at times, just not all the time. I didn't really consider how much more painful a playful bite would be to a child. Thank you for your insight, it's appreciated.

Sparrow; What helped you get over your fear? That's probably why she likes Serenity. She may have issues but she's calmer then Sunny and Leo.
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