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Question
Posted by: Anca | 2011/04/08

scared of small kids

We have a male (sterilised) cress breed Boxer / Boerbul puppy (Rango is his mane) and he is 11 months on 27 April. We bought him from people when he was 6 weeks old. We are 3 adults and my daughter of 12 years of age, in the house. The problem is our Rango is scared of the small kids that come to visits a few times a month. The boys is between 2 and 4 year of age. When the boy come close to him, he runs away very scared and does not want to get close to any of the boys at all. Must we be concerned and will it get better as he gets older or what can we do to get Rango more kids friendly?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Anca, nice to hear from you and so glad your seeking help on this while still in early stages - well done! What you need to do is to start sorting this out urgently. The trouble with a behaviour such as this is that the dog is acting out of fear. When a dog is fearful or cant cope, it will exhibit one or more of the 5F' i.e. Fight, Flight, Fooling Around, Freeze or in extreme cases Faint. Your little one is exhibiting the Flight response. The trouble is that if for some reason this does not work due to the dog being cornered etc, it will instinctively go into fight mode. This may start with a growl, snap etc, but when that doesnt work you end up with full blown aggression. Just for future knowledge and to share with family and friends - a pup should never be taken away from its mother before 8 weeks of age. The period between 6-8 weeks is a critical one and dogs taken away at this time very often have fear related problems. Do have a look on my friendsofthedog website in the articles on puppies to arm yourself and give you the knowledge you need for future.
Where your situation is concerned, i would rather you got in a professional to help you. What you can start doing for now, is to very, very, very, slowly start to desensitize Rango to small children. Have him on lead and a large handful of reall nice treats with you. Have a child in the room, sitting with an adult to control the child and not let him near the dog (perhaps reading the child a story). Bring Rango in to the far side of the room and talk to him gently, popping him lovely treats all the time. As he starts to settle give him a few more treats then take him out the room. As you leave the room it is vital that the treats stop. The association is that good things only happen when a child is in the room. Give him a 5 min break then repeat the process. When you feel he really is relaxed, take ONE step closer to the child and repeat. It is vitally important in situations such as this that you progress slowly towards the child and dont let the dog stress. This needs to be done over a few days and the dog must always be coping. When the dog and child are about 6' apart, contact me again and i will tell you what the next step is. If you can, do get a behaviourist to help you with this. Google animal behaviour consultants and find one in your area. This can be easily achieved, but things can go wrong as well and you dont want to make it worse. A professional will be knowledgeable about a dogs body language, early signs of stress and will know when to proceed and when to pull back. Good luck and do let me know how you go. Thanks Scotty

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: anca | 2011/04/08

I will start doing as you mentioned. Thanks a lot for the advide Scotty. It is much appresiated

Reply to anca
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011/04/08

Hi Anca, nice to hear from you and so glad your seeking help on this while still in early stages - well done! What you need to do is to start sorting this out urgently. The trouble with a behaviour such as this is that the dog is acting out of fear. When a dog is fearful or cant cope, it will exhibit one or more of the 5F' i.e. Fight, Flight, Fooling Around, Freeze or in extreme cases Faint. Your little one is exhibiting the Flight response. The trouble is that if for some reason this does not work due to the dog being cornered etc, it will instinctively go into fight mode. This may start with a growl, snap etc, but when that doesnt work you end up with full blown aggression. Just for future knowledge and to share with family and friends - a pup should never be taken away from its mother before 8 weeks of age. The period between 6-8 weeks is a critical one and dogs taken away at this time very often have fear related problems. Do have a look on my friendsofthedog website in the articles on puppies to arm yourself and give you the knowledge you need for future.
Where your situation is concerned, i would rather you got in a professional to help you. What you can start doing for now, is to very, very, very, slowly start to desensitize Rango to small children. Have him on lead and a large handful of reall nice treats with you. Have a child in the room, sitting with an adult to control the child and not let him near the dog (perhaps reading the child a story). Bring Rango in to the far side of the room and talk to him gently, popping him lovely treats all the time. As he starts to settle give him a few more treats then take him out the room. As you leave the room it is vital that the treats stop. The association is that good things only happen when a child is in the room. Give him a 5 min break then repeat the process. When you feel he really is relaxed, take ONE step closer to the child and repeat. It is vitally important in situations such as this that you progress slowly towards the child and dont let the dog stress. This needs to be done over a few days and the dog must always be coping. When the dog and child are about 6' apart, contact me again and i will tell you what the next step is. If you can, do get a behaviourist to help you with this. Google animal behaviour consultants and find one in your area. This can be easily achieved, but things can go wrong as well and you dont want to make it worse. A professional will be knowledgeable about a dogs body language, early signs of stress and will know when to proceed and when to pull back. Good luck and do let me know how you go. Thanks Scotty

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