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Barking/Growling at children

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by hannahireland, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. hannahireland

    hannahireland New Member Registered

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    Hi all

    Maisy is a 7 month old cocker spaniel! She lives with us, a couple, at home and loves every visitor that comes into our house but she growls and barks at any children she sees out the window or passes on the street.

    We don't have any children in our family or immediate family so she just isn't used to children and we don't have any young children visitors to help her adjust.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to get her used to children?

  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    To a dog, children are not just miniature adults. They move differently and sound and behave quite differently too.

    Do you know any children that you can trust not to get scared if she barks?

    If so you could have them come to the house and completely ignore her barking. When she stops, they can pet her and reward her with a high value treat.

    If not, or you want to try something less arousing first, take her to a place like a reasonably big park where she can observe children from a distance. There will be a radius of space - children outside the zone are far enough away not to trigger a reaction, children inside the zone will. Keep her just outside the trigger zone and reward calm behaviour. Over several weeks you can work on reducing the distance.

    You can also train her to look at you, not the children. Any time she makes eye contact say a cue phrase (watch me) and mark and reward this. Once she understands what the cue means, you can ask for a 'watch me' while rewarding until they have passed. Squeezy cheese in a tube is good for this sort of reward as it let' you deliver lickable amounts over several seconds.
    leashedForLife and Flobo like this.
  3. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    Good advice from @JoanneF..
    Also when out and about dont be shy about telling people to control their children. Children can be quite scary they come charging over screaming and waving arms .. Just imagine if another adult did that to you. No wonder dogs react to them so dont be shy to ask parents to restrain their child.
    leashedForLife, JoanneF and Flobo like this.
  4. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    Hi, it's difficult as this is around children, and children also need to be trained,sorry taught, on how to be around a dog! Do you walk her in areas where children play and what is Maisy like if a child approaches her? Are there any other dog people that you speak to that may have children that are dog aware and could maybe help?
    leashedForLife and JoanneF like this.
  5. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    If any children look like they might approach her, stand in between them and her, to block them. She needs to know that they're not going to rush up to her squealing. For the same reason, even if you have access to a 'trained' child, I would hold back from letting them pet her unless she clearly wants to be petted. It's best she knows that she can safely ignore them. You might not even want them to give her treats, as once she's eaten the treat she's now very close to this scary 'thing' who doesn't have the added attraction of food any more.

    You could also give her a treat whenever you see any children - I did this with my dog at one point and he still sometimes looks at me if we walk past a child and close quarters because he wants his treat!

    You might find that even when you 'fix' the issue outside the house she still barks at them out the window, because dogs are very situational. Again, you could give her a treat whenever a child goes past, though there's a risk she'll be watching for children and keep coming to you for a treat when she sees one!
    leashedForLife likes this.
  6. Lucy2590

    Lucy2590 New Member Registered

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    Hiya, our 7 month old Frenchie has been doing the exact same thing so please share what works for you!

    We’ve been trying to get
    His attention when on a walk if we see a child with some praise on how well he’s doing walking which seems to prevent any growling/barking

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