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Our new dog Vada has been with us for almost 2 months now. She is a rescue from the Humane Society and she was a stray. When we first got her she was nervous around people and dogs, but it was understandable. Over time she has gotten much better. We signed her up for a puppy class so she could socialize and ended up really enjoying it. She became much more at ease and found out that she loves other dogs. She is cautious around adults, but her curiousity overrides her fear and she warms up to people eventually.

Her problem is with children. She is quite terrified of children. We can go out on walks and the moment she even hears them she goes on high alert. Once she sees them she walks off to the side a bit more to try and put more distance between them. If they get too close she sometimes panics and yanks at the leash trying to scuttle away. Sometimes she barks at them as she tries to get away.

Just the day while going to her last puppy class (which is at Petsmart because there were no other places to take her) Vada got distracted during her walking practice by a child. She was keeping and eye outon the kid and we were explaining to the instructor that she is afraid of kids. So the instructor wants to see for herself and asks us to walk near the kids. So we get closer and she starts getting nervous. There 3 kids, two older and 1 younger. This instructor gives the littlest kid a dog treat and asks him to give it to Vada. Each step he took towards her she scooted furthur behind my legs on her butt. Once she couldn't go any furthur because of the leash she just huddled down and peed herself.

The poor pup has learned to ignore so many distractions on walks and going out, but she jsut can't handle kids. On walks when we see kids we stop and have her sit. When she calms down a bit we walk closer and have her sit over and over again. We don't know anyone where we live now so we can't borrow children. There are no parks of any kind, just playgrounds, which pets are not usually allowed on. The beach doesn't allow dogs either. Does anyone have ideas to help her with her fears?
 

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Maybe instead of a child giving her a treat, you give her one when she gets close to them. Maybe she'll associate children with "good things happen when I'm near them" without the added anxiety of actually taking it from a child?
I'm not 100% sure that would work, but it couldn't hurt.
 

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like above, just having them consistently more available will help. It will probably take a little bit more time, but if a kid in the neighborhood is willing to help out it could go faster, just give her treats when she relaxes near them, have them do the same. There may be a better suggestion but that could help as a start.
 

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Unfortunately she is too stressed and anxious to take treats. We also want to be careful not to reward her for being anxious and hiding or even barking at the kids. Even when she does finally sit in the open near kids she is never calm or comfortable to eat or play.
 

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She doesn't really care about anything coming from the tv. I think she knows nothing in the tv is really in the room so she just ignores it. She only sometimes watches it when she is tired and on the couch.
 

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Wish I could help more, but I don't really know much. I would have a child come and be around at a distance and just wait for her to finally relax, and just not let her focus or stare at the kid. We had a tv problem and it just took a lot of patience as far as waiting and trying not to reward the wrong behavior.

Good luck, she is so beautiful!
 

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Thanks, we are gonna try our best.

My husband is trying to find someone at his work that has kids and are willing to offer them up as a sacrafice :)
 

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If you can get a child to come, maybe do something like every time she looks at a child give her a treat? You're rewarding that behavior then, not the anxiety. Sorry I can't be more help though. Just trying to think of what I would do.
 

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I would treat this like you treat a person who has OCD. You need to slowly introduce the cause of the anxiety and leave it there until anxiety is lower or gone. Then greater levels are introduced slowly until the anxiety is removed to a suitable level. Rewards could be introduced at certain milestones but don't get too overboard on the rewards or the dog may confuse your reasoning for giving the reward (is he/she rewarding me for being fearful of the child?).
 

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On the downside that would mean treating her all the time because she is always looking at the child. She watches them at all times so she knows which direction to scoot in.
 

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Unfortunately she is too stressed and anxious to take treats. We also want to be careful not to reward her for being anxious and hiding or even barking at the kids. Even when she does finally sit in the open near kids she is never calm or comfortable to eat or play.
I have the same problem with my 3 month pup. She'll freak out around adults too. We spent the weekend at someone's house and she would whine if she had to go around them to get to me. She actually does better with people who act like she is not even there. She doesn't mind waiting beside me in a line of people as long as they don't reach down to pet. :/
 

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Well I have to say I did run into this with my current dog a Boxer when she was a young adolescent. What was happening was that (we live in a busy urban area next to a big city park-- lots of kids) when I saw kid in the distance I would shout at the dog to either stay in place or come-- but since I was panicking (worried that the dog might bump into the child, or even lick it and the parent would freak-- note this is a friendly sweet dog but like all young boxers off the wall exuberant and bouncy-- also disclosure we would sneak our dogs into the park and walk them off leash the only way to run off their energy but leading to many memorable homeless people in the bushes, fun syringe/needle close calls, as well as the occasional human poo and tissue paper mishap...) -- the dog would react. I found that very quickly she would tense up and alarm bark at the first sight of a child. This was bad as we had at the time a toddler... So eventually I learned to descalate MYSELF and stop tensing or panicking and give the commands calmly with lots of rewards and praise when the dog recalled-- I put the emphasis on the COMMAND not the child and the dog eventually resumed her previous nonschalance..
SO maybe I was thinking, you could work on your obedience with this shy dog and once she is pretty good with them, you practice some basics (sit, stay, down?) in the vicinity of say a playground in the distance and pretend like the kids arent there and try to neutralize the fear in that way-- also my ranch dog initially was too high strung as well to ever take treats (initally she is a chow hound now) but what she wanted was a squeak toy and we did puppy class with a squeaky as a reward instead of food!
Good luck! My boxer is now 12 and ended up earning her CGC- on a whim-- one afternoon we were at a dog fair and happened to walk by a certification station-- and of course she loves kids!
 

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Can you take her somewhere that kids are at a distance, and stop just inside her comfort zone, and sit and read a book, give her a really high value treat occasionally, then leave. Repeat, until you can gradually get a little closer, and do it some more. Keep doing it until she doesn't react when they are 8-10 feet away. Then have them toss her REALLY good treats, while not looking at her/talking to her. Eventually have them walk past her and drop a treat for her. Then have one sit with their back to her, and drop a treat behind them. Let her be the one to approach.

Or invite one calm child to your home (with their parent), and just have them sit in the family rm while you sit across the room with her on a leash, and let her eventually relax. Don't try to get her to approach child and don't have kid talk to her/try to approach her.

Rusty, who was a stray for 3 yrs, used to run from strangers or bark, but now, I can put him on a leash, and he'll just lay at my feet. Once he is relaxed, I can take his leash off, and he just ignores them, or will go sniff them. But it took a year to get him to that point.
 

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...since I was panicking the dog would react. I found that very quickly she would tense up and alarm bark at the first sight of a child. This was bad as we had at the time a toddler... So eventually I learned to descalate MYSELF and stop tensing or panicking and give the commands calmly...
We actually don't have a panic or tense problem on our end because there really isn't any reason for us to freak and its not really in our nature to panic. So we are good there.
We would try a toy, but food grabs her attention more than a toy does.

Can you take her somewhere that kids are at a distance, and stop just inside her comfort zone, and sit and read a book, give her a really high value treat occasionally, then leave.
There is actually a playground directly behind our house so she get exposure everyday. If there are many kids out she sometimes will wait til the last minute to even go potty. We usually have tostay out back until she is positive no kids can magically come through the fence before she goes about her business. Right the best we can do is when we see kids coming towards us on walks we step into a driveway or yard and have her sit while they walk by.

Then have them toss her REALLY good treats, while not looking at her/talking to her.
She will ignore all food. While she loves her treats, she has no problem passing them up. We usually just end up just verbally praising her and giving her a scratch on the head.

Overall its difficult to find children to work with. We live in a mildly strict area and you don't normally just start interacting with kids. Most kids her are not being supervised and there are some pretty young kids out too. Also kids don't understand her problem most of the times. Especially younger children who always yell "Look at the puppy/doggy!" and then when she barks scream "It's a mean doggy!"
My husband believes that maybe Vada was tormented by kids when she was a stray so thats why she is so terrified of them.
 
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