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I realised today that although Ruby has never bitten me or anyone else, even in play, she will occasionally dart her head towards the hand if something is happening that she isn't sure about, or is overexcited about.

For example, I am trying to socialise her as much as I can, including with children. She loves all people, wants to say hello to everyone, but gets especially excited about children, I guess because of their size and quick movement. I have a friend who has 3 children, 7, 4 and 3. I know they are small, but honestly everyone around here seems to have children under 10, I rarely see one older! I had them meet Ruby for the first time yesterday (would have preferred just the eldest for now, but these kids come as a pack!). I had them sit about 3ft from where me and Ruby were sat, and told hem to stay still and sit on their hands, not to pet her or make any noise, just to let her sniff around them, and because they were sitting she couldn't jump up like she would with an adult.

I have found that she very quickly calms down and sits if she gets no attention, but as soon as there is any movement she is up and jumping again (Except with me, which just means I have to find more people to practice it on. With me, she does her initial stand up with her paws resting on me, which is just to get her nose as high as possible, it isn't ever a jump anymore with me. After that she goes straight into a sit until I praise/pet her)

Anyway, back to the children! They did well for a minute and Ruby was really calm, just checking them out, when the little one suddenly reaches out to pet her. Ruby wasn't expecting a hand coming towards her face and lunges forward to sniff at it. She always sniffs a hand coming towards her, but she tends to sniff with her mouth open at least a little, especially as it is getting hotter here. So, of course the kids shrieks and jumps away before she is able to sniff him. She is startled and wants to follow him (he looked like such a good toy after that :p)

My problem is that if a child jumped the wrong way, or kept reaching towards her their hand could easily end up inside her mouth without it being her fault at all. And then there is always the possibility that she would put pressure on it because of being surprised.

I have never had any problem with her sniffing/licking my hand. She does it a lot, occasionally "looking with her teeth" but never with any pressure at all. She seems to have a very soft mouth and is gentle with everything, including taking treats. Even if I hide a treat in my hand she will give it a few licks, maybe tap at it with a paw, then sit and wait for me to give it to her. Today she put the tiniest bit of pressure on my hand when licking it, so I followed the instructions in one of the stickies here. I yelped and turned away from her. I know people suggest going to another room, but this is quite an open-plan apartment and I have always found just turning to be very effective with her. If she comes around in front of me I turn the other way and I ignore her if she nudges me. Then I turned back to her and offered her my hand again. She was very definitely checking I was ok, she tapped it with her paw to see both sides and licked it, and I praised her. She was so cute about it!

Ok, so after that I remembered reading that even if a dog has never bitten, if something happened they might not know not to use any pressure without having been taught bite inhibition.

So, a few questions.

1. What could I do better in introducing her to children, other than one at a time and starting with older children. Should I have a physical restraint on her (her leash) in case of a similar situation where the kid jumps up and she wants to follow? She is used to having a leash on inside so it wouldn't be anything strange to her, just a precaution. I am only worried about her jumping on the child, which I will work on the same way I taught her not to jump on me for attention, as soon as I find a willing, slightly bigger child to start with!

2. Did I react correctly when I felt the pressure? That is the first time she has used any pressure, and it was not used to hurt me or warn me, she was just looking at my hand, like she often does.

3. How do I teach bite inhibition when she doesn't use pressure? I always praise her lots for being gentle on my hand and taking treats gently.


Thanks for any help/advice you can give me.
 

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She's already showing great bite inhibition and you're doing all the right things.....Good for you! Don't confuse a reflex action (head jerking around) with intent to bite.
Nice control of the children for the introductions but, the reality is kids aren't going to be sitting on their hands so, the dog has to learn how to properly meet kids in their 'natural' state. I would have the kids move around but, have them walk like young ladies and gentlemen (no running, waving arms, reaching for the dog, etc.).
Teach the kids to not stare at the dog, grab for her or tease her...even playfully. Show them how to pet a strange dog...offerring the back of their fist so she can sniff them and then they can pet her on the chest (not the head or back).
 

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Don't confuse a reflex action (head jerking around) with intent to bite.
I just meant that if by circumstances the kids hand ended up in her mouth (because her mouth is open most of the time) and she was surprised... I know she wouldn't be intending to hurt, she is just playful! I was lucky to get a dog with such a soft mouth :D

Thanks for the advice, I am going to try and get the oldest girl to help me as she will be better at following instructions... for the younger two I had them sitting on their hands to reduce the impulse to reach out to her, until she was used to them enough to go further.

And, the chest instead of the back? Is that so they aren't reaching over her?

Thanks again, I know that was a lot to read!
 

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And, the chest instead of the back? Is that so they aren't reaching over her?

That and the patting/petting on the head and back can be viewed by some dogs as an attempt to dominate.
 

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Just one other little thing that can set dog awry and escalate nothing into something is a kid's squeal. I know you are already aware of this but if you get a dog's open mouth, a squeal and then the child's hand pulling back quickly 1 + 1 + 1 = a prey movement. I don't think you have any problems, I just like to confuse the issue a little.
 
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