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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here's a real life example that happened just this afternoon.

Wally and I going on our afternoon walk. Some kids are playing. Wally doesn't like kids, but I just keep going like nothing is wrong. I'm acting like usual, walking as usual, showing him the kids sounds aren't bothering me. He does fine until they see "such a cute little white doggy!" and the trio of them (all girls) come up to pet him.

He's trying to get away, but I tell him to sit and stay. He's right next to me, looking up at me like "We're gonna leave...right?"

"Of course, not" I think to myself and the kids come up. He's trying to skirm away, but I halt him. He lies down and the kids calmly pet him, ask me some questions about him like his name, gender, etc. One commented that she couldn't find his ears which made the other two laugh.

After a few minutes the kids went back to playing. Wally got up and looked at me, and we kept walking.

Now my question is:

-Should I have praised him and joined in the petting or did I do the right thing by staying quiet and just letting him "interact" with the kids and see for himself that they meant him no harm? I.E. my role in the encounter ended after I deemed it safe and told him - "We're staying here and will interact with them"

I've read conflicting thoughts on this and both angles make sense to me. One viewpoint is that the handler should stay quiet. All the handler's voice will do is pull the dog from the moment, which takes his mind from the fact he's to see that the situation he's in is not threatening. I rather want him to "find comfort in another human's voice/touch" as the book (I think it was a book - might have been one of the 100 sites I've visited since getting Wally) put it.

The other view point is that if he's interacting (or enduring in Wally's/a shy dog's case) with the situation, I should praise him because he's doing what I want and he can associate the situation as another chance to earn my praise and a reward.

Both views make sense. Both would seem to work for me and Wally. But which is the right one for optimal socialization and/or associating that kids <> you about to get eaten or whatever he thinks kids will do to him?

And I apologize for all the basic (and outright odd) questions...especially since I have a dog that's nearing 2 years old. All the books/sites I've read said he should be well beyond socialized at like 6 months :eek: so the poor dog is like 1 1/2 years behind. *sigh* It's just that curiosity + observing a dog in my life for the first time = lots of things I see and wonder about :)
 

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Socialization should always be done at the dogs pace/comfort level....letting the dog approach humans on their terms....not the other way around. Then comes the praise for showing confidence....not praising for enduring something the dog may very well not be comfortable with.
You should have had the girls stop several feet away and let Wally approach...or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Socialization should always be done at the dogs pace/comfort level....letting the dog approach humans on their terms....not the other way around. Then comes the praise for showing confidence....not praising for enduring something the dog may very well not be comfortable with.
You should have had the girls stop several feet away and let Wally approach...or not.
I've read that a lot too.

Wally's comfort level? I might as well stay home if there's a child even talking anywhere...no more walks for Wally because I can't imagine a time where there's no kids around.

There isn't really a "comfort" level for him. He hears a kid's voice, he gets super alert and tentative. He'll start shaking and get that "please get me out of here" look at me - even on his own yard.

If I let him not do anything because kids are around - I guess I should just put him in his crate and see if he wants to come out? I mean - if his own yard isn't even comfortable (say the kid walks by on the sidewalk - I can't exactly tell kids to "go way over there because I'm trying to socialize my dog" when they are on public ground). So I want him to not freak out because kids are walking near him. And they are gonna talk to him, or say "hey doggie!" in that high pitched voice of theirs.

I mean, yeah, I don't want to push him - but the "let the dog avoid it until he wants to not avoid it and tell everyone else to walk at a 10 foot radius to the dog" doesn't seem practical in all situations.
 

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Calmy tell people and children not to touch your dog, tell them he is shy.

Until you can get past the point of him walking calmly while children play around him, there should be no letting people pet him.

If you were afraid of dogs, you wouldn't want to be thrown into a room with 3 of them, you would want to take it at your own pace, not a forced pace. Sometimes forcing someone or something to do something they are afraid of, only makes them more afraid.

You are his protector, it's your job to make sure he can rely on you to not let his fear get to close to him until he is comfortable with it. Holding him in place and letting children pet him is showing him you are not there to keep him safe. A lot of times when a dog realizes there is no point in looking towards their leader for guidance because the leader does not protect them, they make decisions on their own.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Calmy tell people and children not to touch your dog, tell them he is shy.

Until you can get past the point of him walking calmly while children play around him, there should be no letting people pet him.

If you were afraid of dogs, you wouldn't want to be thrown into a room with 3 of them, you would want to take it at your own pace, not a forced pace. Sometimes forcing someone or something to do something they are afraid of, only makes them more afraid.

You are his protector, it's your job to make sure he can rely on you to not let his fear get to close to him until he is comfortable with it. Holding him in place and letting children pet him is showing him you are not there to keep him safe. A lot of times when a dog realizes there is no point in looking towards their leader for guidance because the leader does not protect them, they make decisions on their own.

Again - they don't have to touch him. He could just hear their voices and not even SEE them, and get nervous. And - again - I can't just tell people to get of the sidewalk because they happened to come out of their house while we were walking by, etc.

I get that I shouldn't let people pet him - however, how can I "protect" him from people going about their business? From kids playing down the street and he can hear their voices?

Should I just him earmuffs? How do you "protect" from sound? I don't know how to begin to do that.

I mean, he can be in the house and get flaky if he hears kids. Doesn't get much more protection than a roof and four walls?
 

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I agree with Pepper and TooneyDogs. Standing there and letting the kids -- several kids -- pet him and talk to him against his will is basically flooding, which generally isn't very successful in curing phobias. Wally may flake out when he's at home and he hears a kid's voice, but that's nothing to the intense fear and vulnerability he's feeling when he actually sees them or is forced to interact with them. The escalation of his discomfort will show in his body language.

If you're out on a walk and you see kids, watch Wally carefully. Don't just play the confident boss and march right through. That can often be the solution to less severe fear issues but I really don't think it will help in this one. If you can get the kids to cooperate, ask them to stop at a distance away. If Wally approaches, praise him; if he doesn't, turn and walk in the opposite direction. If you can't get the kids to cooperate with his training, you should politely inform them that your dog bites (even if he doesn't) and walk away.

At home, there's not much you can do. Don't coddle him when he flakes out about hearing a child's voice; just leave him be. The desensitisation needs to be gradual and this is pretty much the lowest level you can start at.
 

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I'm going to act as nonchalant as possible but I am not going to let anybody pet my dog until I think dog is ready. If you have to, you drive to mall parking lot, park, your car is the base of operations. Pup out of car you walk, you keep yourself within range of car so you can walk to car and load dog before kids etc attack. I realize kids can be a pain in the butt so you take their petting/touching program out of their control. This is just one option.
 

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Find some kids you know and have them help, so that you can tell them what to do and not feel like you're offending them. (Of course, make sure the parents are ok with it)

Maybe have them play in the yard so he can just barely hear them and see them through the window, but they're not close. Would that bother him too much?

Sadie was afraid of kids so I take her to the store every day and first I just clicked and rewarded for looking at them walking from far away. Then a bit closer. Then reward for walking past them. then walking up to them, then sniffing them, then letting them pet. Now most of the time when she sees a kid she walks up and sniffs them. She's only still scared when they swoop in.
 

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Work at the distance of first arousal/apprehension. That might be 100 yards away at first. Ask the dog for something simple like a sit then, praise and treat. Why the sit? To test the dogs arousal state to the sight or sound....if you're too close chances are Wally won't sit....would much rather run away.
But, here's what you're really after: to make the sight (or sound) of kids pleasant....change his perceptioin of kids one thing at a time. If he's really, really nervous about kids you might want to work on just the sound of kids from behind a fence, behind a building....somewhere that Wally can't see them. Don't try to overcome both the sight and sound of kids at the same time unless they are really far away.
So, how to make it pleasant? Food, games, chase, tag, favorite squeaky toy, petting....whatever your dog enjoys. Teach him that good things happen when kids around.
One caveat; if your dog doesn't like petting...even from you/or, only from you...then it would be unreasonable to expect Wally to eventually like petting from kids.
 
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