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Don't understand his reaction

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by Pam, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. Pam

    Pam Forums Enthusiast

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    Ok so had Beau at dog park yesterday, same one we always go to. Great playing with dogs. Mom sitting on bench with small child on her lap (maybe about 2?) Beau goes up to sniff them as most dogs do to people at park. He then jumps up (he really rarely to never jumps on people at all unless they have food, and not often then, and calms immediately) and mom turns child away but is nice and let's Beau sniff hands. He starts barking and jumping up more. I go and try to calm him down and get between him and child as mom seems to be getting worried. Beau goes around bench and starts to bark and jump more and tries to avoid me as Mom turned protectively and started to move away. The second I could get his collar, I got Beau and led him out of dog park. But he was reved up for a bit as we were leaving--calmed as we got to exit.

    Really unpredictable, and somewhat worrisome, reaction. He goes up to people all the time there both on and off bench. He is always calm and well-behaved, just sniffs and leaves. ADVICE?
     
  2. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    Has Beau been around children much? Dogs are not good at generalising, so don't always make the connection child=small human, must treat child like I should treat all humans. If that's the case one of two things happened: he didn't know what to do so he defaulted to barking at the problem; or he went this is how I treat puppies and children are like puppies.

    At any rate your reaction should be the same if you don't want to be on the receiving end of a complaint. Young Children around, he goes on lead, you put him into a sit, keep him distracted with food and if he doesn't react you tell him good boy and walk away and let him off lead, if he barks walk him away on lead until the child is out of sight and you can guarantee he won't go back there. Don't try taking him up to strange children just yet, get his focus at a distance and slowly decrease. It's a good exercise to practise if you know someone with a kid who won't mind, just don't have the kid giving him treats, it will make kids even more tempting (and you mentioned he can jump for treats) and you want to reward calm behaviour.

    Btw you definitely did the right thing removing him after that behaviour.
     
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  3. Pam

    Pam Forums Enthusiast

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    Hi, I didn't choose to have him off-lead around the child, he was in dog park playing with all the other dogs off-lead as always. Owners sit around on the benches, the mom with child was just another owner. But honestly the park doesn't allow children under 4 there, and I certain this child was younger than that, so actually she should not have been there.

    He does run into children on park walks and is usually very good, he normally will sit to be petted. Only time he doesn't is if they are on bikes. He has been around slightly older children a fair amount. He is mostly calm then, but can get barky especially if there are lots of fast bikes.
     
  4. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    I know it's frustrating if the child shouldn't be there, but we all know when something happens it's the dog that's punished. It's also going to be impossible to train him not to react to small children when he's off lead.

    Btw - dogs do react differently to children, toddlers and babies. My Tully loves babies, hates pre-schoolers, wary of kids under 10 - experience has taught her what ages she can trust.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
    Bailey's Mom likes this.
  5. Pam

    Pam Forums Enthusiast

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    Yes, I do understand that its the dog that's punished which is why I immediately intervened. I stay right on top of him at the dog park which is why I immediately saw what was going on and was able to intervene. But I cannot know when someone is going to bring a young child into the dog park nor can I have him on lead in there. BTW with the other children there, he is totally fine. I guess it was that she was so young and on the lap? Or maybe he sensed the mother's fear?
     
  6. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Forums Enthusiast

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    You can speculate endlessly, but there really is no way to no for certain why this child set him off. Kids smell differently, they can have food or other smells on their clothes that trigger a reaction. There really is no way of knowing why this child. You can't tell.

    Clearly you did the right thing in restraining the dog when he reacted to the child. The key will be to observe and watch him should other children appear in the park to protect him from any accusations. It would be nice if people followed age restrictions, but as others have said it is our animals that get punished when bad interactions occur it won't be a mother who brings her underage child into an off leash animal park, therefore it is important for you to be hyper observant.

    If you are concerned it might be worth bringing him around more kids to see if there is something specific that is triggering him that you can work on.
     
  7. Cara Sandler

    Cara Sandler Forums Enthusiast

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    However, if you are going to bring him around more kids, it might be helpful to have a trainer present to evaluate what's happening. The problem with doing an experiment to see if it happens again, is that Beau is getting to practice that behavior - which is clearly an unwanted behavior. The more times it happens, the harder it is to reverse. So it might be wise to have someone there who can intervene right then and there.
     
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