Afraid of Kids

Discussion in 'Bernese Mountain Dog Training Forum' started by k1cart, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. k1cart

    k1cart Member

    We have a 5 1/2 month old Berner and he is generally fine with adults and other dogs but he is very afraid of kids.

    We had to go to the vet the other day and he almost backed out of his collar because he didn't want to go into the building due to a 18 month old or younger child walking around.

    We don't have any kids and neither do our friends at this phase in our lives so I'm not sure how to expose him to children or the proper technique to do so.

    I don't want him to be afraid of any people and I know kids can be scary to dogs that aren't around them often.

    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
  2. BernerRescue

    BernerRescue New Member

    This is very common in the breed if they were not socialized properly to something - whatever that something may be. Berners do not typically like erratic unpredictable people in general and this is most kids.

    It is not too late to start socializing but you may never get back that opportunity to have him truly ok with kids - more like tolerant and not fearful is now the goal.

    To this end, positive reinforcement (and I recommend clicker training) is key. Have quiet, calm kids slowly approach and click and treat when they do. Timing is everything so when he sees a child, click and treat the moment his brain processes seeing that child.

    You should be finding kids in the neighborhood to assist with this - or taking him to playground that are not too busy or populated (just a few kids) and at a safe distance, start counter conditioning him with treats and positive reinforcement. Slowly move him closer to the children as he grows more comfortable with the distance - he will show you what his threhold distance is and work with his distance acceptance.

    Eventually, have the kids toss treats in his direction so he sees that good things come from these crazy little monsters. Then as he grows more confident, the kids should be able to gradually get closer and start handing him the treats. This is the ultimate goal but be patient.

    This also goes for strollers, skateboards, ceiling fans, rolling trash cans, garbage trucks and the list goes on....socialization is key between 8-16 weeks of age or you can end up with a lot of fear issues.

    Good luck!

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