My sister just moved back to town with her 2 kids, but my dog Muttley is petrified of children. I can’t take the chance of having them visit. What should I do? Thank you, Pat.
How exciting your sister and children are back. You must be so happy about that…except for the dog issue of course. There’s no reason you can’t have them over to your home, but there are things you’ll have to take care about.
First of all never punish your dog, it’s not the right way to deal with any behaviour issue. The second thing is, do not leave Muttley alone with the kids.
The best thing to do is put him in a room when they come to visit and either close the door, or use a baby gate so he can still see what’s going on. You and your sister have to make it very clear to the children, they are not allowed to open the door or put their hands over the gate. Always keep them in your sight.
You don’t say if Muttley is fearful of children outside as well, or how his fear manifests itself, but there are steps you can take to help desensitise him to kids, and at least make him a little less anxious.
For this training you’ll need to enlist the help of some kids. Take Muttley out on a leash, and at a distance far enough from the kids where he won’t react, but close enough to see them, have them toss his favourite treats, one at a time. You want him to start to learn that great things happen when he sees children, namely the food he loves the most. This is something you’ll practice regularly, a few times per session.
Even when you reach the point where he’s calmer around them, never leave him unattended.