Last night, I briefly watched our friends’ sweet two-year-old daughter, L.
As you may recall, Pyrrha has always been somewhat nervous around children, especially the younger ones (babies, toddlers). We don’t have kids, and while we have many friends with children, she is not very exposed to them. She tolerates older kids fine (quiet ones aged 7 and up), but the little ones frighten her. She once growled at an approaching four-year-old, and I removed her from the situation. I was so discouraged by that, because a.) we want to have kids one day ourselves, and b.) training out of fear with children is a very difficult thing. It’s not like you can walk up to the parent of a toddler and say, “Hey, my German shepherd is scared of kids! Can I let her sniff your baby?”
Anyway. L. came over and I had her in my arms, on my hip. Pyr got very excited and barked at L. With that, Pyr got relegated to the backyard while L. and I stayed inside. Pyrrha was naturally upset about this, but after about 15 minutes, I could hear that she stopped whining and fidgeting.
L. was sitting with me on the couch, and so I decided to carefully introduce Pyrrha back into the house. I put Pyr on a drag lead and brought her inside. L. sat on my lap and I let Pyrrha approach L. Pyrrha approached her cautiously, but then sniffed her hands and started licking them enthusiastically, which made L. giggle.
L. was eating some pretzel snacks and asked me (I think! Toddler-speak is hard for me to decipher!) if she could feed them to Pyrrha. I showed L. how to feed them to Pyrrha with a flat palm, and Pyrrha enthusiastically took all the snacks from L. without the slightest amount of fear.
I was very heartened. Food works wonders with our shy girl! L. was great with her, too; she let Pyrrha sniff and lick her and didn’t squeal or move in quick, sudden ways. It was a brief interaction — L.’s dad soon came back to pick her up — but a positive one.
How is your dog with small children? Do you have any training tips to accommodate a shy dog around kids?