A positive experience with a toddler!

Queen of all she surveys
In the yard, before L. came over.

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?

Pup links!

Chihuahua mix on the bed. Source: SF Girl by Bay

Two little Pyrrha stories from today:

Story One: On our  morning walk, we met a man and his super-handsome, studly 18-month-old German shepherd (big ol’ head, definitely from European lines), Zuma. Pyrrha might not be a breed-ist after all, because she was terrified of him. He was very friendly and gregarious, but her tail was tucked and her lips were curled back in a snarl… and YET. She kept rushing up to him to sniff him. What is that about?? She was very interested in him and didn’t want to walk away from him… but her posture and facial expression was one of utter terror/fear aggression. What does this mean? How do I combat it?

Story Two: After I walked out the door to go to work, I had to come back in a few seconds later, to give my husband his keys. Normally, when I leave for work in the morning, Pyrrha watches from the window with a tight (I read it as sad) expression. However, when I unexpectedly walked back in the door this morning, she was OVERJOYED to see me. Actually jumped in the air toward me! (Never seen that before.) Wiggling and wagging all over the place, totally ecstatic that I was “back” from work after 10 seconds… Made it really, really hard to get back in that car. I do love our special-needs shy dog; she keeps the emphasis on the special.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

The Power of a Walk. My thoughts exactly, Kristine! I was feeling this way so much this morning, about how calming and centering it was to begin my day outdoors with my dog at my side. (Rescued Insanity)

Exposing a Shy Dog to New Experiences. Now there’s an inventive socialization endeavor: Kayaking! I really have no idea how Pyrrha would react to that… Looks like it went well for Pager, though! (Peaceful Dog)

Dogs in Need of Space. A helpful poster for “DINOS.” I feel like we’ve all kind of been there with shy dogs before… If only more people could see this! (Will My Dog Hate Me?)

A Poppy Weekend. A recap of a weekend exposing Sage to a toddler. This sounds like a good idea. Pyrrha is OK with older children, but toddlers make her very nervous. How did you expose your shy dog to very young kids in a safe, controlled way? (The Misadventures of Sage)

Learning to “Speak Dog”: Why You Should Care about Understanding Your Dog. I loved this post, because it felt like a recap of everything I learned and read in this past year. A helpful, easy-to-read synopsis of why it matters that we understand our canine companions. (Tails from the Lab)

Dog Camping Heaven in Upstate New York. Um, can we go NOW? This looks incredible. Have you ever taken your dog to a place like this? (Go Pet Friendly)

Able Mabel, Revisited. These photos of this fit, healthy bulldog are so encouraging to me. Now this is what bulldogs should be able to do! Run around and play and breathe naturally. (Pedigree Dogs Exposed)

Fresh Dog. This sounds like an interesting product: Dry shampoo for dogs. Especially intriguing since Pyrrha detests baths… Do you think it would work? I’m intrigued. (Pretty Fluffy)

Wacky for Watermelon. These photos crack me up. And I tried it today with Pyrrha, too! She may not have Pixel’s level of obsession with watermelon, but she was definitely very fond of it–especially since our temperatures soared to 97 F today. (Many Muddy Paws)