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Is it normal for dogs to act like this?

July 4th, 2004, 07:06 PM
We have been working with Molly to stop growling and snapping at everyone who walks by and huge progress has been made. She now, ignores or sniffs curiously, no longer showing any fear.

BUT...she absolutely hates children and little old people. We have been taking her through the park and she sees tons of people, no response. However, if she were to see a young child, infant or frail senior citizen walk by she becomes almost vicious. Even in the car, we'll be sitting at a red light and she'll see an elderly man using a walker to cross the street and she'll go ballistic. It's really embarrassing :o

Knowing this we take extra care to distract her with treats and toys but I have no idea why she seems to hate certain types of people. It's not the typical fear she used to have, more of an intense dislike. Is this normal?

July 4th, 2004, 07:40 PM
Some dogs have fears of unusual things.

The walker probably makes a noise she doesn't like.

Sadie hates bouncing large balls ie soccer or basketballs and despises rollerblades and skateboards with a passion.
Slowly desensitize to it through exposure little by little. Don't reassure or pat her when she's afraid. It only lets her know that things are to be feared and she's right to feel that fear.

It takes time, nothing works overnight.

Dogs can tell when someone is fearing them or timid. Sadie loves everyone BUT if she senses that you are afraid she will either hide behind me, try to get away from that person or bark.

They just need to know that there's nothing to fear.

Like this kid on my street he is a little afraid of Sadie because her snout is very long, he says it makes them look mean. Sadie knows he is afraid so she gets afraid and then they're both afraid. So every now and then I stop by with some treats for him to give to her. Eventually I'll let him come on a walk with us and she'll get used to him.

Don't DISTRACT her because she thinks she is being rewarded for behaving this way.

It's different with this kid giving Sadie the treat because I'm showing her there is nothing to fear from 'him'! Only good things happen.

BUT if your dog is being afraid and you just give treats and rewards for no reason, you are reinforcing the fear.

Just introduce things slowly. :D

Lucky Rescue
July 4th, 2004, 09:13 PM
Right Luba!!

Knowing this we take extra care to distract her with treats and toys

You do not distract her with the treats. She gets the treats ONLY when she does not react badly. Example: kid is walking along. You say "Molly Sit...Watch me"..she sits and does not growl or lunge. Then give treat.

Also, I would use extra special delicious treats (Hot Rods or something she loves) that she gets ONLY when she does not react to people on the street.

Her thinking should be "I see people on the street and that means I get wonderful treats.But if I growl, I get nothing. Therefore, kids on the street are GOOD!"

But you must give the commands BEFORE she starts reacting. Once she is freaking out, you have lost control.

I initially had a major problem with my dog. She wanted to KILL all skateboards, roller blades and bikes. The fact that there were people attached to these made this look very bad, although I know she barely noticed the people - just wanted those noisy fast turning wheels.

I used commands (sit, heel etc) treats and toy thing, in addition to the "Watch ME" command, and now bikes can whiz right past her head and she reacts not at all. I still praise her for ignoring them, although I no longer give treats.

Well, she STILL wants to kill my lawnmower, but no one's perfect! :D

July 4th, 2004, 10:10 PM
My mother's dog hates childern too - usually around the age of 8-12 or so. When the dog was young my mother used to let the kids walk her when they were as horse shows, she thinks one of them may have stepped on her - or something of the sort - would your dog have ever had a bad experiance with a child or smaller person? The process of retraining would be the same anyway, but it sometimes helps to know why they react the way they do.