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Hi there, I have a 19 month old border collie mix. She's not a big fan of people but she never shows aggression and will approach people but shies away from being touched by most strangers. She'll play ball with them all day long but won't approach a person she doesn't know well for any sort of physical contact. She will play games with children but same deal, doesn't want to be pet by them. We've noticed some very strange behavior with kids though. If a child is picked up by a parent the dog seems to get very anxious and will start barking and jumping up and nipping around the child being held by the parent. She'll also show the same reaction if a parent or adult hugs a child or is in close physical contact with the child. Anyone have any thoughts or ideas as to how I could deal with this behavior or why the dog is exhibiting this sort of behavior around a child? Thanks in advance for any feedback.
 

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This sounds protective to me.. like she wants them to put the child down...
 

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I can't find the link, but I think I read recently that dogs can see hugging as intimidating. Sorry I can't find the info for you!
 

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I don't think this is protective. Its more like she is feeling very anxious about the situation and wants it to stop. As a herding dog, the nipping and barking is her way of trying to change what is going on.

One way to deal with this is to give her treats anytime she is around children, to get her more used to the kids. (you are building a positive association.) Put her on a leash and reward her for calm behavior in these circumstances. Don't force her to endure being touched by strangers... if she cannot get away, she may feel scared enough to nip in self defense.
 

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And yes, dogs do find hugging intimidating, but that is when they are being hugged... its waaay too smothering for many dogs! They don't all understand that in the primate world hugging is affection. In the dog world that sort of contact would be seen as a threat.
 

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I don't think this is protective. Its more like she is feeling very anxious about the situation and wants it to stop. As a herding dog, the nipping and barking is her way of trying to change what is going on.

One way to deal with this is to give her treats anytime she is around children, to get her more used to the kids. (you are building a positive association.) Put her on a leash and reward her for calm behavior in these circumstances. Don't force her to endure being touched by strangers... if she cannot get away, she may feel scared enough to nip in self defense.
ditto this, my dog has a very similar reaction to anyone touching/hugging/high-5ing or anything like that, it becomes a bit more intense if it is a little kid...



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Interestingly, one of my dogs gets very "activated" if I pick up the cat. He's always been this way. And the other dog gets very "activated" if the one dog starts playing too rough with the cat. This is all very similar to what you are describing about holding a child. To Be Honest, I have not fully sorted out yet what is going on in their doggy brains! ;-)
 
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