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So...my Elkhound has always been a people lover. He loves dogs, he loves people....but something about small children does not seem to go over well with him. He likes them, but he is a bully.

Or rather, he is a bully to children who are scared of him.

He is good with the neighbor kids who have big dogs (because those kids aren't scared and like big dogs). I noticed he lunges at the small children who approach him and are nervous of him, flapping their hands around by their faces and such. I've once seen him snap at a child who was very afraid (he can be mouthy, has his mouth open all the time) because they put their hands in his face and jerked their hands away violently. These are usually children who don't have dogs or have little 5 lbs dogs and don't know how to act around strange dogs.

I literally have to hold him away and tell the children to stop trying to pet his face. Why a scared child would try to pet the face of a dog they are afraid/nervous of is beyond me, but they do it anyway. My dog will lay down if I prompt him to (I will direct a nervous child to pet his back if they insist on petting the 'furry dog') but the moment I let go of his collar, he will turn and try to grab the child.

What can I do? Is this common behavior in large game hunting breeds? He acts this way with scared dogs as well, he will chase scared/nervous dogs. It makes me nervous since so many people around me have children who did not grow up with dogs and want to pet him, but they are so scared that he picks up on it. These children will come up to us on walks or onto my property, he is always on leash so it seems to make it worse.

Should I just tell these children he does not like to be touched so they stay away? My dog feeds off of their fear, it's almost like a game to him. He is only 1.5 years old, so maybe he will grow out of this, but he has grown up in a child free home. Not quite sure what sort of training I can do with this? I'm getting too scared of letting him be around kids and I REALLY do not like nervous kids coming near him :(

As I've stated before, he is good with confident kids, no issue. If the child is nervous/scared, putting their hands up in their face, throwing their hands up in the air, jerking away from him quickly, it's bad mojo. If I can visually see they are nervous, he certainly knows they are.

Has anyone else dealt with this situation? Anyone who does not have children in their home?
 

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I wouldn't let my dog have contact with children or people in general, when I think either one is scared or nervous.
I'm not sure if this would have the dog to experiences the contact with strangers as something positive.
the dog should be in the right mindset (safe, relaxed, calm) when meeting a new person, in my opinion.
 

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Hi, I had sortof a similar issue with kids. My dog is now 13 months old, and still not perfect in this area, but has improved. When he was younger - When there was a small kid staring and staring at him (usually 3 yr old kid or younger), he would start to bark at them. I've 'fixed' this with counter conditioning - when I see a kid do this, and my dog start to look at the kid, I click and treat (I have a clicker). He has learned that a kid staring at him is a positive thing.

He is super good with kids approaching him calmly and petting him. I am still cautious, and feed him while he is being petted sometimes so he continues to associate this little human with positive things.

BUT...I've had kids screaming at the top of their lungs AND running towards him (wanting to meet and pet him), and he goes ballistic and starts lunging and barking on the lead. I imagine most dogs will react in this situation. I abruptly tell the kids to not come closer and continue on my walk.

Anyways, for your situation, I think it'd be a good idea for you to bring special treats with you to give to your dog when your dog is with kids. Continue holding the collar if you are confident he cannot grab the kid and give him these treats in rapid succession while the nervous kid is near. This will serve to both distract him from the kid and slowly desentisize him to these situations. Keep the interaction with kids short until he can handle it more and more.

Hope that helps.
 

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I'm also one to not allow interaction if it's not going to be a nice experience for both involved. It's just as important for kids to understand they don't get to pet every dog as it is how to be polite and gentle with dogs. Similarly, part of socialization for dogs is teaching how to behave around people (no greeting involved), not just interacting directly with people. It' really is OK to say ''Thank you for asking, but no."

If you feel you must allow these kids to interact with your dog, then consider having them ask your dog to do one of his favorite tricks and then have the child toss or drop a treat as a reward rather than petting. Ime keeps the interaction lower pressure (holding a dog still while kids pet can be stressful and unplesant) and more likely to be enjoyable for both the dog and kid. If a kid can't follow directions or accept this as opposed to petting, then probably not the type of kid you want to allow your dog to interact with anyway!:)
 
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