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Dog terrified of toddler

(5 Posts)
Septbaby Fri 15-Apr-16 21:31:39

Hoping that someone might have been through this before and could offer some advice...

We have a lovely GSD bitch who is 6, and a DS who is 19 (crazy) months. GSD has always been a challenge, think constant reminder of rules and always pushing to see if the rules buckle and not a massive fan of other dogs, however she has always been incredible with people and children. However I think our complete hurricane child is just too much for her to cope with, she accepted him so well as a tiny baby and even up to the point where he started walking there were no problems, but she just seems so fearful of him now and it's so sad.

We are teaching him very clear boundaries with her; gentle touching, he isn't allowed on her bed, no climbing on her, her toys are her toys etc and often encourage him to give her treats to 'sweeten' the deal between them. But the noise and the level of nut-casery is counteracting all this work, and explaining this to a dog or a 19 month is like talking to a wall (head in hands).

Today when my DH took them both for a short walk DS had a bit of a tantrum on the way home and GSD hid behind a total stranger to get away from it all, when DH told me this I burst into tears with sadness for her.

Other info - she is fully exercised at least twice a day, she is in good health just a slight eye condition which is being treated and we include her in as much as we physically can (days out etc). Also they are never left alone together, we have stair gates to separate them and allow her some quiet space in the kitchen when it's needed.

Would really appreciate some advice on what we could do differently, getting rid of her is not an option, she's a huge part of our family and we only use reward based training.

Thanks so much to anyone who can help flowers

TheoriginalLEM Fri 15-Apr-16 21:47:37

oh, this is a difficult one.

If she had growled at your DS i would have been less worried to be honest.

Is there a family member who could foster her until your DS grows a little and will be less of a worry for her?

I work in a vets and in my experience the dog most likely to bite me is the dog cowering behind its owners legs.

I wish i could be more optomistic but GSDs tend towards nervous as they are highly intelligent.

How is she generally? has she shown signs of stress around your DS?

Whale eye (the white of her eye showing?)
Looking away?
licking her lips?
Shaking as if shaking water off?
generally tense in her body?

Septbaby Fri 15-Apr-16 23:15:32

Hiya, thank you for responding, genuinely she isn't worrying me in that I can read her body language very well through many years of behaviour training, I'm not saying I trust her implicitly but she isn't worrying me in that I feel she is dangerous. She also removes herself from a room or situation if it's too much for her, which we encourage and are teaching DS not to follow her.

They do have some very lovely moments together playing nicely and she'll happily give his hands a lick if he's got some crumbs on them smile it just seems to be stressful for her when he's at his noisiest either through happiness or tantrum.

I'm going to reach out to our old trainer and see what we can be doing differently, going to get the old kong back out and use it as a positive distraction when needed; just want to try to give her as much positive association as possible.

We don't have any one that could foster and I wonder if that might cause her more upset, but thank you so much for replying xx

Greyhorses Sat 16-Apr-16 07:44:06

Septbaby I don't have much advice but just wanted to give you some support as I have a GSD who is scared of life too so I know how you feel. Mine is terrified of everything and everyone and we have worked on her for months and months but its so hard to train fear, I do think its a shepherd trait in some sadly!

We consulted a behaviouralist and what has helped with us is teaching her that she has a safe space to retreat too and nobody will bother her there. We made it fun with lots of toys/kongs and antlers which she loves and made it so nobody can get near her. When someone is coming we put her there and she knows she does not need to be defensive and seems to calm down. We had to make it so nobody who she was frightened of ever touched her there. Obviously not as easy for you as its your Ds but maybe you could try a crate or something away from your son where she can't be interacted with and she feels safer? Sometimes they love a crate with a blanket over it to make it dark and calm that is filled with toys. You could try playing music or something so it muffles the sound a bit?

We also did lots of bat training, so for example playing loud noises or screaming babies grin on a recording and then treating lots when she relaxed so she learnt that noise=treats and fuss and good things. I think it's so hard though as one negative experience sets them straight back to square one. For example mine is scared of strangers and we have tried to teach her that strangers won't approach her and treating her for positive behaviour, but one day someone did touch her and it took months to get back to where we were! They are so intelligent and remember everything!

I hope they get along better soon sad

TheoriginalLEM Sat 16-Apr-16 08:05:35

It's good that she isn't generally worried by DS presence. Its just the noise then. So again, distract distract - make the noise OK by positive association. Excellent idea to go back to old trainer. Sounds like you are on top of things and that they will become the best of friends.

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