How to Help a Puppy Stop Being Afraid of Kids

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: July 27, 2017

Lucy is a nine-month-old Miniature Schnauzer puppy who lives in Omaha. Her guardian set up a puppy behavior training session to help Lucy stop being scared of children.

The primary behavioral concern was Lucy’s fear of kids. Lucy would lunge and bark at kids if they came close to her. Sometimes Lucy’s guardian would try to soothe Lucy when she was reacting to kids by petting her. When we pet our dogs, we are reinforcing that behavior; in this case, if Lucy is being petted when she barks at kids, she will continue to bark at them. The guardian will want to use Petting with a Purpose, to reward Lucy for good behavior.

Her guardian had already incorporated many great dog training tricks such as, having guests give Lucy treats when coming to their home and asking older kids to give Lucy treats when meeting her. However, this didn’t help Lucy stop barking at kids in general. Since we didn’t have kids to work with during our session, I asked Lucy’s guardian if there were other things that she would react to.

Lucy was reactive to the sound of a doorbell, so I used the counterconditioning method to help her gain self control. Her guardian can also use this method to stop her from being scared of kids. You can see how we did this in the video below.

When making the transition from a sound Lucy reacts to, to a visual cue, such as kids running around, you will want to be far enough away from the kids so Lucy will sit and nibble on a treat comfortably. For positive dog training, slowly decrease the distance between the kids and Lucy over time.

By the end of the session, Lucy was looking to her guardians for leadership and gaining self control. To help Lucy keep up this good behavior we wrapped up the session with Lucy’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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