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Fear of babies/toddlers?

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Totally new thing for my girl. Starting her out on her walk was lovely, as usual, and then came the toddlers in strollers with their moms.


First she was curious....then skittish...then, while on the leash, literally tried to bolt - to run and hide. Now, I know my puppy's body language and she was truly afraid :rolleyes: . I've never seen her afraid before!


So, after that, for the rest of the walk, she was fearful and stubborn and ears perked watchful as I'd never seen her. Usually when we go to the grass where I let her run around she goes crazy. A bundle of energy and full speed ahead. This time I could barely get her interested and she just lied down :D .


It was really odd.


Any thoughts?

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Guest WoobiesMom

Welcome to my world! Kids are Woobie's greatest fear. Kidnap one and cover it in Ball Park Franks! Just kidding. It's a tough one, especially if you don't have small children around to work your dog with. It remains one of our biggest challenges. I just don't have any friends with small kids and it's kinda hard to ask total strangers to have their kids do the kind of things that would be necessary to work through the issues. Good luck!

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Since it has never happened before, what I personally would do is to give the puppy some distance from children for the time being. If she seems comfortable with children from a distance, I would gradually move her closer (over a period of weeks, not days!) and see if that comfort continues.


It may have just been something unfamiliar - the stroller, etc. - that threw her off this time.


However, if she seemed uneasy even at a distance, I would start doing some desensitization/counter conditioning with her.


Children are a tough one. Speedy has always been afraid of children and I've never known anyone with the type of children that I could have set up desensitization sessions with. He is fine with children who are quiet and under control, but children who are running around screeching bother him. I have chosen to manage the situation rather than train him through it because we had so many other things to work through and we really don't come across very many children of the sort he is truly afraid of.


What I would avoid doing, though, is trying to push the puppy into proximity to children. That might work for some dogs, but for others it will make it worse.


If you find that she is comfortable with them at a bit of a distance and you gradually move closer, that is the time to have children start tossing balls and treats for her. I would take time to guage the comfort level, though.


Chances are it was a one time thing, but if not I would take care to reintroduce her to small children slowly. Especially if she is going to come into contact with them frequently.

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From a dog's perspective, it makes total sense that kids and babies are scary. They're at eye level. They often make jerky, fast movements (sometimes in the direction of the dog) and have high pitched voices and/or scream. They probably smell different from adults too. And if you (naturally) feel tense when they act scared, this can reinforce the fear. I'd find every opportunity to make the association positive - mellow kids, great treats, play, etc. depending upon your dog. I would not force kids on your dog or v.v. When this is not possible, I'd do as Kristine suggests and keep a comfortable distance. FWIW, I still snag my older dogs away from really hyper kids, or at least only allow one or two dogs out with them so that I can observe and control the situation, even though they like kids.



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FWIW, my dog used to be freaked out by toddlers and/or babies. Seeing them carried around in backpacks and stuff, I honestly think Buddy thought these were 2-headed humans he was looking at. Then, at the local park, we started passing lots of kids in strollers, and frequently they liked "doggy" and were happy to pass Buddy a treat. In short order, Buddy began to see strollers as rolling treat dispensers, and now he's happy to see toddlers. I still watch very carefully, simply because I don't trust the motions kid would make or my dog's reaction to them... but the treat dispenser system helped a lot. I don't personally have any small kids in my life, but was able to casually bond with a few moms at the park. They like seeing their kid exposed to a safe dog as much as I like seeing my dog exposed to safely contained kids. :rolleyes:


Good luck.



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I'm noticing that my crew are freaked out by my grandsons crawling. Bt if he's on 2 legs instead of 4 they aren't bad. I was wondering if they see him as something other than human when crawling around really fast on 4 legs?

We had a small toddler over last night. I only let Mick out so the tot wouldn't be freaked by all the dogs running around. Mick was fine but didn't like when the tot would sit down next to him, so he'd get up and move. Good choice I thought. HE did love her while she was standing still.


I worry all the time about my crew and my grandson. He's the first baby they've ever come in close contact with. THey're fine with anything passing but this baby doens't leave and likes them.


I don't know how I didn't worry with I was a young mother. But I know I didn't do near the worrying that I do now. I thought it was maybe a grandma thing?



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Great thoughts everyone!


As I got to thinking, I was wondering if it wasn't the strollers or the strollers/kids talking/moms talking combo that may have thrown her. She does get spooked, sometimes-although briefly-by sharp or sudden noises. It's the same if I move too quickly and try and touch her when she's not looking....her senses are quite acute.


Thanks for the tips. I may try and introduce her to a kid, if I can find a person whose willing to get her used to them.....and only after her recall is great and her obedience is much much much better under distracting circumstances.

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One thing that I did want to mention...when you are trying to find someone that will help you that has children, make sure that they understand how you want to handle it. The reason I say this is because I had that problem with Koty, so I talked to my neighbor (before I moved to this house) who had a small child. He offered to help me. I explained to him that Koty would be fine as long as the little boy allowed Koty to come to him, but any sudden movements would throw Koty into a barking and lunging fit. Well, the first time, the little boy was good. After that, the little boy was calm and the minute Koty got near him, the boy screamed and threw his hands up in the air. Needless to say, that caused more problems instead of helping. The father just kept apologizing, but the damage was already done. Our dogs are great with our daughter, who is only 1yr old, but they have issues with other children. Of course, it doesn't help matters that there is a 6yr old that lives next door that likes to run up and down the fence (in their backyard) antagonizing the dogs. He even had a bat out there hitting it against the fence. I was able to talk to his parents about it, and he's done better. I just explained that I didn't mind at all for him to talk to the dogs or to go to the fence to visit them (he can't touch them through the fence at all, luckily, due to distance), but when he did the things that he was doing, it agitated them. I wish you the best of luck through this ordeal. :rolleyes:

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