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So I knew this day would come.  The puppies are 11 months now and this is the second time my out-of-state kids have come with their three children (2 toddlers and an infant).  Last time they visited, the pups were 5 months.  Since then we have been to classes;  walks in town;  and then, of course, quarantine.  However, even without quarantine, I knew this would pose a problem.  If these puppies were raised with children, I have no doubt I would not have any problem.  They absolutely love people, and I have witnessed the sire and dam who had lived with grandchildren.  However, we  live rural and our kids are grown, so it is just my husband and me.  But this weekend we had two adults, three children, and two other dogs descend on us.  Quite a big and overwhelming plate for the puppies.  Knowing this, I have tried to take this slowly...limiting time with the kids, on-leash petting and cookie giving.  And although I totally understand this from the dogs point of view, I am just not liking the way they startle when the kids move too quickly.  So my questions are

1.  how would you handle this situation and....

2.  What happens after they leave.  We are back to alone time until the next visit, which will probably be 2 months away. And then it will be re-adjusting all over again. 

I knew from the start this was going to be hard.  No matter how I racked my brain, I could not come up with a plan for socializing puppies with children when you have no access to children on a daily basis (or even a weekly basis.)  Classes consist of adults, as do walks.  And even on the occasional walk when encountering kids, it's not enough exposure to make them "child-proof." 

Thanks in advance for any input, advice, and tricks you might have!

 

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I wish I had some good suggestions for how to socialize during a pandemic. This is a pretty common issue with border collies even when people are able to socialize them adequately and it's one of the most common reason that young dogs in families with young children end up in rescue. Toddlers tend to activate all their instincts to respond to and control movement.

But of course you already know this. The only thing I can suggest is that until restrictions are lifted (and even afterward) that you separate the pups when he kids are around and work with them separately. It'll be much easier to focus on one puppy to reward appropriate behavior than it will be to try it with both at the same time. It might also be helpful to have an adult spend some time with one puppy and one child in a separate room away from the rest of the family where you can have a more controlled environment to teach both the canine and human kiddos how to be appropriate with each other.

I'd also suggest that you set up some ground rules with your adult children and in laws that they channel their children's enthusiasm in constructive ways that will keep them quieter when your puppies are around. It's a tall order but when people have that many kids so close in age it's not unreasonable IMO to expect them to be responsible to the degree that they can to keep things under control as much as possible. Outdoor playtime, games, etc. can help tire the kids out. Enforcing reasonable expectations as to how the kids can interact with the puppies (or not). Just because it's the grandparents' home shouldn't give them free rein to run riot anymore than it would be appropriate to do so in a store, restaurant, etc.

Good luck. I'm just glad I don't have to deal with this. :lol:

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Thank you Gentle Lake!  We have been working with each puppy separately (for instance, today we worked on the bike the grandchild was riding is not scary).  I really like the idea of one adult, one kid, one puppy in one room.  I never thought of that!  You are right that I should have this dialogue with my adult kids.  They are understanding of the situation since they both come from dog-oriented homes.  I am also doing a lot of this work on leash, not only because I have more control but because it seems that when the leash is off and they are in a situation, they don't know how to handle it, but when they are on leash they have more confidence to look to me for guidance.  Of course, my main concern is even after the pandemic, there really isn't anyplace to expose them to children since we totally live in the country. Then I'm back to square one!   I am still wracking my brain over that one.  If I lived in town, chances are there would be neighbor kids. 

I replied to this once on my phone, but it didn't show up for some reason. 

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1 hour ago, beachdogz said:

...my main concern is even after the pandemic, there really isn't anyplace to expose them to children since we totally live in the country.

Then if you want to have well socialized dogs it on you to take them places where you can encounter a variety of people, including children. Pretty simple, really -- maybe not actually doing it but what to do. It should have been part of your plan before you got a puppy, much less 2.

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I certainly understand that it is my responsibility to take them places to socialize them. Not as simple as it sounds when you live in the country and around small towns. Classes have started again, and we have been out on the walking trail even during the quarantine. And while socializing them was certainly a big part of my plan when I got them (much less 2), I knew even then that the kid socialization was going to be difficult.  I am not writing to whine;  I am writing to see if anyone can think of any other resources I can tap into.  I can and do walk them in town, but am not guaranteed to see children along the walks.  We have a playground,  however it has been locked since March (and before that the playground was locked due to winter.)  Like I said -- not whining.  Just trying to see if anyone has encountered a similar situation and how they dealt with it. 

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What behaviors are you wanting your dogs to display with children?
 

I have 0 children and for the longest time they weren’t really exposed to children. I figure as long as we keep it below their threshold I’m good they don’t need to be buddy buddy. :lol: My boys somehow still adore children. I’ve watched my friends kids sometimes and I have to bribe my dogs to do anything with me. 
 

Cressa never really liked kids after I lived next door to feral children who thought it was a great game to scare her. I had safe spots for her whenever I babysat kids. If she goes to her spot children can not mess with her. I had even 2 years old understand that concept but I don’t leave my dogs with children unattended. I also would put her away if things got to rowdy. She did get better with age.

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I wonder if it would help if you behaved a little less predictably occasionally. I don't mean act like a child all the time but I wonder if it would desensitize the dog a bit if you just shrieked now and then and then told the dogs they were good dogs. Ran past them and praised them for being calm. Waved your hands wildly around. Do a silly little dance. 

Making this all good fun of course while still having clear expectations of the behavior you want to see when the children do it. 

If you don't have kids around it seems to me you just have to be the kid however you can? 

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15 hours ago, SS Cressa said:

What behaviors are you wanting your dogs to display with children?
 

 

Wow.  As simple as that sounds, it is not a question I actually asked myself until reading it now!!  Of course, I would be thrilled if my dogs totally loved children of all ages;  were very patient around them;  did not startle if they did something unexpected; and we all lived happily ever after.  However, I am old enough to realize that it is not a perfect world with perfect people and dogs.  And I know that every dog has a different personality that many times is hard-wired.  So my answer might be that I would like my dogs not be reactionary around children and be friendly toward them. 

I am learning a lot this weekend (by trial and error) and this has made me think, think, think.  I lost both of my older dogs this year.  Both were BCs and were adopted when they were 1 1/2 years old.  When they were alive and the kids came to visit, one was very very calm and patient with the children.  The other was raised with teenagers before we got her.  She loved people and went crazy over teenagers. She was fine with young children, but she was very suspicious and afraid of toddlers.  (From a dog's point of view, I totally understand that.)  So with her, she was segregated from the toddler(s) when she could not be totally monitored.  I guess I would like to avoid that with the new dogs if possible.  

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1 hour ago, Rigby said:

I wonder if it would help if you behaved a little less predictably occasionally. I don't mean act like a child all the time but I wonder if it would desensitize the dog a bit if you just shrieked now and then and then told the dogs they were good dogs. Ran past them and praised them for being calm. Waved your hands wildly around. Do a silly little dance. 

Making this all good fun of course while still having clear expectations of the behavior you want to see when the children do it. 

If you don't have kids around it seems to me you just have to be the kid however you can? 

I found this very intriguing.  I have been, since I got the puppies, making an effort to hug and hold them and even lay on them as a child would, all in hopes of preparing them in case such a thing happened.  (Let me just say that I do NOT ever leave kids and dogs un-monitored and would never condone such behavior....but children can be quick and unpredictable.)  So now you have me thinking -- it actually might be a good idea to build this "unpredictable" behavior into their training....not just for childproofing, but it would probably be a good thing to prepare them for any unexpected thing that might happen. I am thinking like when you prepare a therapy dog by de-sensitizing them to moving wheelchairs, walkers, and falling objects.  Thank you for this idea!  I think I want to incorporate it into future training. 

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