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Freaked out by african american kids :(

Discussion in 'Boxers & Children' started by jcbobo, Jul 15, 2013.

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  1. jcbobo

    jcbobo Boxer Buddy

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    Our boxer (1 yr old) has had 3 different "freak out" moments over the kids down the street playing outside. I don't know if he is afraid of kids in general or if its just because they are a different color skin than hubby and I. I really don't know what to do about it but I am extremely worried because we want to start a familiar soon.

    I hope I do not offend anybody with this post but I feel like we have a real problem and need some guidance. Here goes....

    Hubby and I are white and mostly all that our boxer has ever been around is our family that comes over who are also white. Our boxer is very lovey on people, very hyper but just wants to love. He has not had a lot of exposure to kids except at the dog park and he's more interested in the dogs he's playing with than the kids. My husband has told me he's starting to get very startled by the black kids down the street when they are out playing. He doesn't know if its because they are black, or if its the loud sounds of the kids running around playing.... But he freaks out and hauls ass. ( he's on a 6ft leash so he can't go too far but he's been trained to walk with manners, right by our side so this is not like him at all)

    The reason I'm wonderiing if its black people that scare him is because we had a couple come to our house once and they wanted to pet him but he cowardly backed down and tried to hide. I instantly stepped in and dismissed the petting. He has never ever acted that way towards any human before and it really worried me. He was obviously uncomfortable and i did not want to push him and have him react badly to the situation.

    If its black people he's scared of, how do I fix it????

    If its kids in general that he's afraid of, how do I prepare him for an infant coming into our home??? I am so incredibly scared of losing our boxer because of him putting our child in danger. I want everything to work out and want to have a well rounded dog. We did two sets of obedience classes and he goes to the dog park. We feel like he's been given positive exposure but now all of a sudden he's this big scared baby. Very worried.
     
  2. LILYLARUE

    LILYLARUE Boxer Insane

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    Dogs have limited definitions of the color spectrum. They see slightly different shades of light and dark. Yes, they can distinquish a few colors, red from blue, but thats because they see the difference in color reflection of those colors, not necessarily the colors themselves.

    Some dogs are better at reading people's faces and expressions than others. Some dogs, especially submissive ones, won't look into faces directly, they respond more to body movements than facial expressions. Boxer's have a wonderful sense of facial expressions - many not fearful of looking directly at faces. So.....with all this in mind - their perception of facial expressions comes from many attributes like shadows across the face caused by bone structure and postioning of muscles, along with eye positioning, mouth positioning and head positioning. With darker faces, the shadows are limited, also, the eyes appear whiter and more open to a dog. And if they smile, the dog may take a simple smile as a toothy threat. Due to these differences in skin coloring and facial expressions, some dogs will not read the person they way they would a lighter skinned person due to lack of diferencials in faces the dog can not dicipher correctly.

    Because of these differences in faces, some dogs just react before assessing, especially if they have not had experiences with people of darker colors. This goes the same for dogs that have lived in a colored family home and meeting a light skinned person for the first time. Yes, they may be more or less fearful based only on their experiences in learning to read facial expressions. They are not born with this ability - they learn as they grow based on their experiences that are partnered with humans behaviors. If a human smiles at a dog then hits him.....the dog learns not to trust a person who smiles. But as they live with us, they learn all our signals and behaviors and learn what deserves a reaction and what does not.

    Most dogs can overcome their reactivity to darker skinned people......just takes positive reinforcement and positive reward each time they meet someone who is darker than you. Same thing with other cultures, like asian. Some dogs can react to their faces due to the eyes appearing to "squint" at the dog. A sign of appeasing or submission for dogs can cause a reactive dog to do some negative behaviors. But to a cat, those "squints" mean the human is no threat and can calm a reactive cat.

    Anyways, back to the original issue. Your pup may be reacting to the high activity of the kids. Very normal. Ask them if they can help you desensitize your dog to kids. Don't have to mention their color of skin, though it's a plus in the training. Ask them if they will toss treats quietly to your pup as you walk past. Walk past 5 or 6 times at a non-reactive distance. Then end on a good note and go home. Do this as often as you can with the kids. Each day, just getting a foot closer as you walk by. He can look at the kids, but if he reacts, you are too close - back up 7-10 feet and see if the distance helps him to look but not react. As you walk by, he gets his treat tossed from the kids and you verbally praise as you continue past and he looks at you, also treating for reward. As he gets closer and is more comfortable, have the kids then become more active each time. Jumping, and speaking louder, laughing, etc. at first. As he progresses more and doesn't react, then they can begin to stop the treat tossing, and become more playful like running around and tagging each other. Letting your pup gradually adjust to the activity of kids, from calm talking to running around screaming. The idea is that when he sees kids, he will only think positive things. That he has nothing to fear and no reason to react or become protective. Eventually, as long as he is calm, you are calm and confident, and the parents of the kids are comfortable, you can start to introduce him directly to a child, one at a time at first. Have them stand "like a tree", with no talking, no touching and not looking at the pup. Have pup sniff the child and then ask for a sit. Treat, praise, and walk calmly away. Once the pup sees that the child is harmless, then the child can start to drop treats in front of them and say "go find" to the pup. This becomes a seek game for the pup and associates the child with good things. After a few of the seek games, the child can then treat from a flat palm.

    Working slowly will help the pup gain confidence around children, of any color, and become less stressed around the activity. What you want is a pup to eventually walk by, look at kids playing and not react, but to look at you for praise for being a good doggy! Again, working a slow pace and not rushing through the process is key to a good outcome.
     
  3. trc4941

    trc4941 Super Boxer

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    Thought I'd let you know that Rocco (RIP) was afraid of African Americans also. My best friend is married to a black man and Rocco would not approach him no matter what he did. One day I had him at work with me. I work in an office building downtown. I was walking him around the block at lunchtime, when all of a sudden he stopped dead in his tracks. I tried to pull him along but he reared up on his hind legs, twisted his head back and forth and refused to budge. I couldn't figure out why he was doing that. Then I saw a black man unloading a truck in front of us. I could not get him to go passed the guy. I had to turn around and go back the other way. It wasn't the truck, because we passed numerous trucks during this walk - also we live on a busy street so he was used to all sorts of traffic.

    Please - no one take offense.
     
  4. Fabbidavisjr

    Fabbidavisjr Boxer Booster

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    Extensions of us and fearful periods

    First and foremost its normal for dogs to act this way. Dogs go through different stages in there lives as humans do. So 1 year old he is still a puppy and still finding his comfort levels. So fear is one of those things.

    Second dogs are very intuitive of our feelings. My female is very suspicious of most men that we don't know. Yet if a female comes by to pet her she its really friendly and happy.

    Third, don't reward that behavior because even if you pet her to comfort him in the situation he takes it as he's doing something thats being rewarded. Don't force him into it but don't comfort him let him know that behavior is not acceptable.
     
  5. tmschult

    tmschult Boxer Booster

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    I was always told when socializing a puppy to expose them to all types of people- young, old, dark skinned, light skinned. I think seeing darker skinned people now is just something new and different therefore scary. Try to expose him to many different types of people now. Parks, downtown restaurants- in the way that LILYLAURUE described. With Hank, I ask people to pet him. People with kids, black people, Asian people, all types of people to let him know that white people are not the only people:).
     
  6. MayaS

    MayaS Boxer Pal

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    Maya recently finished her puppy training class and the trainer told all of us to expose our dogs to different people (different ethnicities, heights, weights, etc) as early and often as possible.

    I live in a pretty diverse neighborhood so it hasn't been a problem for her to be around people who don't look "like us" (we're white) but the first time she met the guy who lives next door (he's African-American) she cowered a bit behind my SO. Now she runs up to the fence to say hi if she sees him and hasn't had issues with anyone else in the neighborhood since then so it went away pretty quickly.

    I say just find opportunities to expose your dog to lots of different people and it will probably go away as long as you're consistent in rewarding friendliness.
     
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