I have to say, I am so proud of Sammy. When I adopted her I discovered that she wasn’t good with children. I assume that Sam had never really been socialized with children and I also assume that the reason her family had allowed me to adopt her was because they were getting ready to have a baby and were worried about Sam’s behavior towards kids. They never actually mentioned anything about her desire to nip children. I didn’t find out until she tried to bite a little boy in a pet store.
From that day forward, I began to slowly introduce her to kids. I would stop anyone from trying to approach without asking, and instruct them on the best way to approach her. I would often hand treats to the people interested in petting her, and have them crouch down sideways (facing away from her) with their hand held out. I taught people to pet under the chin as opposed to over the head because reaching over a dog’s head can be very threatening.
Today I took Sam with me into two different pet stores. We visited our friends are Care-a-Lot Pet Supply and then walked around in PetSmart. It was at PetSmart that we ran into a woman and her two little girls. I’m not sure how old they were, but I’d guess under twelve years old. The youngest girl came up and asked if she could pet my dog. I gave her permission and asked her to go slowly. Next thing you know, this little girl is on her knees with her arms around Sammy. So much for going slow!
The girl waved for her older sister to come over, and before you know it, there are two little girls petting Sammy. The younger one even kissed her on the muzzle! I felt a little nervous about the situation. Normally I’m good about telling kids what to do around my dogs (for my dog’s sake!) but this time I choked. I observed Sammy as the youngest girl jumped up to her feet, and ran over to her mom. Normally Sam would snap at such quick actions.
Then the girl came running back over, and dropped to her knees. Sam still didn’t snap. In fact, she didn’t try to nip at all. These little girls played with her for almost fifteen minutes straight! Then as they ran back over to their mom down the aisle, she looked over and thanked me for letting her girls pet my dog. In that moment I said, “No, thank you! It’s good for her… A year ago, this dog would have tried to bite your daughters. She has come a long way!”
My response immediately perked the mother’s interest. I went on to explain Sammy’s previous behavior — how she wasn’t used to kids, and that nipping can get a little out of hand for some herding dogs if not trained and socialized enough. The mom seemed amazed by the story and had walked over to pet Sammy herself. Next thing you know, another thirty minutes goes by as the mother and her two little girls patted Sammy and talked to me about dogs. Sam even got to show off some of her cool tricks like shake, speak, roll over, and spin.
I was so proud of Sammy for letting that little energetic girl practically jump all over her. She really has come a long way since I adopted her. She used to eyeball kids from long distances with the intent of wanting to bite their ankles or nip at their noses. Before, she would have lunged at that little girl so many times — for the sudden movements, the hugging, the kissing in the face. I cannot believe how well she handled herself. I am so proud of your accomplishments Sammy. You have really amazed me!