As you're conditioning your dog to feel more comfortable with children, do not overwhelm her. Do the setups on the previous pages a little at a time. If she is showing signs of stress, such as licking her lips, ducking behind you, nipping, darting at or barking at the children, be more intense with your dramatizations, and ask the children who are helping you to be calmer when they're interacting.
You want your dog to see children as an invitation to play and relax and to get extra rewards and loving. To emphasize this, remember the following:
• Let your dog drag a leash when children are around. This will give you a calm way to interfere if she gets overstimulated or frightened.
• Have treats and toys on hand whenever your dog is around children. If you are using a clicker, this is the time to take it out. Praise and interact with your dog more often.
Teach the children how to communicate with your dog. Simple directions like SIT, games found in chapter 9, and fun tricks—all rewarded with praise, treats, and/or toys—are ways to ensure that everyone has fun.
If your dog is truly overexcited or withdrawn, use a Gentle Leader to help calm her. (See page 188.)
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