Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

My Aussie Does NOT Like Children, How To Help?

by Tessa

Hello! I have an Aussie who will be 2 in January 2012. I am 21 and do not have kids, therefore he has not grown up with/been really socialized with children. He's been around them, but I AM aware that he was not socialized with children, and that Aussies have a HIGH drive to herd.

When we are around children, if they run, he WILL herd them and nip them. He'll even bark at any child innocently walking by. (Not aggressively, but to tell me they are there.)

However, he is in training to be a therapy dog. When I take him in public I don't want him barking at children, or children being afraid of him as we walk by or if they would like to pet him.

I think he is just scared of them really. I would be too if all I heard were high pitches noises and a human my size :)

Any tips to get him to be more comfortable with children? (I don't exactly have anyone volunteering their child to play with him) OTHERWISE, it's fine with me if he's just scared. Aussies are the best!


Aussie Behavior Problems? Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Comments for My Aussie Does NOT Like Children, How To Help?

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Aussie with Children
by: Anne

Take him to a park or a store like Wal- mart (outside of Course), or your neighborhood. Have treats your dog really likes. Give the dog treats to different kids and
let them be very calm and talk softly and give your aussie the treats.
The more you do it the better your dog will become around children.
Hope that helps

Anne Calmes
Gold Ring Aussies
Louisiana, USA

by: Gayle-- Big Run Aussies

Hi Tessa! You need to make children a positive with treats and praise as Anne said. I use clicker training. Perhaps you could get her into a class for clicker training or behavior problems, but make certain that the trainer uses positive reinforcement methods. Aussies can be too sensitive for sterner methods. Part of the therapy dog testing is the dog's reaction to children. So, in order to pass your sweet girl needs to tolerate children even if you don't plan to work with them. If you have any other questions about therapy dog training, feel free to contact me at

Same Problem
by: Debbie

We have the same problem with our 14 month old Aussie. We worked hard to socialize him but we don't have children so his experience was limited. When he was younger we could walk past children and he would bark once but keep going. This summer at the beach he just would bark constantly at children when we walked by on leash. A dog park just opened by our house and people are ignoring the rules and bringing small children in and letting them run around away from them. He has run up to children and barked in their faces. After the first time we starting leashing him. I would give the leave it command and give him a treat when he focused on me and wasn't barking. However, he would immediately go back to barking. I like you, think he is more afraid/cautious of them and isn't necessarily trying to herd them. His reaction is the same sometimes when an unknown person approaches him quickly reaching out to touch him. We know he needs experience with children but what parent wants to let you use their child. Especially when they are barking. I also worry that I have him on a leash and am pulling him back from them. This could be sending a message that there is danger. I am sure I tense up and he can sense it. I contacted our trainer and she is going to organize a training session and have children there. I am assuming she is bringing her own since she knows our dog and knows he isn't aggressive. I would suggest you try to do the same. Trying to do it on our own may be making it worse.

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