We're working with a great trainer, but wanted to ask about a second opinion in case time/exposure is crucial. The trainer's opinion is that he just needs confidence. Cash generally does well with people. He isn't best friends with every person that comes along, but is agreeable to be petted or talked to once he gets the go ahead from me. This, to me, is how he should be. That being said, I have nieces and nephews which I would like him to be comfortable around though they're quite young now. Will he need to be exposed to them specifically as they grow or can I condition him to be generally accepting of children? Of course, children who know how to properly interact with dogs. I do try to bring him around when they are visiting so that he is exposed to them and all the noises/movement that comes with them.
As it stands, he tends to be a little bit...not standoffish, not skittish, but apprehensive around them, and that of course keeps my sister and mother on standby watching him like a hawk (my sister summed it up by saying Cash seems nervous which makes her nervous). He is very gentle, but can be a little jealous if I hold them and he is around. He hasn't bitten or even offered to bite, but he has done this thing that I would liken to eating corn off the cob to my 9 month old nephew. In doing some research, and talking to the trainer, it seems to be either an affectionate thing (he has done this to me, too) or a bit of a "hey, pay attention to me not them" but regardless of motive, my feeling is this isn't acceptable behavior with the kids. Additionally, the last time we visited with them, he laid in front of my nephew and whined or "rooed" at him, kind of like he does when encouraging my other dog to play with him, but I couldn't read the interaction. What's up with that?
All of that background information, and I guess my basic question is, with the behavior mentioned above, can I take him out in public and desensitize him to kids by walking him near playgrounds and other places where noise and activity levels will challenge his focus on me in order to build his confidence and also force him to pay attention to me? Or am I being overly concerned and this is something that will come with age and maturity on his part? I feel like I need to expose him to the things that he needs to be comfortable around, but don't want to force it. We no longer go to the dog park, but have many dog friendly stores in town so that would likely be the places I would take him in addition to parks and walking trails. Thanks in advance for any insight!
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