This past weekend, my cousin's family came to visit. They have a 2 year old girl, and Loki does not like children, especially young ones. He barked at this little intruder all weekend long. Ugh! So annoying! At first I tried ignoring it, hoping that his barking would eventually subside. It didn't. Then we tried giving the little girl treats to give to Loki. This worked to silence the barking for about 20 minutes. We did this repeatedly throughout their visit. Then, I also tried sitting next to him, projecting calm energy, and petting him. This only sort of worked for the duration that I was with him.
He was able to remain calm for long periods of time if she remained in our living room or the guest bedroom and didn't venture into the kitchen, dining room, or hallways. If she was in her space and he was in his, then he was happy. Any disruption to equilibrium was stressing to him.
If my cousin wanted her daughter to learn that not all dogs are nice, then Loki definitely succeeded in teaching her that lesson.
Unfortunately, my cousin and her family do not live near us. Otherwise, I'd bet if they visited regularly, then Loki would get used to it and finally stop barking. They have left us temporarily for the week, having gone to the hotel of the conference they're attending. They will be back on Friday. I hope Loki will be better the second time around.
So, yeah, yeah, I know, we have a baby on the way, and this isn't a good sign. A suggestion that I often hear and read about is to expose Loki to more children and to train him to behave around them with positive reinforcements. A nice idea in theory, but I have two problems. One, I don't have the time. Two, using children who are strangers as training guinea pigs doesn't seem like a good idea to me. (I have no friends with children in the area.) Not all children are well-behaved and the last thing Loki needs is a bad experience. Some kids will poke and prod, which I understand that's just what kids do, but Loki will lash out and bite. And that would not be good.
What worked the best in socializing Loki with adults and visitors was simply for us to have lots of our friends over. The more visitors we had, the better he got. Trying to schedule time for specific training didn't work as well. It's a bit artificial and unnatural. It's not a bad idea, but it requires a lot of time and effort. When we simply had visitors over, it was more natural and wasn't a chore. The focus wasn't so much on the dog, but rather just going about our lives. Loki eventually learned and adapted to our lives. In some ways, I think that this is a good approach to training a dog -- just go about your lives as you normally do, and let the dog adapt to your life. [Disclaimer: I'm not a dog expert, and this is not expert advice.]
I'm hoping that I will be able to do that with children. Trying to schedule specific times and situations to train him with children might work and might be helpful, but it requires time, effort, and seems like a chore. If we just go about the course of our lives, then perhaps Loki will simply learn to adapt to our lives.
Of course, I plan to always manage the situation between my dogs, especially Loki, and my future baby. Between the choices of training or managing, I'll have to opt more on the side of managing. Even with training, I'm not convinced that he'd ever behave reliably around children.
P.S. Jujube, on the other hand, is absolutely wonderful with children. My cousin's little girl identifies Jujube as "Go-go no bark". (Go-go means dog in Chinese.)