I think I'll give Nanaki's trainer a call soon, I know she did one on one sessions. My husband feels that yelling and spanking an animal is a better way to "train" them but I feel that will only make the aggression and anxiety worse. I love positive reinforcement though :3
It's so funny to see dogs run away from the cats! The other night we had them in the living room and one of the cats touched Meeko and he barked and RAN to the other side of the room.
We just got some kittens (MiL couldn't resist) so trying to ease mine to the dog noise. When she's bigger we'll work on proper introductions but she is so tiiiiny.
Yes punishment based training will definitely increase anxiety and aggression. They work on the principle of suppressing unwanted behavior instead of modifying or replacing the unwanted behavior. Definitely no yelling or spanking!
I would definitely look into hiring a trainer who is certified via the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Do *not* go with any trainer that will use dominance, choke chains, or e-collars. You could also look up Karen Pryor Academy certified trainers in your area as well.
My Meeko is a mill rescue, so he was fearful of a lot of things when I first adopted him. I use purely positive methods (mostly clicker training). I've had him about a year and a half now, and he's a much more confident dog!
If your dog is nervous around your child, I would probably start rewarding him for being in the presence of your child, but not push him to interact with him just yet. I would probably start off by dropping him yummy high reward treats (like cheese or cooked meat) when he is in the presence of your kid.
Also look up the Look At That game. It's a great way to modify behavior and create a positive association with something that is negative. I use this method for my fosters with fear based aggression/reactivity. It works very well :)