This is Titan, at 90lbs. We live near an elementary school, so every day, at exactly 3 PM, dozens of mothers with strollers and children run by our house. Coincidentally, that is also when he has to go for a walk. While some of you may be looking at his picture and cooing, the mothers who walk with their children seem to see a monster. A guard dog, saliva dripping everywhere, with jaws that could snap their babies' heads off. I can assure them this is not the case; however, they seem to simply 'judge a book by its cover.' Many of you who have 'aggressive' looking dogs are aware of the way a couple may cross the street after seeing you with your canine companion, how a mother may gather her child into her arms and walk in the next direction, the stares, judgemental looks, and questions as to 'why that dog isn't wearing a muzzle.' Most big dogs are giant goofs, scared of pretty much everything, and it's unfortunate that they are perceived in a negative way. However it is understandable; having these dogs by our side 24/7 we know their mannerisms, how loving they are, and how silly they are, unlike the public, who sees a huge, bulky dog walking down the street.
The best, if only, way to battle this negative stigma is to approach one family at a time, maybe at a park, on a trail, or wherever your pup is most comfortable. Despite their parents telling them not to, the children will be first to approach. Always look for the parents and clarify that your dog is friendly and teach them how to pet your furry friend. Make your pup lie down in a non-threatening manner and gently hold their collar in case the pup or children get too excited. The rest plays out on its own.
If that isn't enough, try making your pup walk with a toy in his mouth, Titan carries a little stuffed bunny; this teaches them to be gentle and softens their appearance by a lot.
The other day as I was walking Titan, a woman and her two children walked past me; her son (around five years old) came to a screeching halt on his scooter and begged his mother if he could touch "the dog," Titan, and his mother immediately said no, saying that the dog would bite and was vicious. I looked at the mother and told her that it was OK and that Titan loved kids and was very good and patient with them. She seemed doubtful and stood beside her child as if to grab him if she felt any form of aggressive behavior coming from the dog. Titan laid down, and raised his head, I told the children to let him sniff their hands first before petting him, I held his collar while reassuring the children that they were doing great. When I looked back at the mother, she stared, open-mouthed at the exchange between her son and 'the aggressive dog.' This is the moment where you know she changed her mind, as if a light went off in her head and she suddenly understood that she was wrong and should have asked me before claiming that my dog was aggressive.
I told her that big dogs are usually more calm with children and more protective. That is the only way you can change a stranger's mind; you have to do it one family or even one person at a time. Be patient is the best advice I can give you.