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Old 09-21-2012, 10:35 PM   #1
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UPDATE post 63!...Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

A little backgroud...

Last Saturday we adopted a 6-month-old dog. We were told she was very sweet and submissive and not at all aggressive. The only kids she had been around, however, were neighbor kids. She lived outside with 20 other dogs.

When we got home and were playing with her outside, my 4yo DS slapped her on her side when she was laying down...he said there was a bug on her . He also accidentally dropped some light plastic cones on her, but I don't know if she knew they came from him or the sky. She didn't seem bothered by that.

So, since that first day, she has randomly growled at the big kids (4 and 5). They aren't doing anything to provoke her. They could just be walking toward me and she's close by. Yesterday she snapped at DS. He was playing on the floor near her but not with her. Today she snapped her head back at DD's hand as she was petting her on the side of her belly. It really scared both of them.

When the growling first started, I told DH I'd research what we can do and give it a month. We gave the kids clear instructions on how to treat her and give her space. I've had them feed her, give her treats, walk her, pet her lovingly, be outside with her, etc. I know it's only been a week, but after snapping at both kids, I'm really concerned about this dog. I'm not very experienced with dogs, but I haven't had one that acted like this. She is very sweet and comfortable with me and DH and the baby, but does not even like to walk by the bigger kids.

So I called the SPCA that we adopted her from. I left a message telling them what is going on and if we can possibly trade her in.

The girl called me right back and said how Tess (the dog) has never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever growled or showed any aggression whatsoever. She said that they would not let us adopt another dog because they gave us a non-aggressive dog that is now aggressive. She then went on to say another reason they would not give us another is because we aren't willing to work with this one. She obviously pre-judged me. I assured her that I was willing to work with her but after snapping at my kids twice, I'm not comfortable with risking the safety of my kids. Is that so horrible of me, sheesh! She said just the one incident of DS slapping her caused her to be like this.

Is this girl right? She was obviously angry that we ruined this dog. I had to assure her that, other than what DS did, we have made a lot of effort to be a loving, safe home for her.

Are dogs this sensitive? It really bums me out that this person thinks it's our fault. Perhaps the dog should just not be with kids. I would love to be able to keep her, but, like I said, I'm not willing to risk the safety of my kids...I've heard too many horror stories.

I think the fact that the dog is timid, has not been around kids, has been with lots of other dogs, and is now in a home with no other dogs and these little beings that she's not used to, it has just not been a good combination for her. I don't know if time will change things. I'm thinking we should just get a puppy that has a clean slate that can grow up with kids.

It took a lot of me not to tell off this lady. I'm sure they have some deadbeat dog adopters out there, but not us. Am I wrong, or should they let us have a dog that is better suited for our family?

If you're still with me, THANK YOU!

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Last edited by emerino; 10-05-2012 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:45 PM   #2
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I really don't think dogs are so sensitive that a hit from a child (unless forceful and intentionally mean) would bother them UNLESS it is in their temperament. I think some dogs are just naturally more mean. Doesn't have anything to do with their breed (although I do notice small dogs tend to be snippy and growl at things quite a bit).

I remember when my younger sister was a few years old, she used to do things to our animals because she was newly learning how to treat them. My dogs never growled at her or any other kids in our home for that matter. The only time they barked/growled was when someone was outside.

I did, however, have a chihuahua who would get into these moods and growl at everyone/everything. Especially if he was sleeping and comfortable and someone tried to move him.

All in all, I'd try to talk to someone else at the pet shelter. Unfortunately you may deal with people blaming you, but like I said a pat from a child really shouldn't bother a dog so much that it would completely change their attitude from just one incident. Usually traumatic events have to happen to them before they act like that towards someone, or they're just born disliking kids.
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Old 09-21-2012, 10:58 PM   #3
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Thank you, Junebug, that's how I feel, that it must be just in her temperament and the foster parents never saw it because they didn't have kids. But I'm no expert.

The trainer is supposed to call me so hopefully she'll be a little nicer.

I'm torn, because Tess really has the potential to be a great pet, if she would just treat the kids with the same respect as me and DH.

Oh, I forgot that she also growled at a neighbor (an old man) when we were walking, oh, and my MIL, too. I need to tell the girl that...nothing to do with kids there. Obviously this dog wasn't well socialized, and that's not MY fault!
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:04 PM   #4
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Yeah I dunno... That's a tough one. I'm not a dog person, so my first reaction is to return the dog and wait until your kids are a little older or adopt a for sure family-friendly dog. A dog that was nice but not around kids and mostly around other dogs does not mean its your fault. That truly can't be all it takes to a turn a perfectly happy dog into a growling, snapping dog. Really... And I would ask to speak with a manager or whoever runs the place because you are willing to work here but hello... god forbid the dog snaps and mauls your child who's CPS/police going to go after!? You! It's negligent to have an animal that's likely to bite around your children. They should offer to rehome to someone without children and help you find a kid-friendly dog. They may not do that though and you may have to go through another channel to do so.
My sister was bit by our dog when she was about 3-4 and did nothing wrong to provoke it but be a little kid and dance around the house. The dog (part pit bull) bit her right in the face, mm's from her eye. Sadly in CA they won't rehome pits or dogs that bite, so the dog was euthanized. I've been bit by a dog (my mom's chihuahua-terroir mix) as well and don't trust that dog 100% or the others it lives with around my kids. One has snapped at my DS twice now and won't ever have the chance to again. No way. But that's me. I'm more of a cat kinda person. No dogs for me.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:09 PM   #5
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

No you are not wrong, the person at the SPCA is. Timid dogs are more likely to bite because they are afraid. This dog has not been properly socialized and so she does not know how to behave. The woman never should have said those things to you, you did not "ruin this dog". A dog with poor socialization and timidity should never have been adopted out to a family with young children and little dog experience. That is just a ticking time bomb. It is not fair for them to say they will not adopt a different dog to you simply because this one did not work out. I think it is more a sign that they did not know much about this particular dog's temperament or needs when deciding on placement. It is possible that working with a good behaviorist might help, but it is also possible that this dog may never be good with children.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:48 AM   #6
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

First off, kudos on seeking the help of a trainer. That is the best step.

Second. Establish a place that is for Tess only. A corner with a nice comfy bed, a crate with the door off and some high value chewies. Instruct the kids that when she is there she is to be left ALONE!!! That will then become a place she can get up and walk away to when feeling overwhelmed. She is far less likely to bite if she knows she has her own space.

Reinforce her with loads of treats and positive behaviours. I would explain to the kids that she needs some time to come to them on her own. Don't approach her for now. Let her establish a relationship on her terms. It doesn't sound like she is aggressive to me. More like fearful. That can be worked on.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:03 AM   #7
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

If a dog ever snapped at one of my kids I would always be worried about what "could" happen, even if all the right steps are taken to socialize her (growling would make me uncomfortable too, but not as much as the snapping). If your children are frightened or nervous around her now because of these incidents that is also going to impact the relationship they develop with her. Your pup needs to be in a home that she can feel safe and secure as well, and if she's not overly familiar with kids (and their erratic, unpredictable behavior) it doesn't sound like a good fit for either of you. I would probably try and talk to someone else at the SPCA, explaining the situation, and see what other options you have. I don't think you should keep the dog though, regardless of what you are able to work out with them.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:36 AM   #8
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by iris0110 View Post
No you are not wrong, the person at the SPCA is. Timid dogs are more likely to bite because they are afraid. This dog has not been properly socialized and so she does not know how to behave. The woman never should have said those things to you, you did not "ruin this dog". A dog with poor socialization and timidity should never have been adopted out to a family with young children and little dog experience. That is just a ticking time bomb. It is not fair for them to say they will not adopt a different dog to you simply because this one did not work out. I think it is more a sign that they did not know much about this particular dog's temperament or needs when deciding on placement. It is possible that working with a good behaviorist might help, but it is also possible that this dog may never be good with children.

This.

Take the dog back--I'm sure this will be very difficult, but it has to be done. Simply (*calmly*) explain to them that the dog isn't adjusting to your family, you want to make sure everyone is safe--the dog AND your kids--and if that means they won't adopt to you again, so be it. It's not the dog's fault that it wasn't socialized and is timid, of course, but that is the way it is and she may never adjust.

I am a former vet tech and have seen many of these situations go bad, ending with the kid bitten and the dog being put down.. I am sorry to put it that way, but the stakes are too high not to.

You don't have to adopt a puppy to get a dog that is kid-friendly. We got ours at 6.5 years old from Lab rescue. She is the perfect family dog--infinitely patient, calm, protective. Not all dogs are like that.. a good rescue organization will work with you to find the right fit.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:37 AM   #9
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If dogs were that sensitive then my dogs would be vicious by now! My DS has jumped, hit, kicked, sat on, pulled their tails and ears, poked eyes, etc. lol. Of course I discourage that kind of behavior but it happens sometimes. I actually give my dogs big pats, probably quite similar to your DS's slap.

I absolutely agree, a dog showing signs of aggression around your children needs to be rehomed. Definitely not your fault. If they won't let you get another dog, speak to the person above them. You either need another dog or your adoption fee back.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:13 AM   #10
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Not just any dog can be a family friendly dog. They all come with baggage. Some just need a little more work than others. Think of it this way though. Now the only experience with kids is being hit by one. YOURS. Essentially with no other action, whether justified or not, you have ruined her. Getting the help of a trainer is vital. The crate idea is a good one. Dogs are den animals and need their own space sometimes. In the end the end the dog may be happier with the adults in the house but that doesn't eliminate positive interactions with everyone.
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