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Old 09-22-2012, 05:25 AM   #11
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

I'll be the voice of dissent. You've had her a WEEK. She's still adjusting. We've had our 6-month-old puppy 10 days, and I have a 5 and 6 year old. So I get where you're coming from. I told the kids from day 1 that Zoey has to adjust to being in a new home with new people. I told them if she ever growls, that that is her warning sign to back off. It just means she doesn't like what you're doing. It doesn't mean she's aggressive. And she has growled once at DD. DD had pinched her ear a little too hard when she was petting her (she has silky floppy ears). DD backed off and Zoey went back to sleep.

I don't think you've 'ruined' the dog. But I do think you're giving up too easily. You need to give her space and time to adjust. We keep a crate open at all times if Zoey wants to go in there (though she usually just jumps in my lap). Dogs will also attach to one person and tend to be protective of them. So if she's with you, and the kids run towards you, she may think they're attacking. And I'm sure you're already doing this, but never leave a dog alone with the kids.

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Old 09-22-2012, 06:08 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by VinhThiMom
I'll be the voice of dissent. You've had her a WEEK. She's still adjusting. We've had our 6-month-old puppy 10 days, and I have a 5 and 6 year old. So I get where you're coming from. I told the kids from day 1 that Zoey has to adjust to being in a new home with new people. I told them if she ever growls, that that is her warning sign to back off. It just means she doesn't like what you're doing. It doesn't mean she's aggressive. And she has growled once at DD. DD had pinched her ear a little too hard when she was petting her (she has silky floppy ears). DD backed off and Zoey went back to sleep.

I don't think you've 'ruined' the dog. But I do think you're giving up too easily. You need to give her space and time to adjust. We keep a crate open at all times if Zoey wants to go in there (though she usually just jumps in my lap). Dogs will also attach to one person and tend to be protective of them. So if she's with you, and the kids run towards you, she may think they're attacking. And I'm sure you're already doing this, but never leave a dog alone with the kids.
This. We did rescue work and dealt with actual aggressive dogs and it really doesnt sound like this us it. Shes poorly socialized and freaking out. If she was aggressive she wouldnt be doing so much growling and snapping she would have bitten and drawn blood by now. She needs work and you may not be equipped to deal with that kind of work and thats ok. The shelter should have coached you through this in a gentler way. Fwiw I dont think the slap was probably as traumatizing as the belly touching. I would do some reading (google nothing in life is free) and read on dog behavior. Watch the dog whisperer. Tell the kids hands off for now. It could get bad if her anxiety isnt dealt with but she could end up being a dream! I want you to understand though that if you dont feel like you can deal with it thats ok, because shes at this crossroads and if you can't provide her the help she needs she should go to a family that can.
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Old 09-22-2012, 07:42 AM   #13
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

I often pull pit bull type dogs from the shelters and foster, rehab, and vet on my own dime. I can tell you right now that a dogs behavior in the shelter does not shed any light on how it will behave in a home. Many shelters do not do behavioral assessments on these dogs. What you see is not what you get. An example, I pulled a 6 month old dog who was quiet, calm, and submissive in the shelter brought her home and she is severly food aggressive with the other dogs. I have yet to pull a dog that was aggressive towards children but I do not believe one incidence of your DS slapping her has caused this. There are a couple things going on here.

1. She is in a new home with new people, her world has been turned upside down.

2. You most likely do not know her history or what she has been through prior to arriving at the shelter.

3. Some dogs are more snippy then others, it could be a personality thing.

One of two things are going to happen, she is either going to get comfortable and this behavior will resolve itself or it's going to become obvious that this is in her nature. You can try by training her but you will have to correct these negative occurances as soon as they happen. Positive reinforcement is important. I am glad a trainer is going to call you and I hope it works out.
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:00 AM   #14
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Thanks for all of the advice! It's nice to hear it's not my fault. I really do want her to work out, if she adjusts I know she'll be a great pet.

I can't figure out what triggers her. This morning she ran up to DS playfully.

I have googled a lot and the kids know to back off when she growls. The two snapping incidents were not preceded by growls. I don't correct her for growling...I know it's a warning. I've thought about maybe have the kids give her a treat every time they go close to her.

Her crate is in the living room where we spend most of our time. Should I move it? Should I get a dog bed and make her chew her chews there? As it is she lays on the rug by the couch in front of her crate. The kids were near there when she snapped at them.

I just don't know what to do! I can give her more time and just be extra cautious with the kids. And even though I don't have experience with dealing with this, I'm very good at googling
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:14 AM   #15
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

I have four dogs currently and my son is 3. I was worried about the two oldest dogs (10 and 16) about them being snippy with him but they are really good with him. All the dogs had issues and were rescues when we got them. The best thing we did was to see a doggy trainer and worked on obedience classes. The oldest dog just runs from my son when he gets too rough. The shepherd mix growls and barks at him just because she is grumpy and warning him. The schnauzer mix is very timid and still after having her for 4 years she still does not like fast movement. Our newest silky has serious issues and we are taking him to a super dog class which our trainer said is for dogs with issues. My son says Milo(newest silky) is his best friend so we have to work with his issues. I second watching the dog whisperer and finding a good trainer. Keep giving her space. Make sure she is getting enough exercise and has things to keep her entertained. If she is laying on a rug and not in the crate, maybe try putting the rug in the crate. Dogs do take work, exercise, and effort. There is something that Cesar Milian says about contact with the dogs, no touch, no......, and I forget the rest. He is really good with the dogs and you need to show her the order of the pack even if her new pack is human with kids. Keep working with her.
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:39 AM   #16
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No touch no talk no eye contact! Thats dog talk for "im running the show so chill out."
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:44 AM   #17
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

It's definitely nothing you've done to cause this. In fact, I really believe that her being with a bunch of other dogs and not people is what caused it - dogs can very easily fall back into a "pack" frame of mind, and that can be very scary.
In a pack, she has been used to being aggressive to get her way, to ensure survival (not literally, but primal instinct kinda thing, kwim?). Unless they were separated, for example, her getting food to eat would be dependent on her being aggressive and pushing other dogs aside.

She may or may not unlearn that behaviour, but at only 6 months old there's a really good chance of retraining her. I don't know if I would want her around my children. It kinda sounds like she would be better suited for a home with no children. Although that still kinda bothers me, as people will take their dog out in public and act like kids shouldn't be interested in the dog - not fair to either the dog or the kids, IMO.

I don't really agree with the other posters - I mean, I can see giving her her own space where the kids are to stay away from... but at the same time I wouldn't want to encourage her being territorial.
In our house, our dog is the family dog, our pet... everyone's pet, not just the adults'. He is expected to put up with a lot of crap from the kids - not abuse, but normal kid stuff.
We first got Myles before we had kids, and we tried to train him for the kids - like, we would pat him harder than normal (not hitting, but not really gentle pats), pulling his ears or lips or tail when he walked past us, wrestling with him and pinning him on the ground - and always always always praised him with words and nice pets and treats when he didn't react at all to our behaviour. Also, he was always made to do a trick to get fed, and while he was eating we would "steal" his food, put our hands in the bowl, push him aside.
I know it sounds kinda mean... but we tried to think of anything a little kid (really, thinking of a crawling/toddling baby) may do to him, and it's made for an awesome dog that we've never had to worry about with the kids at any age.

All that to say, maybe some training like that would help with her - the unfortunate thing is that it really can't be the kids doing these things, it would have to be you and DH at the beginning. You and your DH need to set yourself as her masters - she needs to be submissive and obedient to you. Again, it sounds mean, but it's how dogs will act amongst themselves - wrestle with her, do not let her win, pin her on the ground with your face/hand on her throat. When she stops struggling, let her up, and give her TONS of praise. This is what pups are doing when they playfight - establishing dominance. I would be prepared to get nipped or snapped at in the beginning, especially where she's all ready snapping at the kids.
Then having the kids do tricks training with her may help - they would make sure to give her a treat, lots of pets and praise for obeying, this would make her associate them with good things - but they wouldn't be able to do that at this point.

Reread your post there - do not let her get away with growling either. Yes, it is a warning. And that's a perfect rule for general dogs that we don't know. But the family dog should never be growling at anyone in the family.
Our dog will never growl at us - the only times he has ever growled at us, funny enough, were when DH has been playing rough with the kids, the kids scream, and the dog would growl at DH. We dealt with it and he knows now that we are not going to hurt the children - his growls were a warning that he was willing to protect his kids, which is what we want, but not against us. He also will growl at the window if strangers come in the yard and DH is not home.
These growls, against strangers, we... sorta encourage. We come to see who it is, give him a pet and say "Okay boy, I see him", and then we tell him to stop growling.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:07 AM   #18
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

We did have one of those dogs (9 month Border Collie) that was a bit off. She was sick for the first week we had her (more than likely Parvo) and even had a good temperament for about a month afterwards. Then when she finally felt better she was food aggressive, growling at DS and other similar behaviors. We tried to keep them apart, always have an eye on them if they were together, tried to correct the food aggression (only happened when DS was around), tried to correct the growling at DS. But nothing worked. And then DS went outside to play with a ball one day (his not hers) and she went out the dog door and attacked him. She bit his thumb. I took him to the ER and told them what happened. They said the dog needs to get out of your house immediately.

So we re-homed her to a house with no kids. She was aggressive to the other dogs but the big one (90lbs) would just sit on her if she tried to be alpha. Then she ended up in their parents home. I don't know what happened to her after that.

I did find out that 3-4% of Border Collie's are insane because of inbreeding. We did figure out that the previous owners probably had a kid torture her. I think it was the combination of the two is what caused her insanity.

So I guess what I am saying is it could be the actual dog and could be what happened to her before you got her.

We currently have a dog who is scared out of her head about EVERYTHING. She was even too scared t go on walks. Then we took her across country and she got even more scared. Her "acting out" behaviors are barking incessantly at anyone who knocks/rings doorbell. She tries to be alpha around other dogs, it is funny when they put her in her actual place of below the omega. And she is so smart and stubborn she is stupid. Oh she frustrates me so much but we have had her for 7 years now and I would never give her up.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:43 PM   #19
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The trainer called today and we had a nice long talk. She thinks Tess is just nervous, not aggressive. She told us some things the kids can do with her and explained how to correct her at the first sign of nervousness and to then distract her with something she likes. And she explained some ways we can show her who's alpha.

Today she's been great. She has been fine around the kids. She's a little stiff when they go to pet her, but has been tail wagging and upbeat for the most part.

The trainer said dogs don't like to be patted, which I had no idea. That's what DD was doing when she snapped at her. So, I've instructed the kids to only pet her gently on her head and behind her ears for now.

The trainer said, being that she's still a puppy, has not bit, and that she's probably just nervous, that we should be able to correct the undesirable behavior.

So, I definitely want to give her a chance. It's easy to keep a close watch with the kids since they're in school most of the day. My main concern though, is, if she does get better, will she snap one day when it's not expected. I don't want to always wonder if she's gonna snap out of nowhere.

I really appreciate all of the help
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:59 PM   #20
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

At the end of the day... realize this... it is JUST a dog. I am a dog lover, and I have had several dogs growing up. But at the end of the day, it is a dog.. a pet.

Your CHILD is something you can never replace. Dog bites are serious, and dog aggression should be taken seriously. You should never fear for your child's safety with a pet that you own. Ever. If the dog does not respect children, it will get worse. There will be a time when no adult is around, and the dog will feel it has the authority to do whatever it wants.

Dogs think in 'packs'. Who is the leader of the pack? Usually the two adults of the family. Then it analyzes everyone else. If your dog feels that MIL, old neighborhood, and all of your children are on the lower end of the pole, and that Tess has the next rank, it's just a problem waiting to happen. Sometimes you are able to curb this behavior by having your children show dominance towards the dog (holding the dogs food, making them sit and wait, giving treats, walking them, etc.). But this isin't always the case.

We had to make a tough decision like this before, and each day.. I was a WRECK. What is the dog doing now? Where is my son? Did I just hear a growl? Is that him crying? Was it from the dog? I hope he's not in the dog food.. etc. I was on pins and needles, fearful for my children, but had a love for the dog.

Easy solution. Take the dog back. Tell them that the dog is dangerous around young children. ANY professional would be able to figure out what kind of training the dog needs before it is adopted again. Do not take up this cross, and bear the burden of training this dog. Professionals do not use infants for training, they start with adults, and then slowly introduce the dog to children. And since they are professionals, they are able to notice signals the dog lets off when things are going bad.

The average dog owner does not notice raised hair on the back of the neck, a tense jaw, intense eyes, a stand-off look, a tense stance, etc. You are not a professional, and this dog needs training. Your children should not be the test subjects for this dog. If anything was to happen, it would be horrible. Even a little bite can scare a child into their adulthood.

Dogs are nice. Great dogs are better. Professionals know how to handle most situations. Too many families with children try to 'work with' aggressive dogs and it's just not worth the risk. Your children's safety comes first. I can tell you first hand, when the dog is gone, a weight will be lifted from you. You should never fear that your child might be hurt from a pet.

Not all dogs are like this, that is something to realize. When my son was 6 months old, our aggressive dog would growl as he crawled by (feet away). My son could never get near him. Our loving family dog would let him pull his hair, pull his ears, poke his teeth, and jab his tongue.. and the dog would just lick my son's arm and snuggle with him. Family pets are out there. Don't get stuck with one that isin't trust worthy and 100% loving. Especially when you have little ones!
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