Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Dog Growled at My Child - Now What?


We have given advice in previous articles that parents should not punish the dog for growling at a child. Please see these previous articles for additional information and tips:

http://doggonesafe.blogspot.com/search/label/growling

This advice is consistent among dog behavior experts and the reasons are as follows:

  • The dog may associate the presence of the child with punishment and may become fearful of the child and thus more likely to act aggressively in the future.
  • The punishment may suppress the growl, but will not improve the way the dog feels about the child or the actions of the child which precipitated the growling. The dog may go straight to a bite in a future episode since the inclination to growl has been suppressed through fear of punishment.

It just does not make sense to take away the dog’s warning mechanism. Be grateful that you have a dog that warns and does not go straight to a bite if he is upset or frightened. Your dog is not bad or mean, he is extremely upset or agitated and is letting you know in the only way he can. Because growling represents a serious problem that requires careful handling, we recommend that you hire a professional dog behavior consultant to help you solve the problem. This must be done using positive reinforcement-based training and not with aversive methods (shouting, making aggressive sounds or movements at the dog, physical threats, tossing items at or toward the dog, yanking on the leash etc). The goal of this training is to teach the dog to enjoy the presence and the actions of children so that he does not feel the need to growl at them. We cannot give step by step instructions for this since all dogs are different as are all children and all family dynamics different. It may cost you a few hundred dollars to consult a professional to solve this problem, but it will be money well-spent and will be insignificant compared to the overall cost of dog ownership. The safety of your children and the dog are worth much more than the cost of a professional consultation. Perhaps the only trainers in your area would use punishment-based methods? More and more behavior consultants are using video conferencing to help clients remotely, so this is a potential option if you can't find someone suitable in your area.

Parents have asked us what they should at the time if a growling incident occurs. The purpose of this article is to answer that question.

Before we get into that, be aware that the growling dog may go on to bite before you have a chance to take any action or in spite of any action you may take. There are no guarantees that any of our suggestions below will prevent a bite. The best ways to prevent a bite are to learn and recognize the subtle signs that dogs send long before they get to the point of biting or growling and intervene proactively, supervise all interactions between kids and dogs, teach kids to be respectful of the dog and condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of kids.

If you are very close when the dog growls do the following:
  • Step in between the dog and child and pick up the child if he is small, or instruct him to move away if he is too big to pick up.
  • Do not grab the dog by the collar. This may cause him to lunge and bite the child or turn and bite you.
  • Put the child in another room or at a safe distance from the dog. so that the child may engage in a new game.
  • Call the dog to you, praise and give him a treat for coming and then put him in his crate with a long lasting chew toy or in some other location away from the child or the site of the incident.
  • Invite the child back to talk about what happened. Try to determine what precipitated the growl. For example, Is there a dog toy or food in the area? Is the dog guarding an area (his mat or the couch possibly)? Did the child threaten or injure the dog somehow?
  • Write down the who, what, when, why and how while the incident still fresh in your mind. 

This is not an interrogation or a punishment for the child. Be sure that the child understands that he is being a doggy detective and helping you to figure out why the dog was upset enough to growl. Be matter of fact and not judgmental. The goal here is not to lay blame, but to find out the facts so that you can work with a behavior consultant to prevent this from happening again. If the child is too young to talk, then know that the dog and child cannot be in the same space within contact range even with your direct supervision until this problem is resolved.

If you are at a distance when the dog growls do the following:
  • Call him to you in a happy voice. Use words like “want a cookie” or “go for a walk” or "who's a puppy wuppy" or whatever sure-fire words will get the dog to change his attitude and come to you. Even if you are feeling angry with the child or the dog, use happy talk. The goal is to make the dog wag his tail and thus be in a happy mood as quickly as possible. A happy dog is unlikely to bite your child.
  •  Be sure to reward him for coming and fulfill whatever promise you made.
  • If he is too engrossed to come to attend to your words, try dropping a book, or anything that is close enough to grab and drop or toss a toy or dog treats or other food on the floor to divert his attention. This is an emergency situation and you need to get the dog’s attention before the situation escalates. Any yelling or perceived threats from you (such as rushing over) could result in a bite to the child.
  • Once the dog has taken his attention off the child and has moved toward you, remove him from the area.
  • Have a fact-finding adventure with the child as discussed above (who, what, when, where and why). 

Behavior consultant Jennifer Shryock has this advice for her clients: "It's only natural to react if you see your child in danger, so forgive yourself if your automatic first reaction is to admonish the dog. Remember that what you do next is very important. You need to get the dog's tail wagging as soon as possible to defuse the bite risk. The best way to do that is with happy talk that you know he will respond well to".

Of course we are not suggesting that you reward your dog for growling at your child. Once the dog has diverted his attention from the child, the growling is over and the dog is thinking about what is going on right now and not what happened a few seconds before. The growling scenario with subsequent reward for the dog will only happen once, because from now on you are going to make sure that the circumstances cannot exist for it to happen again.

Once you have as much information as you are going to get about what happened, write it all down so that you can share it with the behavior consultant. Use this information to come up with a plan to prevent further incidents while the dog is being retrained. If you have a baby or toddler, this will mean coming up with a way to keep them separate so that the child has no opportunity to antagonize the dog. With older children you may be able to agree on changes to their behavior and also the use of crates and/or gates to help prevent a further incident. These temporary measures will be changed as time goes on and the dog and children learn how to interact safely under the guidance of the behavior consultant. In the meantime it is your job to ensure that the scenario that resulted in growling cannot be repeated. The ultimate goal is to change the dog's feelings about the child so that he can be a full member of the family and not isolated because he poses a threat.

Resources for Parents and Kids
Family Paws Parent Education
Doggone Safe online body language course
Doggone Safe wesbite pages on body language
Dog Detective ebook
Body Language Flashcards and ebook
Find a Behavior Consultant 

69 comments:

  1. Whenever a dog growls at our child, we parents usually tend to scare away the dog. Well, that's a protective parent's natural instinct. But we must understand that this isn't the right way to protect our children dogs. The right attitude is to divert the attention of the dog rather than hurt or scare them. Through this, the dog won't view the child as a source of punishment. Also, it is advisable to teach the child to love and respect the dog.

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    1. That's great advice if you have practiced with your dog when the child wasn't moving around, now that the child can crawl and hurt the dog, and then the dog turns around and bites the child, it's a bit too late. The dog will then need to be put down and the child can be killed or damaged for a life time. That is not a win, win situation. Parents have to prepare your dog for a new baby or think about what will happen if the dog does get overwhelmed. You can get a professional to come in and teach the dog and the owners new tricks, but is very costly, or think about someone or a rescue group that will be able to take the dog out of harms way. It is not only the child we have to think about, we also have to think about the dog!

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  2. Okay, but what if my dog growls and snaps at my daughter (who is 19 months old) when she doesn't touch him, or even try to? My dog tends to growl when my daughter is ten feet away from him, and if she is closer he snaps at her. It stinks because she loves dogs, but she is not safe near him.

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  3. You must immediately get help from a behavior consultant who will use positive reinforcement methods with the dog. If you cannot afford this or there is no-one available then you should consider rehoming the dog. The dog is not happy and your child is in clear and immediate danger. The dog has been very clear with his warnings and eventually he will bite as a last resort and then you will have a dog with a bite in his history, a huge load of guilt and a traumatized child. In the meantime you must use physical barriers to keep the dog and baby separate. Baby gates or a crate would be suitable. This is an emergency situation. Contact Jen@familypaws.com to see if she can recommend someone in your ares.

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  4. I have a 2 year old French Bulldog. My son who is 26 has been able to train her and he even plays with her and she is fine. As soon as I am in the room or she is sitting with me and he comes toward me or picks her up she growls and bites at him. We have tried so many techniques but I think we have lacked consistency after 2 weeks of failing results. He yells at her bad, he has tried to turn her over and put her on her back in a submissive manner but she just continues to get more worked up. We tried the distracting her, that helps some until he touches her to put her down, then she growls all over again and escalates. Please any advice would be helpful, I just became unemployed so paying the huge cost of a behaviorist is not possible at present time. Jamie and Frenchie Distress in Ohio

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  5. I have a two year old male mini schnauzer that does not like to be around kids. When children come to our home, he runs and hides under the table. Once he comes out, he only wants to be with me or my husband. He once snapped at our one year old niece and actually bit her slightly on her face. He growled at my husband's 9 yr old brother and now we're scared to have him around children. What do we do??

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    1. Crate the dog when they are around. Watch the kids all the time.

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  6. Hi Monica: In the short term you need to be sure that no child comes near the dog. The dog is frightened and will most likely bite again if a child approaches him, since biting has already worked for him to create distance from children. Give the dog a safe place to be away from children when they visit. The best solution would be to teach the dog to like kids and to eliminate his fear. You need a program from a behavior consultant who will teach you how to use positive reinforcement to change the dog's attitude about kids. Please see the list of resources in our article and also read our other articles(referred to in the above article) for more information. This is a serious situation and not something that we can give you a cure for in a blog comment. You really need a professional to assess the situation.

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    1. My chi bit my niece in the face. She crawled under the table to get to him. I have kids sit down and let the dog go to them. . I always watch and try to teach the kids to understand his cues. Of course they don't get it but I watch and he has gotten a lot better with kids

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  7. i have a labradoodle who is 3 years old. We have also have 9 year old twins who she adores. She is an extremley soft dog and has never bitten however if she comes into contact with other children she growls at them, the total opposite to her reaction to adults who if they stop to stroke her she squats and wees, she loves any kind of attention! Obviously this is a concern, can anyone help?

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  8. Hello and thank you for your comment. It sounds like your dog becomes uncomfortable with unfamiliar children. This is not unusual but is something I highly recommend you seek the help of a positive trainer. Growling is a way dogs let us know they are uncomfortable and keeps people away. Unfamiliar children are unpredictable and can be of concern for your dog. I would get help immediately and not put her in this situation where she feels she needs to behave this way. This only allows her to practice this behavior. Working with a professional will really help you all!
    You mentioned your dog also squats and pees when unfamiliar adults pet her. This also indicates stress and discomfort with these interactions. it sounds like you dog is very comfortable with your family but is having some issues with unfamiliar people. Again, this is not uncommon and can be worked on with a trainer who uses positive reinforcement. Good luck and keep us posted!

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  9. Hi, my 1 yr old dog is a sweet loveable guy. However, we have had 3 incidents of the dog growling at my children. All seem to be while the dog was resting and the kids laid next to him to snuggle, he would turn and growl. We told the kids not to invade his space when he is resting but want them to be able to lay near him all together on the couch. Kids are 5 and 8. Please help!

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    1. Hi Dog Lover: Your dog has told you very clearly that he feels uncomfortable with the kids being near his resting place. It may be your dream to have the kids and dog all snuggling on the couch, but the dog may not like this. You may be able to train him using positive reinforcement to accept and even enjoy such interaction with kids, but it is not safe for kids and dogs to sleep together. The dog could be awoken suddenly from a dream and snap by accident. See our recent blog post on this topic. Also search this blog for the topic of resource guarding for more information about this. If an adult dog is growling at the children for any reason we recommend that you seek help from a behavior consultant who will use positive reinforcement to help the dog learn to accept people coming into his space. It is good that he growls and that the kids respect this - much better than going straight to a bite. On the other hand, he may escalate to a bite one day and he may start to protect a wider space for himself. Please check out www.dogsandstorks.com for more parent education. You can contact Jennifer Shryock who runs this site to see if she can consult with you or can recommend someone in your area. Thanks for being a great advocate for your dog and kids!

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  10. Hi. Great article and I'm really glad I found it. I do have a question, if you have the time.

    My husband and I recently adopted a rescue, a beagle/shepherd mix around 2 years old. He was found as a stray so we don't know about his background. When we adopted him he was pretty shy and fearful. He never hid from us, but instead wanted to be always around us and was nervous in new environments. He would sometimes get down very low when a stranger approached and growled twice when this happened.

    In the last two months, he has really improved. He is much more comfortable with strangers and has gained a lot of confidence. We have him in an obedience class where he excels. I have noticed that some, but not all, young kids (under 8) seem to still make him uncomfortable. Our obedience class is at the humane society and so there are some chilren around. We any children pet our dog or approach within a couple feet, but I have noticed that when he sees some small kids within 5-10 feet he will very softly make a noise that could be a growl. He never bears his teeth, lunges, or anything else. He is generally a vocal dog. He doesn't bark, but he does groan and grunt often when we pet him or when he is playing.

    He is a very gentle boy and loves to cuddle and be close to people. We don't have kids now, but may in the future, and I want to make sure he is safe. How concerned should I be about this behavior? Will his growing confidence help in this area? I plan to keep him in obedience classes and we start a rally class next month. Thanks for any insight!

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    1. Obedience classes are terrific and the more you go, the more confident he will get. He is clearly still uncomfortable around children and so you should work on this. You could try asking the kids in the class to toss treats to him as they walk by. They should stay out of his growl zone and just toss treats on the ground. Any time he happens to look at a child without showing anxiety, give him a treat. This will help him learn that kids mean good things. Before you get to the point of having kids in his space, you should talk to a behavior consultant so that this can be done in a safe way. It is not reasonable to use other people's kids to teach your dog to be close to kids or have them touch him. Before you have your own kids it is essential that you prepare the dog. Please contact Jennifer Shryock of familypaws.com for expectant parent education. She has some great free resources and will also be able to work with you, or recommend another consultant in your area.

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  11. Hi, we have 2 cocker spaniel girls aged 10 months old. One loves the children, she always runs up to them wagging her tail and sitting next to them, but she gets herself out of the way when the little ones start cuddling her a bit too hard, (i do stop them whenever they do), but the other one stands her ground and growls at them. Twice now she has growled and lunged at them snapping instantly, even my 10 year old who stroked her to sleep, whilst he was stroking her still she growled and immediately lunged and tried to bite him. I just cant tell if she is trying to actually bite them or nip them as a warning. she is so sweet and obedient normally. Please could you give me some advice. many thanks

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    1. This snapping and growling is a clear warning and could easily escalate to a bite. Your options are to rehome the dog (before she has a bite history) or hire a behavior consultant who will use positive-reinforcement based methods to teach the dog to enjoy the children and not feel threatened by them.

      http://doggonesafe.com/find_a_trainer

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  12. I need an opinion please~ we adopted 2 sibling puggle puppies we were told they were affectionate I have a special needs child, they were 12 weeks old they tousled all day like Tom and Jerry and barking was deafing. the female growled at my child when she picked her up~ she may have pulled her aliitle but when I had her on the deck fo some time away from other pup ~ I petted her on the head then gave her water, then picked her up to bring inside and she growled at me. I did give the female to another home ~ but the problem is I feel guilty now. I just got afraid knowing a special needs child sometimes doesbt pick up on clues easily. actually we are having a hard time even with the one he is almost 2 yrs old and has the reactive barking it is very hard. he is very stubborn infact I don't think he has learned much sadly, he is paper trained put eats his poop. He has never growled he loves my husband and snuggles up to him and tolerates my child.we got them from a friends friend and saw the parents he mother dog was high energy and a barker and the father was calmer and quieter thanks for listening!!!

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    1. I am sorry to hear that your dog has these issues. Your first concern of course is for your special needs child. It would be best to keep the child and dog out of contact with each other and hire a professional to help you with the dog. These problems will not get better on their own. Rehoming the dog may be the best solution to removing your child from risk.

      http://doggonesafe.com/find_a_trainer

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  13. Hi I have an 18 month springer spaniel. He has growled at my children a couple of times. The instance is when the dog has one of their toys and kids try to take it of of him. He has also chased a boy on a bike jumped up and opened his mouth. Any advice appreciated

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    1. Please see our articles on resource guarding for help with this: http://doggonesafe.blogspot.ca/search/label/resource%20guarding

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  14. Hi I need a bit of help, my dog goes for my Nephew whenever he comes near me, as my dog is obsessed with me, how do i deal with this?

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    1. Your dog seems to be guarding you as a favored resource. This is very dangerous behavior and will likely escalate to the point where the dog will bite your nephew. It would be best to confine the dog when your nephew comes over. Be sure that this is not a punishment for the dog, so he should have some yummy chews or a stuffed Kong to keep him occupied while he is confined away from your nephew.

      You may be able to teach the dog that your nephew is not a threat, but this will require a behavior consultant. Find someone who will use positive reinforcement to change the dog's attitude. See our How to Find a Professional page for more info: http://doggonesafe.com/find_a_trainer

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  15. If your dog growls at your child, this is a serious warning. We advise that you get help from a dog behavior consultant who will give you a training and management plan, or will advise that the dog go to a home without children. This is not something to be ignored.

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  16. I just moved to CO, and we took in a 1 year old lab from someone who could no longer care for him. We have had him for about 72 hours. He has been a GREAT dog. His previous owner had a 2 1/2 year old son, so he has grown up around small children.
    This morning my neighbor came over with his 5 year old son. JT (the 5 yr old) walked in and let Honcho smell him, petted and said good dog. Then he walked by honcho and went to stand by my 2 year old son. During this time I was having a conversation with my neighbor. About 60 seconds later I heard Honcho growl, then he lunged at JT while growling/barking. It scared me and my neighbor. I immediately put Honcho in the garage. What do I do? I think he was protecting my son. However, I cannot have a dog in the house that "may" attack small children, or anyone for that fact.
    As of right now, I am taking him to an animal rescue. Any other suggestions?

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    1. This dog should definitely not be in a home with children. It is not worth the risk to keep him. You are doing the right thing to find him another home and get him out of your house where your child is at risk. The best chance for the dog most likely comes from lab rescue (search Google for labrador rescue in your area). Be sure to tell them what happened so that they can have him assessed.

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  17. For the full 6 years of her life, our Beagle/Jack Russell has always been an extremely loving animal, around kids and adults alike. My husband and I welcomed our first baby into the world 3 months ago and we introduced the two with positive reinforcement and treats for good behavior. The dog is fine around the baby with 2 exceptions: 1) she growls at the baby when the baby cries and she's close by (i.e. both on the couch) and 2) she incessantly licks the baby's mouth when she gets excited (to the point I pull her off the baby and she growls at me, rushing back to lick the baby.) Could the growling at the baby's cry be because the sound is too loud for her? Is the licking a dominance-establishing thing? How do I change this behavior? Should I be worried?

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    1. Hi Charli: Congratulations on your new baby! You are right to ask for help about the dog's reaction to the baby. Growling is a serious warning and the obsessive licking is another sign that the dog is stressed. The dog is feeling pretty anxious and he needs to learn some new behaviors so that he can do those instead of being stressed over the the baby to the point that he growls. You should consult with an expert in dog-baby safety to be sure that you create a safe situation for both the dog and the baby. You love them both very much and it would be tragic if the dog hurt the baby. The dog is doing his very best to tell you that he can't tolerate the current situation. You should keep them apart for now and never let the dog be alone with the baby, or in any kind of situation where he can reach the baby - not even for a second. Not even to answer the phone or turn to get a tissue. This will be necessary to keep them both safe until you have talked to a professional who can give you a training plan. You need someone who specializes in the dog/baby relationship and who knows how to use positive methods to help the dog adjust to the baby and be comfortable, and most importantly not a threat to the baby.

      Please contact Jennifer Shryock of Family Paws right away and she will be able to help you or to recommend someone in your area. You may have to spend some money to solve this problem, but it will be more than worth it to keep the baby safe and to have a happy well-adjusted dog. You can contact Jennifer at info@familypaws.com.

      Good luck! And good for you for asking for help!

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    2. Charli: Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

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  18. Great article but I'm at a loss still.

    We adopted a 5 year old lab 2 months ago. For the last 2 months he has been a dream. Great with both my cats and both my kids.

    Out of no where this weekend he has begun to growl at my 2 year old. The last time he did it it was a full blown snap at him. Its in the living room every time, and usually its just my 2 year old simply reaching to pet him, or just getting close to him.

    I'm worried its Mickie (our lab) trying to show dominance over my son.

    Since I cannot change the way my 2 year old behaves, there isn't a lot of 'investigating' we can do. I don't want to give up our dog but I don't want these growls to escalate to a bite. Behavior training is SO expensive but I fear its our only option and I'm not even sure that would curb this behavior.

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

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  19. My 10 month old lab cross collie snarled at my friends child when she acedintently banged her head off his sbould i be worried that he will be aggressive

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    1. Snarling is a strong reaction to what sounds like a minor accident. It could be a one-time thing because the dog was so startled, but it does bear watching. If the dog shows any additional signs of being worried around children, some training to make him more accepting and to enjoy children is in order. Taking him to training classes or having a behavior consultant visit if the dog is still showing signs of anxiety or aggression would be a good idea. It's also a good idea to separate dogs and kids if there is going to be rowdy play where the dog could get over excited or accidentally bumped.

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  20. I have a 5 month old mini labradoodle and a 6 year old child. The labradoodle is very sweet. He loves my husband and I, and from what we can tell enjoys our son (for the most part.) In the 2 months we have had him though, he has shown aggression towards our son in relation to a bone (my son tried to take it away) and a toy. This has happened 5 times. Mainly the dog growls and snaps at him. Once it broke the skin and my son had a small, very superficial cut but I have a very hard time with the situation. Our dog trainer tried to recreate the situation but the dog did not react. For the most part he is great 99% of the time but it is that 1% that makes the situation unpredictable and uncomfortable. I have contacted the breeder and are thinking of rehoming him. Any advice would be appreciated.

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

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  21. We rescued a 6yr old chihuahua which we named Paix, who is only 6 lbs. He is very lovable and usually calm. He didn't even bark until his second day with us. Our problem started on his third night when our grand-daughter (who is 12 yrs old) gave me a hug good night, Paix lunged to attack her. He had been sleeping on my lap and jumped and lunged at her. Earlier that day she said he nipped at her. While in our presence, she plays with him, feeds him, and talks him for walks with no problems. Its only when she hugs me. Now my husband who is a cancer patient is worried that our new dog will do the same to him.

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    1. Paix may be better off in a home where no children will visit, or confined when your grand daughter visits until you can resolve the situation. He is anxious and he has probably done lots of snapping in the past to create distance from people that worry him. If he is to stay with you, you will need to hire a behavior consultant who will show you how to use positive training methods to help Paix overcome his emotional problems.

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  22. We recently adopted an 8 year old German shepherd pit bull mix. She listens well, has never shown any aggression toward my family, including my two year old and eleven year old. Yesterday, while talking with a neighbor, my kids started playing with her 8 year old. After about 20 minutes, our dog snapped at the 8 year old, snarling and growling like a monster. She stopped as soonas I told her too, and she was on her leash, but now I am worried and concerned. Our dog has played with lots of kids and dogs in our neighborhood without incident and now I'm concerned with her behavior from yesterday. What do you think I should do and approach this situation so it doesn't occur again??

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

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  23. Hiya everyone need a little help, we have a 9 month puppy cross with a husky and a bull mastiff he is absoulutly gorgeous but recently he has been nipping my little sisters without warning and we have no idea what to do??? we dont want to give up on him because he has an amazing temerment to him and he is such a good boy.....

    if anyone has any ideas on what we can do please message me on.........
    Comill@live.co.uk

    Dont use this email but for replies thanks everyone love to hear from people soon! x

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    1. Please hire a professional behavior consultant to help you. The puppy may still be young enough for effective training. This issue may not go away by itself and could get worse as the puppy goes through the "teenage" stage. Be sure to choose someone who will use positive reinforcement and not punishment to teach the puppy not to bite.

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  24. Recently my 3 yr old puggle has started growling at my 1 yr old son. The dog has been great with my son until the past few weeks to the point the dog will growl at me and my wife when we try to separate him from my son too. I plan on calling behavior trainers tomorrow. For now I try to watch the signs and keep the dog and my son separate. I have also tried having my son give him treats to show him that he poses no threat. I just don't understand why this is happening now and he showed no signs of discomfort until now. Any insight would help!! Thank you

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

      Delete
  25. I HAVE A 6TH MONTH PUPPY THAT GROWL AT STRANGE CHILDREN AND I DON'T WANT HER TO DO THAT SHE RUNS AWAY FROM CHILDREN SHE DOESN'T KNOW. HOW CAN I HELP HER AND ME THRU THIS

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

      Delete
  26. any tips that don't involve hiring a behaviourist / specialist consultant? $$$$$$

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    1. Read every article in our blog and on the blog at www.familypaws.com. Check out kikopup on YouTube and learn to train and solve problems using the methods the Emily describes in her videos.

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  27. Hello Joan I just stumbled across your page and I need some help. We just got o puggle a few days ago and when he gets excited he will lung and bite and wont stop till u are holding him on the floor ,he growls and if u correct him he goes for your hand, but the thing is ,is that he is a wonderful wanting to please kind of dog, he loves to wash your face , cuddle and play but as I mentioned earlier when he plays he get aggressive( he grew up playing with a pit bull so that 's where he gets it from) so I don't know what to do .So we just give him some time to get used to the new place or what ...we don't have obedience classes where I live a definitely cant afford the ones in Halifax>>>What do I dooo!

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  28. Hello joan ,my name is saede and we just got a puggle almost a week ago and even though he has calmed down he still will lunge for your hand if u correct him.I have a 6 year old sister who is nervous being around him afraid cause he does play witgh his mouth ,but too a 6 year old that's biting and it scares her .He will bark and growl at you if u don't play with him or correct him, but he also is an amazing dog. He also loves to cuddle an d is very eager to please .When he gets rowdy and does what I listed we have to push his bum on the floor and stare him down ,while standing and it calms him down, but I don't think that is a good method .Joan please help us with our little Sammy. What do we do!

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

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  29. Hi I have a staffordshier bull terrier she is 20 weeks old she has started barking an growling at my son who is 5 he hasnt been nice to her he has hit an kicked her now every time there out side she just growles an barkes at him an if he moves she tryes to nibble him what can i do to stop it an help it getting bad

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  30. Hi got a problem I have a 2 yr old cross breed english bull terrier cross staffie a couple of days ago my pal brought his child round to my house my dog was in her cage (normally shes brillient with kids) she out the blue snarled growled and lunged for thier child but with the rest of their kids shes perfect what can I do to nip this in the bud now before shes bites a child thanks

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  31. We have a 1 yr old dauchshund/black lab who is anxious, especially around children. We also have an eight year old who he adores most of the time but when ever she initially enters a room he cries, growls, lunges and snaps while I hold him back. As soon as she finds a place to sit he calms down and everything is back to normal until she leaves and tries to re-enter the room he is in. He is also anxious when guests come the house although my husband thinks the behavior is worse when I am present. What can I do? Thank you!

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

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  32. Thanks so much for this post! I have been really anxious about how my dog would with little Rory in the house, and this made me feel a lot better. Keep up the great work here!

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  33. Awesome post! I really love your blog, keep up the great work here!

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  34. Hello, My parents have a 20 month old coton de tulear that is very sweet and loving around people she knows and likes, but will growl and snap or lunge at strangers she does not like. She also lunges and growls at my almost 3 year old granddaughter if she goes near my parents or me if we are holding her. We pull her back and she has never made contact with one of the kids, but it does sound and look very aggressive. Our hope has been that she would get used to the kids and stop seeing them as a threat, but that has not happened. My Dad does not think she would ever bite, it is just a warning, but my son and daughter-in-law don't want the dog around their children because they fear she is going to bite one of the kids in the face. My dad said that if she was going to bite someone she would have already done so. My parents are very attached to the dog and it upsets them to not be able to bring the dog to family gatherings. Any advice would be appreciated.

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

      Delete
  35. I have a 7 year old chiachua who's loving and playful but when my dad tries to go near my mom,sister or me she starts growling and barking at him and when were not around she cuddles and plays with him why does she act like that ?

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  36. She may be guarding you for herself and sees your dad as a threat. When you are not around she doesn't need to guard. This is just a guess based on what you have written. To know for sure you would need to have the situation assessed by a professional who can see what's going on. You can read our various posts here on resource guarding and try some of the suggestions, the same as you would if the dog is guarding food. Be careful and watch out for signs that the dog is guarding around others as well. She may not restrict it to your dad and she will bite if her warnings are ignored. Read the book Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs by Jean Donaldson to get help on this issue.

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  37. I have a 11 year old jack Russell terrier mix that I got from a shelter when she was 2. My son is 5 months old and very interested in her. In the beginning, she would allow him to touch her (always with us holding him). Today, he touched her back and she made a little growl. Immediately they were separated and no snapping occurred. I'm thinking about keeping them separated for now on, but is there a way to get her comfortable with him? Whenever I talk to the baby she gets in the middle, jumps in front of me so I will say hi to her first.

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    1. Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407.

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  38. Hi there, i have a question please. we have a 6 year old Alsation, he is adorable around us but has bitten before, once in the face of a child, but i dont know if the little boy hurt him, then also a girl of 19 years old in the stomach. also dont know what happend there, he seems not to like hats and jackets. i have a 9 year daughter which he loves, but her little friend that visits our house he growls at and walks away . she does not understand why he does that and then tries toe comfort him. i have told her to stay away from him but she does not under stand. they have cats at home could it be that he smells them. will he snap at her!

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    1. This is a very dangerous situation! This dog has bitten twice and will do so again. He has done his best to warn that another bite is coming. This has nothing to do with the smell of cats. For some reason this child (and maybe other children) make your dog anxious and he feels threatened. The risk is very high that he will bite this child if she continues to be allowed access to him. This will be a tragedy for your family, your dog, the other child and her family. A bid dog like this can do a lot of damage to a child even if it is just one snap. You must be proactive in keeping him away from visiting children and not rely on the children following your instructions to stay away from him. This is 100% your responsibility!

      Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407

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  39. I have a lab pit mix and is 2 yrs old and is aggressive towards childern. I will have a 3 yr old living with me very soon. Will it be in the best interest of the dog and child to muzzle her until she get used of her being her?

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    1. Hi Carrie:

      A crate is better since it gives the dog more security. A muzzle is also a good safety precaution, but the dog may not like the muzzle and may associate it with the child, making things worse in the long term. Here is a article about how to introduce a muzzle so that the dog likes to wear it:

      http://doggonecrazy.ca/articles/article_pets_muzzle.pdf

      Here is the number for Family Paws Hotline - just for situations like yours. Please call as soon as you can, or if you feel you are in a crisis situation: 1-877-247-3407 FREE

      Delete
  40. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. deleted because it was accidentally posted twice

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