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Adopted a rescue dog
Question about children!

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#1 amberlee

Posted 26 November 2012 - 04:00 PM

On Friday we bought Stanley the 2 year old (?) maltese x poodle (?) from the shelter. Our main criteria were great with children (aged 4 and 22 months) and not yappy.

Well we haven't heard a woof out of him and he is so calm and gentle, and settled in really well. He plays really well with the children and even when the youngest one fell/stepped on him he just moved away calmly. Perfect I thought!

He wasn't interested in any new toys we got him, but he really took to one my mum bought him yesterday. The neice and nephew were also playing with him- grabbing the toy and throwing it. I could see he was getting sick of the throwing and just wanted to sit and chew it so I asked the kids to leave him alone. My neice went up to take it again and he growled. Into the toy, not really at her.  

Then this morning I was lying on the ground reading to 4 year old and he had his head resting on me. When my 22 month old walked over carrying a book he growled at her.

Now I'm worried that maybe he's not so trustworthy ? I haven't taken my eyes off him now when around the children. Or maybe he is just settling in, trying to find his 'place' in the family hierarchy and I should give him a chance to settle more?  Or is this 'normal' dog behaviour that even a non-agressive dog might demonstrate?

I'm aware of making sure he know's his 'place' in the family eg. not allowed up on beds and chairs, feeding him after we've been fed and making him sit while my 4 year old puts his food in the bowl etc.

Any tips / ideas etc?  Thanks!

Edited by amberlee, 26 November 2012 - 04:01 PM.

#2 morgansacre

Posted 26 November 2012 - 04:10 PM

Spikey is the one you want to read this and answer.

But it sounds to me that as you have only had him for the weekend, he is still trying to find his place in the family. If my dogs do something I don't approve of, like the growling, I use my growling voice and say a short sharp NO! He will learn this is unacceptable. Don't shout at him, as he won't understand what you want, but the growling voice is a warning they have gone to far.

It is going to take time and patience from all of you to sort this out. But he will get it.

Good luck.


Edited by morgansacre, 26 November 2012 - 04:11 PM.

#3 FiveAus

Posted 26 November 2012 - 04:14 PM

The growl is a warning. Don't stop him from growling, or he might very well escalate to biting without warning. At least he's letting you know he's not happy about something. Contact the place you got him from and ask their advice.

#4 Feral*Spikey*

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:25 PM

The first thing that I would say is that NO dog is 100% trustworthy around children.

Children don't understand dog cues - such as growling and signals to be left alone - which is why so many end up being bitten by the family pet (I'm thinking of my sister here many years ago, I was telling her not to blow in the dog's ear because he didn't like it, but she kept doing it - 6yo's are not the brightest, and three stitches later...). Your niece was given lots of clues no doubt, but ignored them and so was given the 'more serious' version of a warning. Be firm with the child, and provide the dog a place to escape from the tots. Crate training is likely to be a godsend in your family situation, please do it - it will also give your dog a place to hide from the kids when he's had enough fun and games.

So supervise all interactions and tell the children what the dog is doing to tell them they're being annoying. Education is important.

Next thing - by allowing the dog to be on you, you've given him a 'promotion' in the pecking order, so to speak. Without having been there, its hard to say, but there is a chance he thinks that he's higher that your 22 month old. This happens frequently, mostly because 22mo toddlers are not exactly together in the communication and mobility stakes. They are not 'in charge' of anything, so dogs can mistake that for being like a 'puppy', which is a reasonable (if incorrect) assumption. The dog might think he's 'alpha' to any puppy-thing.

What to do - dog on the floor at all times. Dogs do not sit on laps, nor are they invited for cuddles or to rest their body on you. Make sure your dog sees you carrying your toddler, and sees you rewarding the toddler BEFORE he gets anything. If you are on the floor, the dog can be beside you, but not on you (I say this, although my DH allows our youngest Elkhound to lounge all over him - but she doesn't do it to anyone else, its their 'thing').

Also teach the toddler to be in charge of handing our some sort of regular treat. My DD started giving our dogs their evening treat around that age, with my hands-on assistance (my big dog wouldn't take them from her otherwise).

Finally, he may be slightly 'possessive' of his things, including food and treats. This can be a problem if you don't address it, because there will come a time when he has something in his mouth that he cannot have, and you want him to hand it over without a fuss.

Usually, for toys and objects we use the 'give' command, and reward/swap a treat for the object. I'd suggest that you, and the kids play this training game. You should start until he gets the hang, then let the kids have a go at offer/swap, until he is happy to relinquish whatever it is he has in his mouth. Eventually, he'll work out that bringing things to you and dropping them might also be reward-worthy. wink.gif

#5 Feral*Spikey*

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:27 PM

Oh, and get off to obedience training. It will make a world of difference, and really get him to understand his place in the world (plus it will reinforce the habit of doing what he's told - poodle's are too clever by half, and this can be a problem if they get bored).

#6 FiveAus

Posted 27 November 2012 - 05:11 AM

To the OP, learn to recognise the dogs "aversion" signals.......signs that the dog isn't comfortable with what's happening to him, or the environment he is in....and act quickly to change things (ie, remove the dog) before the growling starts.

They are easy to recognise.......yawning, and lip licking. As soon as he starts doing either of those things, it's a sign that he's unhappy. Change things for him. Pop him in a covered crate, or take him to a quiet room. And always be very aware of what's going on between him and the children.

#7 amberlee

Posted 27 November 2012 - 06:47 AM

Thank you so much for all the replies and advice. I know it is so true about getting the pecking order right and that is what we have to work on.  I learnt the hard way with my last dog- a pomeranian I allowed to be a princess but really she was a monster. Fortunately for most of her life we were child-free so it was only us that had to deal with her obnoxiousness!

So I am not going too stuff it up this time!

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