February 22, 2007,
G.N. asks from Saint Charles, MO on February 16, 2007
Growling Dog with My Son
We have a mutt, she is a mix between shep, lab, akita and chow. We had the dog couple of years before our son was born, she seemed very protective of him if other people would go near him while he was in his basinett she would stand between the basinett and the person other than me and hubby. I was wow she loves the baby and being protective but since he has been able to crawl and now is up walking around she is starting to growl at him (it worries me) me and hubby are debating if we should get rid of her, we really dont want to, we want her to stop growling but not sure if that will ever happen, and our son loves the dog he crawls over to her and just puts his head on her back and she growls, but if he is sitting on the floor and throwing a ball or her bone to her she is fine and doesnt growl or if he is sitting in mine or my husbands lap she will come over to him and lick his face or feet or hands. It doesnt make sense dont know what to do anyone have any suggestions on getting the dog to be nice around him and not growl. Oh and to add the fact we had a friend over and her daugther is 15months old and she let this girl hug her and she licked her face and the little girl let her do this my son also lets her lick him and he laughs while she is doing it and she still growls at him. I think she only growled at this little girl once.
Thanks in advance
So What Happened?™
Still have the dog and she is doing so much better with our son. They play together all the time. He throws the ball and bone for her she runs and gets it and brings it back to him. Our son just turned 2 Jan 27th. My hubby, son and the dog were outside yesterday in the snow and playing having fun.
S.B. answers from Wichita on February 17, 2007
My mother in law has a boxer-chow mix. The dog doesn't do well at all around my 3 year old. She has growled at him and snapped a couple of times, just missing his face. I have asked them to put the dog outside when we go for a visit. They are more worried about the dog when we're there than my son. They will sit and say how much she doesn't like it outside and how she will scratch their doors if they lock her in a room. I talked to my husband about it and we've decided that if they don't put the dog out, we leave. And it's funny about Melissa's response, because that is exactly what they say ALL THE TIME: Phoebe would have been so good growing up with kids, she just loves Dylan (my son), she would never bite anyone, she is very protective of us, blah, blah, blah. I would rather be a paranoid, over-protective mother than one that has to spend months in a hospital because I didn't trust my instincts. My advice is get rid of the dog. If my dog ever did that, she would be gone in a heartbeat.
C.D. answers from Oklahoma City on February 19, 2007
I went through the same thing with my pit bull. We had her since she was a puppy. We got her two months before i had my 5 year old son. She would growl at him when he started crawling and walking. She never had any other actions of aggression. I didn't want to get rid of her so i started reading books and going to classes. This is what i have learned. Dogs of the people they live with as packs. The think of the male being the top dog so to speak. The female is next in line, then the dog then the children. Sadie was growling towards Colin just to show him that she was there first and demonstating senority. That being said, i'm not saying that your dog would never bit or hurt your child. There is a possibility. Once we started treating Sadie and Colin equal, the behavior stopped. If i had to just spend time with Colin, i would have a special treat for Sadie. THat is just one story. We had a happy ending. Sadie doesn't even growl at my 8 month old when she is crawling all over her. I hope everything works out.
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L.A. answers from Oklahoma City on February 20, 2007
Dogs often see babies as being in the pack. So there way of teaching members of the pack (especially if they view that pack member as being weaker than they are) is by growling & nipping/biting. To get this to stop you must assert your dominance over the dog & teach the dog that he is not in charge... that the humans are in charge (you, your husband, & your children). So whenever your dog does something that is dominant in nature (growling for example) you must assert your dominance by making the dog lay down & roll over on to his/her back. This is what alpha dogs do in a pack. If your dog will not lay down by command, then you physically make him/her lay down (not by hurting the dog though, just firmly) & then if they don't roll over on their own (they will do this when they recognize that you are the boss) then you must roll them over yourself until they get the point. Sometimes you have to hold them there or repeatedly roll them over until they get it. When I do this with our dogs, I usually make them stay in that position for a short bit (30 seconds to a minute or 2 depending on what they did). You can help the dog to see your child as dominant by holding your child in your arm when you are doing this... the dog sees the child as an extension of you. You must gain control of the dog or else something bad could happen (biting). And always be right there with your child when they are around the dog. For more helpful information, tune to The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Chanel or check out books by Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer). HTH
Just wanted to add that I am very sad to see that there are so many ppl who say to get rid of your dog. In our house, our dogs are also our children & we would NEVER dream of doing this. Yes, the safety of our human child is very important but we would do everything in our power to rehabilitate our dog before we ever got rid of him/her. Dog are all too often thrown away (look at all the dogs being put to sleep in the shelters!). When your child does something wrong (say biting another child) you don't throw them away.. you teach them. We must do the same with our dogs.
Also, in response to another post... females can and often times are the dominant ones in a dog pack. Our female is the dominant one over our male.
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E.R. answers from St. Louis on February 22, 2007
Just a quick note:
I work as a professional dog trainer. I am sorry for everyone's sad stories. But usually the problems I see aren't the dogs, but the owners (not trying to be rude). We are not dogs, so we (as humans) have a hard time thinking and talking like a dog. And we often mis-interpert what we do see and hear our dogs do. For expamle: I hear this one all the time, "my dog loves to jump up on me and give me a hug! he will put her paws right on my shoulders!!" Since we are humans, and for US that is a sing of affection we ASSUME it is the same for our dogs....when in reality that "hug" is a sign of dominance, and you pup is letting you know that he thinks HE is in charge. Pet parents so often miss early signs that a problem behviour is starting b/c they don't understand what they are seeing. Dogs aren't born bad...they learn through experiences. Dogs are instictual, and they need a strong, KIND, leader...and if you aren't one, they will fill that void. Dog MUST have a clear cut heirarchy.
If anyone would like to learn more about "speaking dog" a great book to ready is:
"The Other End Of The Leash" by Patrica McConnell
Most problems we have with our dogs, we unknowingly created ourselves.
I also have many good articles about how to be a good leader of the pack if anyone is interested.
So Kudos to you G., for seeking help now, before the problem gets worse.
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N.C. answers from Oklahoma City on February 20, 2007
I completely agree with Leslie. If your dog shows now aggression towards you or other children then your dog sees your son as her own and is trying to teach him in her way. You must put down your foot and discipline her as soon as she growls. Also, if your dog isn't growling at anyone else, then it is something that can be changed and the breed of dog or sex of dog has nothing to do with this attitude. Most dogs react when a baby is brought into the world. Just as if you had brought home a new dog you must teach your dog how to adjust to the situation. Try rewarding her when she is playing with your son and scold and dominate her when she is growling at him. Take time to fix the problem before giving up. Just be sure to NEVER leave her alone with your son...ever. That is when most bitings happen so have supervised play time. Hope this helps!! If you need anything just email me and I'll offer my help!! ____@____.com
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J.L. answers from St. Louis on February 17, 2007
It seems like it is an alpha dog with a new puppy situation. I would definitely never leave them alone with each other. If your dog is showing any aggression now with the baby it will only get worse as your baby becomes a toddler. You said that the dog acts friendly when you are around which shows that you and your husband are alpha over the dog but until your child is old enough to command the dog the situation will probably never be safe. Dogs are first and foremost dogs not human members of the family. It only understands that there is a new "puppy" and the dog will not be willing to give up his place in the household hierarchy without a fight. And that could be a very dangerous situation.
L.K. answers from St. Louis on February 17, 2007
B.K. answers from Wichita on February 17, 2007
If the dog is friendly most of the time and just growls when the baby comes close to him without one of you holding him, maybe he is trying to let you guys know that the baby hurts him and is trying to get the kid to back down. Babies are constantly pulling hair and scratching because they don't know any better. Would you just sit there and let your son pull your hair or scratch your face without saying something or removing his hand?? A dog doesn't have hands or words, so they use what they have. I don't think the dog is being violent, it's just establishing guidelines, just as it would if it were around puppies. Just make sure that you are always holding the baby around the dog and don't let him scratch the dog or pull on it's hair. If you do that, I would imagine that the dog will be grateful and they'll get along just fine. I don't know anything about the Akita breed, but the other three breeds in this dog are usually protective and gentle...unless you raise them to be mean. Good luck!!
A.B. answers from St. Louis on February 18, 2007
If this were me, I would absolutely get rid of this dog...I would not take ANY chances with my child. We have a lab, and if she EVER growled at my kids or acted aggressive at all, I would not hesitate to find her another home. I love my dog, but your kids need to come first.