26 answers

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

G.

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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.

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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.

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G.,

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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.

1 mom found this helpful

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

1 mom found this helpful

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.

You should get the dogs vision checked. My friends dog would growl at my daughter when he was formaly kid-friendly. It turned out the that dogs vision was getting bad (as a 2 year old).

L.

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!!

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.

Hi G.!

Do you have the Discovery Channel? If so, Ceasar the Dog Whisperer is a great program for sound advice on how to train you to treat your dog as a "member of the pack". Your dog can become a calm submissive dog just by changing a few things. You will see that you need to take charge of the situation before your dog starts the act of growling at your children. If handled correctly this can be changed before you consider the extreme of finding a new home for your dog. I strongly suggest taking the time to watch a few episodes!

Good Luck!

M.

Our dog is a Golden Retriever Chow mix. We had her two months before our daughter was born. Chows and other breeds can be very protective of their family. Cheyenne was extremely protective of our daughter and still is of both our children. But she NEVER growled at our children only at others who came to close to them as babies. If she had I would have immediately removed her from the house. Dogs are dogs and can turn on anyone. We know that Cheyenne does not do well around others and therefore we deligently keep her seperated from them. She is a loving wonderful addition to our family and has gotten much more melow as the children have grown, now 5 & 3. I love dogs and I love Cheyenne but you must ask yourself, why is your dog growling at your child? Certainly, it is not a protective reason. It is easy for us to keep Cheyenne away from others but we would never be able to keep her away from our children. If you chose to keep your dog you must never play rough with her and never leave only with any child.

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.

I would try an obedience school for the dog before just getting rid of her. Talk to your vet and see if they can advise you on a good one. The dog is reacting to the baby's movement, as the alpha dog towards a smaller member of her pack. Biting could happen if you don't take some steps to prevent it.
So talk to your vet is my advice. Pets are good for kids.
Good luck!

Hi G.. We have a dog as well, and I can understand your not wanting to get rid of her, but if it were me i would have to let the doggie go. Dogs and the chance of kids getting bit scares me anyway, and the fact that the dog growls would scare me even more. This is the best advice I can give you, and I hope it helps. Shepherds are known to be aggressive dogs as well. Angie

I too had aver similar situtaion with my dog a DALMATION. She would snarl at my children. We did take her to an animal behaviorist that was recommended by our vet. They put her on an anti-anxiety medication similar to prozac. She is much improved with the medicationa and some behavioral techniques?? we were taught to implement. Maybe this would also be an option for you. Best of luck to you.

Is your dog doing a mean growl or just an annoyed growl. We have a basset hound that was just fine with our twins while they were babies, but once they were able to move around and come to him, he seemed to start and get irritated with them. Now that they are older, he is just fine with them again. Our dog went through this because, we think, the place that we purchased him from had a young child who was mean to all of the puppies and he associated any small child with that. When he growled at them, he never showed his teeth, it was more of a get away and leave me alone growl. You just need to keep
reassuring the dog that it is OK and unless she has bit at your son she may just need to learn that he isn't going to hurt her. Just a suggestion. You might also try obedience training. Hope all works out for you.

As silly as this may sound. You need to take this up with your vet. See what the vet thinks. Vets know what more about animals than we do, so if he feels that the situation could turn bad, then he'll be honest with you. I know that Chows and Akita's have a hairpin trigger, so can go from happy to angry, in a heartbeat. Please be careful and talk to your vet as soon as possible.

Dear G.,
I agree with Melissa wholeheartedly, and also with Jessica. If you insist on keeping the dog, you run the risk of your child getting hurt or worse. If you feel you must keep the dog, be prepared to make it an outside dog, or keep it kenneled, and never let that baby alone for even a minute with the dog. It does suck to have to even think about getting rid of a "member of the family", but in this case I don't know how you couldn't. Reread Melissa's comment. Although it sounds harsh, I totally agree with it.
Good luck to you!
L.

We had the same problem with our miniature schnauzer. We owned him before kids and after our son was born he became quite "cranky", especially once our son started getting on the floor and trying to curiously touch the dog and figure out what it was. This made our dog growl sometimes and jumpy too, he tried to get away from our son. But literally once our son began the transition from crawling on all fours to upright walking the dog began to care less about him---maybe recognizing him more as a human like my husband and I than another "dog" on all fours like himself.

One thing we do when we cannot offer our close supervision is keep the kids and dogs separated. Our bulldog isn't mean and has never growled at the kids but she gets very excited and wants to play with them not realizing how heavy she is and can knock them down easily. To prevent injuries we keep the dogs in our kitchen with a baby gate separating the dogs from kids, or in their kennel. Once our kids are a little bit older we can hopefully start transitioning back to letting the dogs have free roam of the house again, but we've found this solution to work for us w/o having to give the dogs up until the kids get bigger.

Definitely talk with your vet before giving up your family pet. There may be a solution that can save your dog from being given up and you the guilt of having to do so. Vets hear these stories ALL THE TIME, I'm sure he/she has some answers for you.

I would find a good home for the dog. I know that this will be difficult, but, imagine how difficult it will be for you to take your son to the emergency room because he was bitten by the dog. Maybe you have a friend that will take the dog, and that way you can still visit. Also, if this dog does bite your son, you run the risk of instilling a fear of animals into him. Best of luck with your decision, J.

I know the dog maybe a family pet and you hate to get rid of it but it maybe for the best cause any dog can turn on a child. you can always later when the baby is older get another dog or pet. I once new a 6 year old girl who was raised around these 2 dogs since she was a baby and they were always gentle with her til oneday the dogs decided to play tug a wor with her and she went through 7 surgeries and even had to have a hair transplant. So if the dog is growling at him and other children I sugest getting rid of the dog before something happens don't wait for something to happen prevent it before it happens and find the dog a new home.

GET RID OF THIS DOG!

All dogs have a threshold of frustration that they will reach and when they do they will bite. I had a lab/chow dog and though he was a wonderful dog for many years, I didn't react quick enough when he started to growl. We only had about 4 or 5 growl/warnings before he nipped and one or two more before he bit. The first time he nipped I made excuses for him because it was over food and I figured I could fix that by feeding him away from kids or people. But it wasn't enough and he did bite.

I know it hurts. But it's going to hurt a LOT more if your son is getting plastic surgery on his face.

S.

Dear G.:
Growling is a sign of aggression. Since you don't know everything about your dog's ancestors, you don't know what she's capable of. It could be that, though she was a good dog to have around when your son was a newborn, she may not be a good fit for your son now. I guess the issue for you and your husband is, is keeping the dog and going through behavior modification to retrain the dog really worth the time and money (and would it work, and would your son be safe during the retraining?), or would it be easier to find another home for the dog and start all over with a puppy from a reputable breeder? Food for thought: my oldest son, at eighteen months, accidentally fell on a setter of ours, and with my husband and I right there, the dog attacked our son and clawed and bit his face. I don't even want to imagine what would have happened if we hadn't been right there. He doesn't remember the incident, but today, at age 25, he still has a little scar.
Good Luck,
J. H.

The dog has got to go. I have had two sons bitten by dogs. My 15 yr old was bit in the face by a dog when he was 7 years old and still has the scar on his face. My 17 month old baby was bitten on the head by a dog we had gotten for my 15 yr old. If the dog is growling at the baby......it is only a matter of time before your beautiful baby is bitten...or even your friends child. Do not allow any children to be around this dog....the dog is not fond of children and since it can not talk....the growl is its only way of letting you know that it doesnt care for the children. That is ok....that doesnt mean that it is a bad dog...It would be a great dog...for someone who doesnt have small children. We had an Akita for many years and they are very stubborn dogs.....beautiful dogs..but not for children. Please...dont allow babies around the dog...I would hate to see something happen that would ultimnately end in the dog paying the price for the incident. The dog is letting you know it doesnt like this by growling..please listen.

PLEASE do not wait any longer and get rid of your dog!! I speak from experience. There is an issue of dominance going on in your house and when your dog growls he is exerting his dominance over your son.

The dog I had for 11 years began growling at my son right around the time that my son got mobile. One morning last April the dog went after my son and bit and scratched him in the face. We were so lucky the wounds were only superficial.

It's inevidable. Please find a safe place for your dog to go out of your house.

R.

I would try to keep the dog out of the room whenever your son is having floor time. And definitely take the dog to an obedience training class, something that would work on problems with little kids or babies. A trained and resbonsible instructor should be able to help and tell you realistically if the problem can be fixed or if you need to find a new home for the dog.

I have a dog that is also kinda like yours. Ours doesn't like to be laid on and we growl too. Basically try to explain to your lil one that the doggie doesn't like people laying on him or her. Other than that just keep a very close eye on your dog when they are around your lil one just to make sure that everything is ok.

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