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2 year old springer suddenly snapped.

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Emmamd955, Sep 26, 2013.


  1. Emmamd955

    Emmamd955 PetForums Newbie

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    Our almost 2 year old springer/cocker cross has always been a lovely dog, has her from 6 weeks old and always been surrounded by kids our own are 3 and 6. She is a much loved family dog, well trained great off lead if free to run around and very loyal but yesterday for absolutely no reason she snapped at my friends child who had reached out to stroke her. (As she has many times before) she caught her fingers leaving a mark and to say I am devestated is an understatement.
    All thru the summer hols. We have had kids round and they all adore playing with her fetch etc. she loves it it but when they game ends up getting to much I put her back in the house for some chill out time. I am aware that all dogs can 'turn' but it's so unlike her. She will often growl at my two if they annoy her but it's her warning not aggressive as she moves away. I keep a carefull eye on her mood and if she displays any sort of warnings I encourage her to lay on her bed and keep the kids away.
    Sorry for rambling on but I am at a loss if what to do. The thought of re homing her breaks my heart. And my kids will be broken. But can I trust her again? I feel sick at the thought of her doing it again and she's at vets today for check up hope to rule out any unless as it is so out of character there must be an explanation.
    Any advice would be greatly recieved.
     
  2. Mumtomaddog

    Mumtomaddog PetForums VIP

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    Hi, I really feel for you.
    I used to have a Springer and he was the loveliest lad and not a bit of bother with any aggression, temper etc. They are generally great doggies to have around.

    Could it be that you had missed a warning before she turned on the child? I know that when you're confident that you have a lovely child/dog friendly pet, it can be easy to not be totally 100% on your guard. Please dont take that the wrong way, i am just trying to point out that if we are unsure of our pets we keep a very close eye on them, maybe even the smallest thing was missed? Does your doggie have any weak spots that she perhaps doesnt like to be touched in and the child inadvertently went close?

    I think its definitely a good idea to have her checked out by a vet and see if there is anything underlying that could be the cause.

    Please dont think of having to rehome just yet, all is not lost, see what the vet says and then take it from there. Though i do understand your concerns, all aggression has to be taken seriously.

    I really hope that you can find a solution to this and have your faithful friend back to who she was. :001_smile:
     
  3. northnsouth

    northnsouth PetForums VIP

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    Did you actually witness the event?

    Sorry I only ask as this once happened to one of my children at a school friends house.
    On questioning the other children one eventually admitted they stood on the dogs ear while my child was stroking him.
     
  4. sskmick

    sskmick PetForums VIP

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    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    Has/did the child approach your dog in a way that would have startled her, was your dog asleep or relaxing. Did the child hurt your dog albeit unintentional.

    I would get her checked at the vets to just rule out any underlying cause and closely monitor the children around her. I give my dog time out, a break from the children (our grandchildren).

    I harness and leash my dog when we have guests until the initial giddy half hour has passed, by which time he has usually settled down. If there are children with the guests then I keep Duke on the harness and lead, the children can stroke him but I closely monitor both dog and child. I am probably OTT but for me I have a duty to my dog to ensure he is safe around people. We did have friends round whose child would have tourmented the life out of my dog so I put Duke in a completely separate room. Otherwise I would have ended up falling out with friends. :rolleyes:

    I would be aware that she may not like that particular child for whatever reason and ensure the dog was kept completely separated (in another room) should the child visit again. I suspect a child has hurt your dog at one time or another.
     
  5. Emmamd955

    Emmamd955 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for your reply. I know exactly what u mean I just had so much trust in her but she was sat right by me when she did it that I am not sure if she warned or not. She was looking at me while I was talking to friend maybe she was asking for help to get kid off her as she does fuss her a lot and I usually end up putting dog in kitchen/garden to give her some peace!
    I think the hardest thing is I just can't believe it of her. She is so so soft and the worst thing she does it wee on your feet when u get in cos she's so excited to see u!
    I hope the vet has some good advice because I see no way out other than re home and the thought Of her being with strangers and frightened makes me feel awfull. I can't stop crying. She's my baby :(
     
  6. Mumtomaddog

    Mumtomaddog PetForums VIP

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    I suspect youve hit the nail on the head... if this child does fuss her a lot and shes not too comfortable with it, maybe that is the reason.
    sskmick made a good point that she may not be too comfortable around that child... and keeping them away from eachother is the way to go.

    I understand how heartbroken you are, i know i would be devastated. See the vet, rule out any physical illness/complaint etc then work from there.
     
  7. Emmamd955

    Emmamd955 PetForums Newbie

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    Sorry just seen other replies. I witnessed it as she was sat by me. Don't think she growled just turned and snapped. Girl started crying but even then I said she won't have bitten she's just warning her but obvious she had caught her as she had marks on her hand. I am carefull that I keep a very close eye on dog and kids together and always give her time away if I think to much is going on as she can get giddy and knock them over. Never would I have imagined this.
    I just don't know if il ever relax with her properly and not the sort of dog that can be shut away. She has always been around the family from day one. Usually great with kids and good with other dogs. Never aggressive in fact if she's been naughty she just lays down and pretends she's not looking at me! She really is a soft dog and very loyal ESP to me as I am always home with her.
     
  8. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    If she's often growling at your kids then perhaps she's not as comfortable with them as you think. I have no problem with a dog giving a growl as a warning but if it were happening more than once in a blue moon I'd certainly be looking to address the problem and taking measures to ensure the dog didn't feel it had to escalate to something stronger. And if she's getting to the growl point you've likely already missed a ton of more subtle warnings I'm afraid.

    First thing to do with any out of character behaviour like this is a full vet check. Something as simple as an ear infection can cause a dog to really not want to be touched in a certain way. If medical issues are ruled out then there's always the option to get in a behaviourist and get them to see what's really going on.

    The good thing is the dog did not bite properly. She left a mark, she didn't maim and presumably didn't even break skin going by what you post. This is a warning just as much as a growl but it's a stronger one. I think you definitely need to take action but it's possible that given the right training and management she'll be absolutely fine. If you go down the behaviourist route I would avoid anyone who talks about pack leadership, alpha, dominance etc as that sort of stuff can really escalate anything like this and find someone who uses positive reinforcement based methods.
     
  9. Emmamd955

    Emmamd955 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for your reply. Not regularly but If she growls at the kids a a rule she will get up and move away. I am confident she is good well was, around kids but I guess even the dog! Having grown up my whole life with dogs I was keen for my children to do the same so spent a lot of time socialising her and ensuring she would be fine with them. I prob sound like I am making excuses for her, and for me not being aware but that's the problem I am tuned into her and it is out of character. Hoping vets have some advice on behavior but is it something we can overcome? An will it be better
     
    #9 Emmamd955, Sep 26, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  10. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    Vets really aren't the best people to go to for behaviour advice, you would be much better off being referred to a behaviourist. Most vets don't study behaviour as well as medicine and many still seem to recommend disproven and old fashioned methods.

    It's really not something that can be diagnosed online or a prognosis given but going by what you've posted if this were my dog it's something I'd be looking to work through.
     
  11. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

    Any time you have a behavior change a vet visit is in order to rule out physical issues.

    That said, I tend to agree with others that it's likely she has become sensitized to kids and for whatever reason the child reaching out to her was the last straw and she "snapped" literally and figuratively.

    Sensitization is when an annoying stimulus repeats enough times that you react inappropriately to it. In human terms it would be like being in a quiet room listening to someone periodically sniffle or click a pen over and over and over and over, and all of a sudden you want to throw the pen out the window or hit the sniffler upside the head with a box of tissues.

    It is *very* common for family dogs to end up sensitized to kids. Usually it's because their early signals were missed - that she has growled and often gets up to leave could very well be an indication that she is NOT as comfortable with kids as you think, and her stress levels could be far higher than you realize.

    When you get the vet check, ask for a referral to a behaviorist who if nothing else, can give you some insight in to her early signs of discomfort, and can give you some management strategies from there.
     
  12. Dingle

    Dingle PetForums VIP

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    The main rules with dogs and children:

    Children should respect the dog and vise versa
    Neither should be ever left alone together without adult supervision
     
  13. Emmamd955

    Emmamd955 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for the replies. Feel much better about it now I have spoken about it. Maybe a behaviour expert the way to go the vets said they'll refer us after our appointment tonight if nothing comes of health check x
     
  14. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    Fingers crossed all goes well :)
     
  15. Emmamd955

    Emmamd955 PetForums Newbie

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    Yes I think that's prob it. We prob took for granted that cos she tolerates the kids meant she's good with them. And although the kids respect her I suppose I may have got to relaxed and missed the signs that she's had enough. Unfortunately the kids are young and here to stay. Ideally the dog will be here to stay but I feel anxious that I can't have both :( maybe more training classes, more activity for her might relax her maybe I can help her but I just feel on edge now watching her every move. I am so angry at myself for letting it get to this when I have always been so intent on having a well socialised stable dog. I have got to comfortable I think.
     
  16. Mumtomaddog

    Mumtomaddog PetForums VIP

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    Dont be too hard on yourself. We can all get a little more relaxed than is ideal... thing to focus on is that it was only a nip. Yes, serious enough but only a nip all the same. It could have been worse but youve now been alerted to the fact that she maybe needs a bit more space and so hopefully nothing similar will happen again.

    I'm sure its something that you can work through and you wont have to rehome her. Please dont give up on her just yet... as has already been mentioned, a good behaviourist can work wonders and she can still remain the huge part of your family that she already is. :)
     
  17. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

  18. Wiz201

    Wiz201 PetForums VIP

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    All dogs are potentially capable of biting. Other signs that a dog is uncomfortable with the situation other than growling (which is a sign that most people often only recognise before a bite) is closing the mouth and licking the lips, and not blinking.
     
  19. Emmamd955

    Emmamd955 PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks everyone good advice from you all. Vets said health wise she is fine so have given us information on a behaviourist. Talked about putting her to sleep which is something I can not bear to consider. Re homing maybe but vet says she is a nervous dog which I don't see as obviously she happy and relaxed at home and on walks. I am hoping it's something we can work out with behaviourist.
     
  20. MariaB

    MariaB PetForums Member

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    Oh Emma, Emma, Emma, I could cry with you :(

    This is not your fault, its not the child's fault and its not the dogs fault. It sounds like the dog just caught the child and the dog is probably as devastated as you about that.

    My lurcher Alfie pinched a ten year old boy when he was a four year old dog. I'm sure it was an accident but just like your situation, it came out of the blue and for what seemed like no reason. Like you, I was devastated and cried buckets. My work was in a business that involved lots of people including children and my dog always came to work with me.

    I had become too complacent with him. I allowed everyone and anyone to go up to him and make a fuss because he was such a friendly beast. I made the decision to protect him and ask people to ignore him unless he approached them first and that included my children. Of course Alfie approached my children a lot but he got to say when they interacted.

    He lived well into old age and there was never another incident but that one little nip taught me a hard lesson... a dog is a dog and not a human. They can't verbally tell us when they are p-ssed off and so we need to protect them from becoming p-ssed off.

    I really wouldn't read more into this than what it is. Please give the dog another chance but just change the rules a little.
     
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