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Advice Needed; Dog Dislikes Children

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Rhiannon Hornabrook, Apr 22, 2020.


  1. Rhiannon Hornabrook

    Rhiannon Hornabrook PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone,

    I really need some advice. My 9 month old puppy, Kal, (Collie X Huntaway) doesn't seem to like children very much.

    My partner has a 6 year old son who comes over 2 nights a week. The 6 year old and Kal play together a lot, and Kal isn't bothered by his presence overall. However, if the 6 year old goes to stroke him, Kal doesn't like it; he starts to growl and so I ask the 6 year old to stop in case he gets bitten. Sometimes though, I'm so focussed on getting the 6 year old to stop stroking Kal in time, that I probably don't tell off Kal quick enough.

    Kal also doesn't like the 6 year old being near his food. Once, my partner's nieces and nephews came over (ages 8, 9 and 10), and Kal was sat growling not looking at them, so my partner went to pick him up to put him upstairs, when he became reactive and nipped my partner's nose!

    I figure that I'm best sorting the relationship between Kal and my partner's son first, but not sure the best way. We have him give Kal treats and play with him a lot, but it's not helping the stroking situation.

    Many thanks!
     

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  2. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    Lots of dogs don’t like children as they are unpredictable. If the dog is growling he is saying to you ‘I’m uncomfortable’ don’t tell him off for this. Really if he doesn’t like being stroked do not stroke him I know this is difficult for a six year old to understand. The same with food let him eat somewhere quiet un disturbed. Do not pick him up to remove him. @Lurcherlad im sure she has a copy of the ladder of aggression that is really helpful.
     
  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    Don't tell Kal off for growling.

    The growl is an important communication from your dog and should be respected. Dogs give a series of signals that they are unhappy, but unfortunately most people don't recognise them because they can be quite subtle. To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore the early signals or reprimand the dog for giving them; stopping the dog from giving them would be like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm.

    The ladder of aggression would be more accurately described as the ladder of anxiety but it is here

    downloadfile.jpg
     
  4. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums Senior

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    I agree with Boxer123. A lot of dogs find it difficult to cope with small children - it could be a variety of things, but Boxr123's advice says it all, really. Your pup is indicating that he's anxious about whatever the kids are doing (the 6 year old, may be a bit heavy handed, or whatever - it dosn't really matter) and the wisest thing is to respect that. Ignoring the signs the dog is giving off, or punishing him for doing so can have the wrong effect - some dogs under those circumstances will just stop giving a warning and go straight for the next stage on the 'ladder of aggression' (or 'ladder of anxiety') which could be a nip. The fact that they otherwise play together happily is somewhat besides the point from the dog's point of view - dogs live in the moment, so what went on before is rather immaterial in Kal's mind.

    [EDIT: cross-posted with JoanneF, hence some duplication!]
     
  5. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    As above, not all dogs love kids, or even like them, and that's totally okay. We have to respect that.
    It's funny, we generally don't force other humans to tolerate kid interactions when they're clearly uncomfortable with them, but somehow we think dogs should.
    Kai is also a mix of two rather sensitive breeds, I would definitely give her the space she's asking for.

    Please, please don't tell Kai off for growling for all the reasons already mentioned. Let her know that you will *listen* to her growl and remove the source of her anxiety - definitely continue telling the 6 year old to leave the dog alone. And maybe enforce it even more. This will actually increase Kai's confidence and improve her relationship with both you and your partner's child as she learns that you will look out for her and she doesn't have to worry about the child as much.

    I don't like anyone near my food.
    We have two children - now teenagers but they have grown up with dogs. We had very firm rules around food - essentially leave the dog alone whenever they're eating, resting, sleeping or in one of their 'safe' spots (like a crate, under a desk, etc.)
    There are lots of things you can do to help dogs be more comfortable with any human around their food, but before you do any of those exercises, the very first one has to be that the dog knows without a doubt that she will be left to eat in peace. No contact (not even looking) as the dog while she eats.
     
  6. Rhiannon Hornabrook

    Rhiannon Hornabrook PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for your help!
     
  7. Rhiannon Hornabrook

    Rhiannon Hornabrook PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for the help! Will take this all on board and look out for the signs!
     
  8. Engel98

    Engel98 PetForums Senior

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    Yeh don't tell him off for growling. It's one of the obvious signs that he's uncomfortable. If you tell him off for growling he won't growl and will skip to biting instead.

    When the son comes round why don't you feed Kai in a crate or in a room by himself?

    Only way I got my 5 yr old niece to listen was this:
    "Leave him/her. (S)he WILL bite you. It will hurt and you'll cry."
     
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