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Dog has nipped a child

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Annmarievictoria, Nov 20, 2012.


  1. Annmarievictoria

    Annmarievictoria PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all,
    I'm very new to this so please excuse me if its a bit waffles.

    I have a cocker spaniel, male, around 3 years old. I got him 4 months ago from rehoming kennels, he had been in working kennels before that and I have little knowledge about his previous life.
    He's very active, very excited by new people but has been a lovely dog so far.

    This weekend he was visiting my 5 year old cousin and family. The little boy was pestering him, loving him, and my dog was excited but was settling down. He then growled jumped up at my cousin (he was standing right in front of my dog looking down at him) and nipped his lip, drawing blood. This has upset me greatly and I feel completely at fault. He's never done this before, an I don't really know how best to deal with it. Obviously I'll be avoiding contact with children and am considering muzzling him when out just in case. Iv never taken him to official training as he already knew basic commands when he came to live with us an didn't appear to have real behaviour issues.
    Sorry for the big rant, any advice would be greatly received.
    Thankyou, Ann-Marie and mike the dog
     
  2. blossom21

    blossom21 PetForums Senior

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    Oh dear how horrid for you,but I think poor dog was saying Im settling down,back off, Ive had enough. If he's never reacted like this before I can't see it merits a muzzle. But there are others on here with more experience than me no doubt. I have a sprocker spaniel adopted 6 months ago aged 3 and he's super around my granddaughters,but they know when I say the dog has had enough and to leave him alone. :nonod:
     
  3. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

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    When a dog bites anyone it is a serious matter, particularly when it has bitten a child.

    Does the kennel from whom you obtained him have a resident behaviourist or one they can call on.

    That is your first port of call.

    Putting a dog in a muzzle, if not properly handled, can cause serious problems, and so advice should be sought from a properly qualified and reputable behaviourist.

    These will normally, not always, belong to one or more of the following bodies

    APBC
    CAPBT
    UKRCB

    and will not usually see a dog other than via a vet referral in order that any underlying medical conditions are ruled out.

    We cannot really advise over the ether as a) it is against the codes of practice of the relevant professional bodies and/or b) there is not anyone suitably qualified to advise on the forum who would do so via this method.

    In the meantime, ensure he cannot access children.
     
  4. Annmarievictoria

    Annmarievictoria PetForums Newbie

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    I think I just feel very responsible and would never ever want it to happen again
     
  5. GermanShepardOwner

    GermanShepardOwner PetForums Senior

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    First of all you have only had him for 4 months, thats very little time and he will still be finding his feet and settling in. It can take dogs months to truly settle and show their real personalities and start to feel comfortable.

    You say he jumped up, i have had this happen before to myself when a dog has jumped up at my face and teeth caught my lip, it doesnt sound intentional IMO, just over excitement and frustration.

    You should have either removed the dog from the situation or told the child to ignore the dog and leave it alone. The dog may well have been stressed aswell, which you should learn the signs of stresss etc and then you can remove him from the situation before it escalates.

    I wouldnt avoid children, thats just avoiding the issue and i dont feel it was an intentional bite. You need to do some training and make him learn to calm down when told and focus on you. You need to stop the jumping up, and over excitment. Coming from working kennels he may well be used to high energy so you need to make sure you are providing enough exercise and mental stimulation.

    Also work on greetings with him, make him sit when greeting people etc and only allow him to when calm. And make sure you do not allow children/adults to pester him and over fuss him when hes excited.

    I would also read up on body language, alot of people dont realise their dog is stressed, anxious in situations and then attacks occur.

    Dont feel bad, it does not sound like an intentional bite, even if it was then i feel it can be dealt with by training and correction.

    I wouldnt muzzle at the moment personally, keep on lead, keep close eye and do alot of training. I would also contact a trainer to help you.
     
  6. Annmarievictoria

    Annmarievictoria PetForums Newbie

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    I think it was an intentional nip- he growled as he jumped
     
  7. Annmarievictoria

    Annmarievictoria PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks, I've taken all of that on board and will contact a trainer tomorrow
     
  8. GermanShepardOwner

    GermanShepardOwner PetForums Senior

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    Growling doesnt always mean aggression, dogs growl for various reasons. Of course i would be wary but it does sound like it has come from over excitement and because of the child.

    A trainer will be able to advise you more and help you move on, but i think if the dog had wanted to bite the child, it would have done it at a more easier area than jumping up etc.
     
  9. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Could have been the situation, as you said the 5 year old was pestering him, and loving him, (does that mean hugging and cuddling the dog). Not all dogs want be continually pestered and hugged. As you say you dont know his history either he may not be used to children. Dogs can become anxious in such situations. You said too that he gets exciteable with strangers in an exciteable state first off, and then being pestered and "loved" He could have become anxious by it all and reacted, he may just have been pestered and pushed that bit too much. Dogs can feel threatened too with people looming over them and if he was standing over him and looking down at him when he had previously been pestering him, and the dog was just trying to settle down like you said it may have gotten all to much.

    Growling is often a warning and a sign the dog wants space and to be left alone, they will often air snap too as a warning, if your cousing was standing over him he may just have caught him on the lip as he air snapped.

    Cant say for sure of course just going by what you said, but a possible feasible explanation, especially previous to this he has shown no such behaviour before. Kids always need to be taught respect for dogs too and not allowed to pester and which can push them too far in certain circumstances.

    For your own peace of mind and to make sure it would certainly be worth speaking to a behaviourist and getting them to assess him, and if its needed training and management put in place which they will also help you with.

    There are others but CAPBT - COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers is one organisation that should find a behaviourist in your area.
     
  10. Annmarievictoria

    Annmarievictoria PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks, that's useful I'll look into that
     
  11. Yorkiemorkiemum

    Yorkiemorkiemum PetForums Senior

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    The last advice you received comes from someone who really helped me with my last dog. I would just like to add that my yorkie who died was a really beautiful dog but couldn't stand being over petted I would watch him closely with children and I could tell be his body language that he had had enough but he would nip a child but the next adult that invaded his personal space. He would growl, then show his teeth then if they still ignored his warning he would nip an ankle!
    My Mother used to say that no matter how loving a dog may be with you, you never know how long they will tolerate a Childs attention. Children don't read body language too well and will continue to annoy even though we think they are being loving, to a dog, particularly as this is all new to your dog, this was an unpredictable situation and the dog became stressed.
    I would get him checked out if you are worried but just keep an eye on him maybe he just hates a housefull of people, my old dog would go to bed when the family turned up!! Don't blame him really lol
    All the best but dont be too hard on him or yourself he is a dog after all sometimes we expect too much.
     
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