Re: dog v children

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Hi Terri,

I do not post on here much but I felt compelled to reply to this because I am so shocked about what is going on in your house 🙁  Anyone here who knows me will know that I have a reasonably relaxed mothering style but I have to say that my (now 3 1/2) year old little boy has never behaved like this towards any dog full stop and i’ve found it a little upsetting to read this post.  I would be totally mortified if he incited a dog into jumping on him and biting at him and for the most part, our dogs obey him already with many simple cues and will sit or lie down, go away, go in their bed, not pinch his food when he tells them not to and also certainly in one case do a very fair walk to heel.  I take on board that they are much smaller than your dog but they’re probably a similar ratio to your dogs/kids and they are also both rescue dogs neither of which had really been around children before and certainly not in an organised / positive way.  I have also had a number of foster dogs which were particularly tricky and my son was able to pick up and apply new rules for these new dogs easily and I managed the interaction where I needed to until the new dogs learned he was a “master” also and not a “sibling”.

The children do not “bring it on themselves” – It is YOU who allows your children to act this way with the dog which will have really ingrained this behaviour, it is also YOU who has allowed the dog to continue doing so for over a year now. 

IMO ….

I would provide the children with a positive set of “dog rules” – if they follow these then reward their behaviour, if they break them with what you feel is something minor / accidental / out of general character for that child then i would ignore it and distract the child(ren) away from the dog.  At the next opportunity show them you are following the rules too and make it clear this is the behaviour you expect from them too.  If they deliberately / majorly break these rules (incite the dog to jump up or bite) then I would perhaps give them 1 firm warning and on the next occasion think about denying them something they would otherwise earn (e.g. if they all have weekly pocket money then they only get this if they have followed dog rules all week without major issues, as things move on i would tighten this up to mean everything except the most accidental or unusual behaviour from them).

At the moment, you are also going to have the dog thinking it can incite the children so you will have to watch them at all times when they are in contact with the dog to police this (this is essential).  You can teach the dog in much the same way as the children.  If the dog shows the behaviour you want praise him gently (so as not to incite him), if he’s a little naughty but not too awful then ignore and distract – try and do this before he gets focussed on the child(ren) and if its a major bad jumping/biting and the child is trying with the new rules you need to step in and seperate the dog and child because ultimately you are the “boss” here.

To help and support your children through this you need to obey the same rules and also teach them how to respond when it looks like he’s starting – try not to make eye contact, turn away, no talking and arms crossed infront of chest or hands by sides with palms against their legs.  You can then intervene with your distraction too and the situation will de-escalate.

This will all happen alot faster if you get to grips with the basics of behavioural conditioning, learn about how your dog communicates and also use clicker training to reward the dog.

The door greeting is easier, you need to make visitors aware of the “dog rules” and also work on your dogs general training so you can do something like put him somewhere and him stop there while you let people in the door and then slowly and calmly say hello 🙂

The exact little “ins and outs” of all this are quite alot to explain/take on in one go so I would suggest with the dog training you read some general posts here and get your rules underway and come back with Q’s 🙂


p.s. if you are thinking of using a trainer / behaviourist please be very careful as *some* trainers can result in a dog which is very unpredictable and even more difficult to control.  There are some reccommendations on here on what to avoid and what to look for 🙂

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