Please help rescue dog just snapped at daughter

(28 Posts)
Bluesalsa Thu 09-Jan-14 14:18:17

We have only had our rescue dog for a month she is an 8-10month old cross breed and we were assured by the rescue that she was safe with children - we have a 3 year old and a 5 year old. Until today she has been very friendly with everyone and the kids love playing with her, she does jump up and she does have a problem with 'mouthing' but we haven't been too worried as thought she just needed training.

Today she was chewing a hide bone and my daughter was sitting next to her stroking her, I was in the same room but on the phone so I didn't see what happened but I heard her snap at daughter then daughter started crying, I asked her what had happened and she said the dog had put her teeth in her mouth there are no marks on my daughter but she was very scared and the dog definitely put her teeth on her to 'warn her off' as well as snarling

I don't know what to do now, I don't want to over react but I can't jepodise my childrens safety? Should I give her back to the rescue? Was it my fault for letting my daughter stroke her whilst she was chewing? What should I do?

TheLeastAccomplishedBennetGirl Thu 09-Jan-14 14:29:49

A month is still very new for your dog, and yes, she should be left alone whilst eating/chewing.

HoneyDragon Thu 09-Jan-14 14:33:44

Surely the rescue informed you that you don't leave children and dogs alone together?

Also, you drum it into your children that they never ever touch a dog that's eating.

Your dog is still very much a puppy as well. Was it it a reputable rescue centre?

HoneyDragon Thu 09-Jan-14 14:34:49

Sorry, I sound blunt, but if it's your first dog I would have thought this was all covered?

TheLeastAccomplishedBennetGirl Thu 09-Jan-14 14:36:04

not as blunt as me, Honey

and what you said

Bluesalsa Thu 09-Jan-14 14:39:50

Yes I think it was a reputable rescue, she was in a foster home not kennels and had been around children although not living with them the dog was not alone with my daughter I was in the same room I just didn't see exactly what happened as I wasn't watching.

Now I have calmed down I can see that I shouldn't have let my daughter stroke the dog whilst she was chewing and I won't let that situation happen again but I have to be able to trust the dog

Bluesalsa Thu 09-Jan-14 14:43:41

She is not our first dog we had a 15 year old that died a few months ago but she stayed well away from the kids and they never payed her much attention either. I can see that I have been really stupid letting this situation occur and I have learnt my lesson.

TheLeastAccomplishedBennetGirl Thu 09-Jan-14 14:45:11

You can trust a dog, trust it to protect itself.

But you should never leave it alone with someone unpredictable.

Like a child.

Does your dog have a safe haven where it can go to chew? might be a good idea to set it up with one, and make it a rule for all of you (dog included) that is where they go, and no-one should disturb her.

MissBetseyTrotwood Thu 09-Jan-14 14:57:30

You have to take measures to make sure this can never happen again; you know what to do.

It's good the dog showed bite inhibition. Ours air snapped just once at my oldest DS (who was very shaken) because he'd space invaded - a good, distant warning and we didn't punish the dog for it. If the dog had wanted to bite, he would have done.

Give the dog some quiet space. It does shake you when something like this happens.

Yes, you have to be able to trust the dog but that doesn't mean you and your children can do anything you like and the dog has to accept it all.

I can take a bone (or indeed anything) away from both my dogs if necessary. This took training and practice to get to a point where they trusted me. When they are in their dens with a bone, everyone is under strict instructions to leave them alone. Same goes for their food bowls.

We have lots of chews and toys lying around which do not have as high value (to the dogs) as eg a bone does, and they will happily give them up to anyone who will play with them.
It does take time to build up that level of trust, though, and you have to get to know your dog very well - some are much more defensive about food and possessions. I think a dog from rescue might be more likely to be more touchy about food (although our rescue isn't at all, so again, every dog is different!)

I agree with other posters - teach your dd to leave the dog alone when it's chewing something (or sleeping - another one that often gets the dog snapping is being abruptly and unexpectedly woken up).
Does your dog have somewhere it can retreat to? A safe place where it can take its chews would be good for the dog and for your dd.

ADishBestEatenCold Thu 09-Jan-14 15:05:42

I am sorry your daughter got such a fright. A rotten experience for you too, and for your new dog.

I don't want to add to your distress, but I do think this episode was entirely your fault.
You have only had your dog a month; it is an adolescent (not much more than a puppy) with training needs you have already identified; your children are very young and haven't yet learned to respect the boundaries between a child and a dog;, and yet you allowed your little daughter to cross those boundaries, while your dog was eating, and while the interaction between small child and dog was unsupervised.
I think your little girl is incredibly lucky that your very new young dog showed remarkable restraint by warning her. It was a warning and the dog did show restraint.

What to do, though! First of all, enroll in good professional positive training classes for you (and take your dog along too, he may well pick up some tips smile).
You could also opt to have a qualified dog behavioral professional (your vet may be able to give a recommendation) come to your home.

In the short term, immediately, ensure that your children are always supervised when interacting with your dog. Ensure that your dog has a safe, quiet place to go (crate, bed, whatever) where the children will never disturb/touch him. Ensure that his eating time (chews as well as meals) is undisturbed and respected.

I'm sure there will be better brains than mine along in a minute to advise you further, but the last thing I will say is 'don't panic'. We all make mistakes, but this one doesn't sound so huge that it can't be rectified and I am positive that there is plenty of scope here for your children and your dog to go on and have a lovely, happy, devoted life together.

Good luck"!

HoneyDragon Thu 09-Jan-14 15:17:19

The good news is that both your children are at a really good age to learn. Loads of good advice out there as well.

Also, it has a huge shock to go from well mannered older dog that has perfected avoiding small children to new puppy.

Bluesalsa Thu 09-Jan-14 17:51:18

Thanks for all the advice, I can see I have been a complete idiot and I won't make the same mistake again.
I have stair gated off a bit of the hallway as a safe area where she sleeps at night and I put her when we are eating etc. but she never chooses to go there on her own except to eat and often whines when I shut her in at meal times. We live in a very open plan house so I have struggled to work out the best place to put her, have considered getting a crate but her foster home thought she wouldn't need it.

kitsmummy Thu 09-Jan-14 18:53:25

My dogs have the most lovely nature ever with children and I'm generally pretty lax about supervising them together, HOWEVER I will not let the children go near them when they either have a bone or a squeaky toy as one of them in particular gets v possessive over these things

shinook123 Thu 09-Jan-14 19:24:50

The dog should have been evaluated by a behaviourist before being rehomed especially with young children.
The behaviourist should have tested the dog with how he behaves concerning food aggression.
Most charities won't consider rehoming a dog with any kind of aggression whether it's food,toy,touch etc...
They will spend months if necessary training and helping the dog overcome this aggression.
My Father works for the dogs trust and all dogs are evaluated by professionals.
I would telephone the charity for confirmation of this.
I would never rehome any dog with young children without him/her being evaluated.
You should be able to touch a dog when he eats or take the tastiest of treats from out of his mouth if he has been trained correctly.
I would recommend obedience classes and clicker training your dog under the guidance of a good local trainer.
Stop treats for the time being and only use them for training purposes.
Also include your children to train the dog,they will have fun and your dog will respect them as his leaders.

toboldlygo Thu 09-Jan-14 20:06:32

From what the OP has written this dog hasn't displayed any kind of aggression at all, just plain old resource guarding.

This has some ideas for exercises that can help prevent or reduce resource guarding and in the mean time I think a crate or utilising the gated area better will help prevent future problems, as already covered by others. smile

I'm really glad you asked this OP, though not, obviously, really glad you had to go through this. Our dog, who is 6 months has just recently displayed guarding behaviour with rawhide chews. I can take them off him easily, but I cannot let ds near him when he has one. Because I then discovered that ds can't be trusted to leave ddog alone when there is a chew present, I introduced a 'no rawhide chews when dc are around' rule. I then discovered that dh can't be trusted to abide by this rule. It is so true what people saysay - it's not the dog who needs training, so much as the humans!

Ddog, the dc and I started positive, clicker-based training yesterday. Ddog has a den he could chew in (but doesn't, even though it is a dc-free zonezone - he is a 'people dog' and does not like to be separated from us) and I am working hard on getting ds to 'think dog'. It isn't easy and it isn't fast, but I think we've made some moves in the right direction, so here's hoping. Good luck to you too!

toboldlygo, thank you. That PDF is really useful to me too.

HomeHypno Thu 09-Jan-14 23:14:21

Never let a child go near a dog when they are eating. Even very gentle dogs can snap.

A trick I was recommended is for the adult to teach the dog that no harm is meant by approaching their food is by regularly going and giving them more food while they eat. This way they associate someone approaching their food with nice and positive things and become more trusting.

Owllady Fri 10-Jan-14 11:31:09

Is it those pig skin things you are talking about?
I stopped giving them my dogs YEARS ago as the one always git grumble, grumpy and I know my mum old dig used to do too. Yet with nothing else
!
Take all the advice here too

shinook123 I'm not sure that all that can happen before the dog is found a new home, as a lot of it is trust based and needs to be trained and learned with the new family, surely?

Homehypno, thank you. I've put that tip into practise now and it is going well.

He goes nuts over the knotted 'bone' treats. As of yesterday he discovered that under the table is a good place to retreat with a chew and ds has respected that, so it's good news all round. I don't let him have rawhide chews when the dc are about. Just got to 'train' dh now and we're all set.

Craggyhollow Sun 12-Jan-14 20:55:44

Why do you give him chews at all? Mine never have them

He loves them. Carefully managed, they don't cause any problems. A bit like the dog himself, really. Or the kids. He's teething and finds relief in the chews. He has toys, but the chews he views as 'special'.

Elibean Mon 13-Jan-14 18:38:38

Just to add to the good advice here...

I had a lot of worry with our rescue pup (5-6 months when we got him) and children, in the first year or so after we got him. He started off very submissive, but as he got 'safer' with us he got braver - and adolescence kicked in, of course.

We had episodes of growling or even snapping to warn kids away from him when in his bed, from him if chewing bones or chews, etc. Not just kids, either! But it was all guarding, or fear - he needed space to get used to people, and trusting them.

Wasn't ideal for a family dog, really, but we got a wonderful behaviourist in who sorted us out. We learned to warn all visitors to leave the dog alone, till he got to know them. We made sure he had safe areas where NO kids, or adults, were allowed to disturb him. We never gave him bones or chews except when he was alone in the garden, or in his crate. And we gave visitors treats to feed him at random intervals. The stair gate went back up, so kids could be free of dog upstairs.

All worth it. Mouse is now well over 3 years old, affectionate, and absolutely lovely. I still wouldn't let a child stroke him when he has a chew, he still has his bones outside when we're not using the garden, and he is never disturbed in his bed. Thats just respect, I think. There was a fair bit of child/visitor-training involved, as well as dog-training, but it was needed - poor old pup had trust issues, unsurprisingly, having had a duff start in life.

Adolescence passing makes a huge difference, too!

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