Puppy bit toddler...

(39 Posts)
MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 09:02:47

Advice please wise doghousers!

My 12 week old puppy bit my two year old yesterday. I gave the DC a treat each to feed the puppy. He did snatch the treats (with me he waits for it) but I put that down to the fact that they are much shorter than me so he had a better chance of stealing it.

He had finished his treats, then DC2 (2yo) put her hand down to stroke him and he growled, jumped up and bit her hand.

There were no marks on her and she just cried out in surprise. I said "no" and put him outside if the kitchen where we were (there's a baby gate on the kitchen door so he could still see us).

He's getting a bit growly at the moment.

He's starting with a trainer next week and we are working hard to socialise him and take him wherever we go. The DC are told to be careful and gentle and only use their hands to stroke him and not kiss etc. he has a crate which the DC aren't allowed to touch but he rarely chooses to go in it.

I'm pretty scared that he might hate the DC and hurt them as he gets bigger. They are supervised and as above we have rules about not picking him up, how to touch him and we've discussed growling and leaving him alone etc.

We are working on reducing his bite strength which seems to be working and I'm wondering if that why there were no marks on DC2.

It wasn't playful and there was no warning. She out her hand down and he snarled, jumped up and bit her hand all in the space of a second.

Help please.

Kormachameleon Wed 01-May-13 09:09:00

It is so rare for a 12 week old photo show real aggression

They do do a lot of nipping and mouthing though
What type of dog is it and have you had him from when he left mum ? How old was he when he left mum and rest of litter ?

Basically lots of training, treat based and clicker, remove from any situation where bad behaviour is shown, and be consistent

MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 09:14:07


He's a cocker spaniel and I got him at 8 weeks. Since the first day we've taken him everywhere. DH is wondering if he's testing out his boundaries with the DC as he sleeps on our bed and is very big for his boots. I don't really go in for the whole dominance and submission thinking but maybe he has a point.

He is mostly a wonderful dog, he little sticky-up tail is wagging all the time but he is very stubborn. We are clicker training him at the moment and my goodness he has a will of steel!

I love him to bits and want him to be happy here with us and most importantly I want the DC to be safe and happy.

DeepRedBetty Wed 01-May-13 09:19:35

Why on earth are you letting him sleep on your bed? I don't do Dominance/Submission either but there are limits!

HousewifeFromHeaven Wed 01-May-13 09:25:19

I didn't think they docked tails anymore!

KittensoftPuppydog Wed 01-May-13 09:25:45

Having a dog sleep on your bed is lovely. The rescue home we got ours from advises it. Dogs are pack animals and like sleeping in a pile.

MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 09:26:22

All put dogs have always slept on our bed.

I don't think it's that unusual confused

Our dogs have been older rescues though rather than puppies if that makes a difference?

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 09:26:32

Cockers can be a bit snappy. I know it's hard, but try not to tell him off for growling, it's his way of warning that he isn't happy. Lots of environmental management, never leave the children in supervised with him. The kids need to be taught not to hand feed him at the moment, but to chuck them in his general direction and absolutely leave him alone when he has picked them up. I two year old human is soo confusing to a dog. They move funny and they sound funny.

I have a great link for kids and dogs living together peacefully. Give me two secs and I'll find it.

MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 09:26:45

*put = our. Tsk!

HousewifeFromHeaven Wed 01-May-13 09:26:46

For the grammar police:

I was unaware that the docking of tails is still in existence grin

MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 09:28:02

He doesn't have a docked tail. That's why I said he has a waggy sticky up one.

It's always wagging. Very cute!

HousewifeFromHeaven Wed 01-May-13 09:28:40

they move funny and sound funny

Ha ha ha!!

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 09:29:03
MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 09:30:13

Thank you! smile

HousewifeFromHeaven Wed 01-May-13 09:30:38

Oh right! Though someone has pointed out to me that it's still done if the dog is working. The education of mumsnet!

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 09:30:53

Actually Kitten dogs are not pack animals, there is an article on that subject in the link I posted.

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 09:36:00

Dogs tails gan still be docked if they are going to be working and only by a vet.

PlasticLentilWeaver Wed 01-May-13 09:44:21

Not in Scotland, they can't be docked, not by anybody, even if working. Given that more tail injuries occur in the home than when working, the get out clause for working dogs is insane. Off the point though...

I'm afraid I agree re getting him off the beds. Its more about him knowing his place in the pack, and that he is not your equal, rather than dominance.

I would also not be allowing the kids to give treats until you have begun professional training with him. Even though you say the treats were finished, it sounds as if this was a food/possession issue. And therefore one that you can avoid for the moment.

My puppy drew blood on a few occaisions at that age and went through on awful snarly stage at about 10 weeks. He is nine months now and it is all a dim and distant memory now. It was over ages ago. I honestly think it is a stage they go through and mine is the most super chilled easy going (for a terrier disclaimer grin) little guy. He never bites now even playing rough.

Hang in there.

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 09:47:06

Dogs aren't pack animals smile

MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 09:49:55

I think you're right about the bed thing.

So next question! How do I go about it?

I know if I put a basket/his crate next to our bed he will squeal and jump around for ages (he's is stubborn with a capital S)! I just have to ride it out don't I and hope for the best and that he doesn't wake the DC up!

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 09:56:33

If you introduce a crate make it a happy place, feed him his meals in there, put lovely stuffed kongs and chews in, leave the door open at first, then closed for two min, and as long as he, isn't making a fuss, gradually increase the time.

Honestly, I think the bed thing is a complete distraction. As you've said, lots of dogs sleep on beds and they don't turn into Bond villains.

Keep going with the positive training, classes and careful management of DC. If you want him to sleep in a crate, that's fine, but I honestly can't see how it will make any difference.

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 10:41:37

I agree Scuttle. Just because he enjoys the warmth and comfort of sleeping with his humans does not mean he is plotting to overthrow the government grin

KittensoftPuppydog Wed 01-May-13 11:59:18

Actually the 'pack' thing is a contested point. Call it 'social' if you like.
Having had the opportunity to observe dogs that have never been domesticated I can tell you that they will form close companionships and will join together in a larger group for specific goals, hunting and protection.

idirdog Wed 01-May-13 17:08:41

It sounds like you need to work on his impulse control. He is a young puppy who was given food (and allowed to snatch it) and the next time a hand appeared was unsure what to do.

Hold food in your hand and the minute he comes to mug your for it close your hand, I expect he will mouth you, paw you etc say nothing, do nothing but keep you hand shut, the second he backs off open your hand, he will come back again to mouth etc. What you want is him sitting still and then he can have the food.

He will learn this soooooooo quickly if you say nothing and give him time to think. video here explaining it

He is not pushing boundaries, not trying to dominant but is a puppy that needs to know how to behave in certain situation.

It's your choice is a great way for all puppies to learn eg they go to charge out of the crate, you shut the door, however if the puppy is sitting at the back of the crate when you open the door and waits for the release command to come out the door stays open.

MrsWolowitz Wed 01-May-13 17:54:55

Thanks everyone for the replies.

We've been for a walk this afternoon and the DC had a short turn each holding the lead. Obviously we made sure they were gentle and not pulling him.

He's out in the garden having his tea. We are all having a picnic in the garden so we bought his bowl out and he sat back while the DC put the food in his bowl. They then sat chatting nearby while he was eating but not allowed to bother him or get too close. It went really well and I think we might let them feed him every meal time. They enjoyed it and it is probably good for him to see them caring for him and it reinforces to them that he is a real creature that needs looking after.

I really don't want to screw this up and end up with a dog that's aggressive to the DC or unhappy.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 01-May-13 18:01:14

wrt the bite that happened. he could have been guarding his treat if he hadn't quite finished it and thought your toddlers hand was going to steal it rather than pet him.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 01-May-13 18:04:18

wrt the dcs feeding him in his bowl. it's really useful to teach the wait command for this. i have a (massive) golden retriever and by four months he was bigger than my one year old so i make him sit and wait for the command before he can eat his food. if he barges i lift the bowl. he sits and waits automatically now. it really is very useful if the dcs want to feed him, i know he wont barge them out of the way.

dippywhentired Wed 01-May-13 18:51:48

We had a Golden Retriever when I was a small child, and later, a Cairn Terrier. With both of them, we used to make them wait when the bowl was put down as Booyhoo says. When they were puppies, we also used to periodically put a hand on/in the bowl, and also take their nylon bone things for a few seconds, before giving it back. Neither of them was ever aggressive with food (or anything else).

Lilcamper Wed 01-May-13 19:47:22

It isn't advisable to stick your hands in a dog's bowl, or take it away mid meal. If a waiter did that to me mid meal I'd probably stab him with a fork so why should a dog tolerate it? Best that all family members are just taught to leave a dog to eat in peace.

Imsosorryalan Wed 01-May-13 20:02:12

I agree with not taking their food away. However, in the perfect puppy book ( which I highly recommend!) it says to add tastier bits to their food as their eating, eg ham etc. this way they always percieve a hand near their food as a good thing!

dippywhentired Wed 01-May-13 20:41:19

How do you stop a puppy turning into a dog who is aggressive/ possessive over food, toys, etc.? What happens if your toddler drops something tasty, dog goes for it and so does the child? If a dog has never learnt this lesson, this could turn nasty. Genuinely interested, by the way. Seems like there are trends in puppy training, much like bringing up children. My childhood dogs were puppies 15 plus years' ago and it was still about 'the pack', making sure the dog knew the owner was 'top dog', etc. We got my Cairn when I was 15 and she died last year, so it is a long time since I had a puppy.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 01-May-13 20:56:04

you teach a command to wait for food and reward when he waits. do it with all sorts of scenarios, feeding time, 'dropped' food, treats. do it with toys, socks (i always drop them when taking stuff out of the machine!) anything you can think of that he might make a grab for if it was left lying around or dropped. you train it so that it becomes his first reaction to wait for a command when he sees something on the ground or fall.

always make sure the reward is worth it. so when training him to wait if he sees a bit of chicken dropped on the floor then reward with something he likes more than chicken.

i know there will be times when stuff drops and you dont get to him in time but keep going with training and ignore if he does eat something before you get to him or if he ignores your wait command. dont punish or give any attention. distraction is also very handy to steer him away from a dropped item if the distraction item (favourite toy or treat) is something he really loves. it gives you time to lift the dropped thing from the floor.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 01-May-13 21:00:23

also wrt possesiveness over feeding time. give him peace to eat. that means dcs need to know that a dog must not be approached when eating so he never feels as if he has to warn you off. if he aways feels relaxed when eating then his stress levels will be low if say you have to suddenly approach him or lift his dish for some reason, a warning growl or snap wont be his first reaction because he'll not associate his food with that feeling of having to protect it.

dippywhentired Wed 01-May-13 21:09:27

Thanks for the info Booyhoo.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 01-May-13 21:22:51

hope it's helpful for you. smile

dippywhentired Wed 01-May-13 21:30:35

Yes, I hope it will be! I really miss my old girl (and so do my children), but we can't get another dog at the moment as we're living abroad and don't know where we'll be going next. One day, when we're settled somewhere permanently.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Wed 01-May-13 21:40:26

aww, i hope that works out for you.

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