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Puppy knocked down a little girl

(4 Posts)
slinkyboo Fri 29-Jul-11 12:52:55

Out for a walk around a lake with a friend and her DCs. My DCs are used to the puppy (5 months old) but the friend's DC were more wary, especially her 3 year old. So I keep pup on lead for about half the walk. Then, thinking all was fine, I let him off. All fine for a while (pup running ahead just sniffing around, he always ignores the DC on this walk as there is so much to smell) then suddenly I hear screaming. I run on and SEE pup jumping up at little girl and sending her flying. sad sad
I ran over and picked her up and pup had scratched her face a bit with a paw. I caught him and - I'm so ashamed - smacked him. I was just so upset, angry and mortified (there were four other people who had seen the incident and I was massively self-conscious too).
The rest of the walk pup was on a tight lead. Little girl seemed fine but would not pat him at the end (understandably). I'm now worried I've given her a phobia of dogs and I feel dreadful. Her mother (my friend) was so nice about it all but I feel like the owner of some demon dog. I wish bitterly I could rewind time and keep him on the lead for the entire walk.
Please tell me that jumping up is 'normal' and that there is not something wrong with the puppy???How do you stop it? Or, more to the point, what do you do when they HAVE jumped up...I am well aware that smacking is NEVER an answer and I feel very wretched and ashamed of that.
I will have him on lead, in crate or tied up from now on if there are any other children around. I feel like a truly rubbish dog owner.

slinkyboo Fri 29-Jul-11 12:53:46

Sorry for typos and bizarre veering from present tense to past tense. And for self-indulgent wallowing tone of my post...I do feel very bad about this incident, though.

alice15 Fri 29-Jul-11 18:14:14

Of course there is nothing wrong with the puppy. It's entirely normal for them to jump up; from the sound of it he was just exuberant and bouncing around because he was enjoying his walk. From his point of view, why shouldn't he jump up? He's a child too, just a dog child, and it doesn't sound as if he was being aggressive at all.
I think this is just an example of the first mantra of dog training - "don't let him do that"! There are lots of ways of stopping a dog from jumping up, which vary in how well they work, and of course different dogs respond differently. I shouldn't beat yourself up unduly about smacking him, either - I doubt he'll have learnt anything from it, but I doubt you'll have damaged him either physically or mentally either - he's obviously not tiny, if he can knock down a 3 year old, and I expect it was water off a duck's back.
Best plan IMO is manage it as you describe - keep him on lead where there are unfamiliar children around, for now - and train an incompatible behaviour that you can ask him to do when jumping up might be an option. If he will come back instantly on recall and walk to heel, for example, he won't be able to jump up, or if he will sit or drop on command, he can do that if you suddenly see an unexpected child. I expect the problem will reduce as he grows up (what breed is he?) Meanwhile, turning your back and ignoring any jumping up will stop it increasing in frequency; you can combine this with teaching jumping up as a command, which you then can let him do sometimes on your terms and not let him do at other times. My biggest dog knows he can jump up sometimes, if I lean towards him, and shouldn't at other times, if I half-turn away when he approaches, which is handy; but of course that only applies to jumping up at you. Most dogs grow out of jumping up at random people eventually, and meanwhile it's easiest just not to give them the chance to do so, where possible. Hope this helps a bit.

slinkyboo Fri 29-Jul-11 20:27:01

Thank you, alice. Very wise words and much appreciated.
I am feeling better now, and we took a small 'sorry' gift round to the little girl earlier.
There was definitely no aggression involved...even when I grabbed him and shouted/smacked him he just looked at me with absolutely no aggression whatsoever. I think the first jump was sheer joie de vivre, and the second was either concern as she was screaming (he tries to lick my DCs' faces if they are crying and seems very concerned!) or excitement thinking she was playing loudly hmm
Thank you again and, although it was definitely an unpleasant experience, it taught me a lot.
Tp answer your questions, he is a Heinz 57 rescue pup...a lot of Labrador and maybe a touch of Whippet!

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