Advanced search

Oh help. My dog seems to have lost patience with DD.

(30 Posts)
LeoTheLateBloomer Tue 27-Sep-11 18:47:50

He's a 6yo chocolate lab, she's a 17mo toddler.

He's had the patience of a saint despite his life being turned upside down. She jumps on him, pokes him, rides him like a horse, all the usual stuff.

In the evenings he's allowed on the sofa and after her bath DD comes down for a play before bed. She always has a cuddle with the dog on the sofa during this time. This evening for the first time he barked at her. Twice sad. She was, admittedly, being a bit manic, but no more than usual.

I'm always talking to her about being gentle with him and giving him kisses and cuddles instead of clonking him around the head but it's so hard for her to understand.

We live in an open plan shoe box so there's nowhere he can go to get away from her.

Has anyone experienced this? I'm really hoping it's a one-off. I'm scared of leaving them together now. Normally I don't think twice about popping upstairs and leaving them together but now I don't want to risk it.

Any suggestions?

toboldlygo Tue 27-Sep-11 18:54:55

Can he have a crate in a corner somewhere, where he can go and not be disturbed (enforce this very strictly, nobody is to approach the crate)? Use a stair gate to block off one room with a comfy bed in it for him, to be used when you can't directly supervise the two of them or he needs some time out?

She must not be allowed to poke/climb/hit him, poor lad. sad

DecapitatedLegoman Tue 27-Sep-11 18:59:59

Leo, this is really not good sad

Your poor dog has basically been abused by her over a long, long period of time. In a home where by your own admission he has nowhere to go. You need to really, really get your act together because this is precisely the situation which ends in a dog bite. Your dog is trying to warn your daughter that he's going to be left with no option but to bite soon - that's what those barks mean. And who could blame him if he did?

You need to go and buy a room divider, and a crate. Tomorrow. I'll post more in a second.

Vallhala Tue 27-Sep-11 19:05:47

"She jumps on him, pokes him, rides him like a horse, all the usual stuff.... Any suggestions?".

Yes. Stop considering such behaviour towards your dog "usual". It is not. it's hugely irresponsible and very unkind.

You're lucky your dog is so tolerant. At least 2 of my 3 would have bitten your child by now... and you may well be demanding that my dog was put to sleep as a result. You wouldn't get what you wanted, admittedly, but there are thousands out there who would punish the dog and either kill him or get rid of him having allowed their kids to pull him around until he got to a point where he lost all patience and snapped. We see that kind of dog in rescue quite a lot but I'll tell you this - I can't recall the last time it was the dog's fault.

I don't speak as an idealist but as a lone parent who had 2 dogs, a newborn and a 19 month old toddler... I know that it's not only unacceptable and irresponsible but also unnecessary to allow a child to pull a dog about.

Stairgates, supervision, a playpen for your child, take her with you into another room if you need to, but FGS change the way you behave whilst you're working on how she behaves, before she gets hurt and you either end up back on here asking me for advice on finding a rescue place or, worse still, you blame the dog and take him straight to the vet.

DecapitatedLegoman Tue 27-Sep-11 19:11:25

Right, a few points. Please try to take them on board - they may come across as criticism but you've been living in a very high-risk fashion, never mind how much stress your dog is enduring.

"She jumps on him, pokes him, rides him like a horse, all the usual stuff"
This is not usual stuff. This is the sort of thing which will cause her to be bitten. If not your own dog, then another dog which is less tolerant, because she will assume all dogs are up for this sort of treatment. Most aren't. If she can't/won't stop this behaviour then you must separate them and only allow them together under close supervision.

"This evening for the first time he barked at her."
I would bet my bottom dollar that he's been showing signs of his displeasure for a long time and you haven't noticed. Turning his head away, moving away from her, flinching, tensing up - lots of little signals. Because what else was he supposed to do - he can't exactly tap you on the shoulder and say "Excuse me but would you mind controlling your child, you're allowing her to hurt me and I'm fed up"^. It is your responsibility to protect him from her. You have got to realise this.

"there's nowhere he can go to get away from her"
To avoid this situation deteriorating, you need to sort this out immediately. I would recommend a room divider so she can be left safely downstairs but separate from him. I would also advise you to start crate training him, although this will take time. The basic principle is that you teach him that his crate is a safe haven to which he can retreat when he's fed up, not a prison, and she must absolutely never bother him in there. Dogs are called out of their crate, nobody ever goes in there.

" Normally I don't think twice about popping upstairs and leaving them together but now I don't want to risk it."

You are insane if you think it is OK under any circumstances to leave any 17 month old alone with any dog. Ever.

Sorry to be harsh but really, you have got to up your game and take some responsibility or she will get hurt.

mankyscotslass Tue 27-Sep-11 19:13:51

Oh your poor dog.

You are going to have to back track enormously with your DD. She should not be allowed to treat the dog like a toy - really, the stuff you have described as "all the usual stuff", isn't. It's a recipe for disaster, and I think you are lucky nothing has happened before now.

Can you invest in something like the Babydan room dividers to keep them seperate? The dog really needs somewhere to retreat to while your dd learns how to behave properly round her.

mankyscotslass Tue 27-Sep-11 19:16:13

And NEVER leave her alone with the dog.

LeoTheLateBloomer Tue 27-Sep-11 19:21:51

I'm mortified sad

I genuinely had no idea it would be causing him so much stress. I've heard and know of so many dogs who have lived in similar situations and it's all been fine.

I have a babydan playpen which currently blocks of the spiral staircase. With the size and layout of the house it would be impractical to use it as a room divider. The only other option is the porch where he goes when she's eating. He sometimes retreats in there so I could try to train him to see it as a safe place that she's kept away from.

Training DD and myself starts tomorrow, I promise.

Vallhala Tue 27-Sep-11 19:24:15

Excellent advice and comment from DecapitatedLegoman.

May I just add that if you use a crate it must NEVER be used as a place of punishment - the dog must WANT to go in there and should be able to come and go freely, not locked in or he will become resentful of being told to go there and won't view it as a place of security.

Besides, it's not he who has done anything wrong and not he who needs seperating from any other members of the household.

Vallhala Tue 27-Sep-11 19:29:34

Glad you're taking it on board, Leo. We doubtless sound very harsh but if the other posters feel anything like I do they'll be shocked beyond belief at what you've written. Hand on heart, if you were to continue as you are it's very likely that it would only be a matter of time before your daughter got, if not bitten, then at least snapped at.

Good luck. smile

DecapitatedLegoman Tue 27-Sep-11 19:31:29

Listen, when I hear people raving about how wonderful their dog is with kids, how it lets them do anything to it, how they dress it up and climb on it etc, my blood runs cold. These children are the same ones who end up in plastic surgery theatres having their faces stitched back on. Dog bites are usually from loved and trusted family pets who have simply had enough - not from random Staffies in the park.

The above link tells you about a project to teach kids about dogs, for their own safety. Buy the disc.

LeoTheLateBloomer Tue 27-Sep-11 19:33:50

The irony is I never let her touch other dogs because I don't want her to assume they're all as docile as ours. I'd at least given that much some thought, just hadn't realised it might ever happen at home.

I'm feeling well and truly 'told' and apologise sincerely to those who are more knowledgeable and dog-savvy than I am for my stupidity.

DecapitatedLegoman Tue 27-Sep-11 19:34:25

... or it would be if I'd ticked the box blush

Well done for taking note that this is a problem and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we'll be here if you need more help addressing the situation. smile

LeoTheLateBloomer Tue 27-Sep-11 19:34:43

And I've apologised to my loely dog, of course. He's had lots of loving.

Vallhala Tue 27-Sep-11 19:37:15

DL, I wish there were a team of DL's going into primary schools and teaching kids these things. All too often we get dogs coming into rescue because they've finally snapped at kids who are allowed to "climb all over them", as I'm sure you know, and as for the number of children who will come running up and try to stroke my big dogs or stick a hand in their faces without even asking me if the dogs are okay to approach... angry

LeoTheLateBloomer Tue 27-Sep-11 19:40:19


Thank you for the link. I might just be asking for more advice further down the line.

DecapitatedLegoman Tue 27-Sep-11 19:41:21

Val, I know. I have the unfortunate job of being presented with these poor dogs with requests for euthanasia because they've "turned". In the vast majority of cases they're lovely dogs who have been left with no option despite their desperate attempts at communicating their stress to their oblivious owners. We do school and nursery visits but perhaps it's time to do some more. This thread has put me in mind for it again.

Good luck Leo smile

alice15 Tue 27-Sep-11 20:45:55

Well done for listening, taking it on board and not just getting angry, Leo. Just adding my voice to agree with everyone else - I have 2 children (big teenagers now) and have had loads of dogs, and one of my children has a small scar on her eyebrow from one of my dogs, because he snapped at another of our dogs when she happened to be crawling between them and got in the way - she was 11 months old at the time. The dog was mortified afterwards - he never meant to hurt her. I'm a vet, I should have known better than to ever, ever have the baby on the floor with two dogs, even though I was in the room and right there (to be fair, we all had flu at the time and weren't thinking straight). It can happen in a second, and you can't ever undo it. My daughter isn't at all bothered by her little scar, which luckily is quite hard to see now, but I still feel guilty whenever I notice it, even though the dog in question died of old age last year.
Snapping is a normal warning behaviour for a dog. A snap that would just communicate displeasure to another dog can scar a child for life (let alone a proper, intended bite, which was not what happened in my own incident), but why do we expect dogs to know just how forbidden a snap is, from our point of view, when it's their natural way of saying "piss off"? They can end up dead because their people are careless and let them get into situations where their natural means of communication is completely unacceptable. Please do what everyone has suggested. It's not fair on your dog otherwise. He is not a toy. I read an appalling case once of a dog that was euthenased for biting a toddler - in Germany, I think - AFTER the toddler had put about 50 staples in its ear. Your situation is nothing like as bad, of course, but the head-clonking and other forms of abuse you describe are all stuff the dog shouldn't have to endure. Understanding not to tease the dog is as important as understanding not to poke things into electrical sockets or play with fire, for exactly the same reasons.
One last point - I would be particularly careful on the sofa. It's his luxury privilege special time, when he's relaxing after a long stressful day coping with the toddler... and then there she is again, bouncing about and disturbing him - of course he's going to be cross about it - wouldn't a human be, in the same situation? Why do we expect dogs to be more tolerant than people would be?
Good luck. Sorry to have gone on so long.

LeoTheLateBloomer Wed 28-Sep-11 06:35:58

Thanks for your additional thoughts Alice.

I've been thinking about this pretty much all night.

Given the size of my house, a room divider/crate isn't an option (although we did have a room divider up when DD was smaller. Since she's been walking the space she had just wasn't sufficient or practical.)

Just a couple of points I'd like to check:

-Presumably when we're all together and she's not bothering him it's his choice whether he stays with us or not.

-I shouldn't ever send him to the porch, it should be his choice to leave the room. (Having said this I tend to send him out there when DD's eating. Is this sending him a mixed message?)

-If DD wants to play with him is that ok as long as I'm with her showing her how to do it? I do honestly show her and talk to her about being gentle which she understands, but I know I've let it go too far.

-If DD ever gets too much for him I should remove her.

I agree about the sofa thing. I think I'll just have to stop bringing her downstairs after her bath.

Thank you all again. I deserved the angry words but I'm grateful for your wisdom and common sense thanks

misdee Wed 28-Sep-11 07:10:13

glad you are taking this all on board.

we got our dog when dd4 was around the age your dd is now. dd4 has never bothered ralph, and same for little ds (9months old). he crawls near him, but generally just watches the dog in wonder. ralph rolls over for a belly rub but steven just crawls away.

DecapitatedLegoman Wed 28-Sep-11 07:21:55

I think your proposals are ok if not ideal, but there's nothing wrong with sending him to the porch as long as it's not ever a punishment. Give him a small treat and shut him in there.

A crate or separated-off corner would be the safest option in a situation where your dog is clearly expressing how fed up he is. And she will get harder for him to deal with before she gets easier. My eldest is 4 and even now he'll sometimes forget himself and push past the dogs or bounce onto the sofa next to them. You do need, IMO, a long term solution. Your dog is trying to tell you that he's had enough.

LeoTheLateBloomer Wed 28-Sep-11 07:22:04

So far this morning things seem ok. She's pretty much ignored him and he's been able to hang out with us. He went to his bed when she started pushing her trolley around and later when she went to touch him I told her to leave him alone, which she did.

Feeling slightly hopeful that we might manage this.

Idasonions Wed 28-Sep-11 07:29:58

fantastic advice here.

I have a 5 yr old and she gets punished if she does not leave our dog alone when asked and she is not allowed to touch her when she goes in her bed. You just have to be really really strict about this.

DooinMeCleanin Wed 28-Sep-11 07:44:59

I found when dd2 was that young it was easier to make the rules very simple. Mine was "Never go to the dog. If you want to fuss him you must call him to you. If he doesn't come he doesn't want to play" and she was never to call him unless I was with him.

I never left them alone. It's easy to do. Carry treats around for a few days and drop one every now and again and the dog will soon follow you from room to room.

Safe space is essential in this house. My grumpiest dog has at least three places to go where no-one must disturb him - his crate, under the cofee table, under the PC desk. The dc have learnt it's not okay to ever go near these places when he is there and he has learnt if he lays quietly in these places he might just get cheese grin Safe space doesn't need to be a whole sectioned off room, just a bed in a quiet corner that dd knows she must never go near is enough.

I caught her once trying to hurt him and put the fear of god into her. She's not done it since, but I had no choice other than to be harsh with her as my dog is not patient. It's important to teach your child as if she ever ran upto a dog like mine and clonked him on the head, she might get a nasty shock at best and a hospital stay at worst. I don't let smaller children fuss him when we are out, just incase they haven't been taught not to be rough, although he is generally okay with children he reacts badly to pain or being shocked.

I'd also like to say well done on taking on board the advise and trying to solve this. It's refreshing to see someone who wants to work with their dog to solve the problem smile

Elibean Wed 28-Sep-11 09:55:11

Some great tips here - we're about to re-home a 5 month old, and I have nearly-5 and nearly-8 yr old dds.

I also checked out the Blue Dog interactive cartoons last night - they are great, am going to use them with the dds.

OP, good luck - I am seriously impressed at your willingness to accept feedback and use it constructively: you are a rare and lovely thing!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: