Advanced search

Help! Dog "nipping".

(41 Posts)
PeppaPigStinks Wed 23-Nov-16 09:10:51

Can you wise dog people help me work through this dilemma.

Dog is just over two. She is a lab. We have had her since a puppy and are just coming out of the puppy stage. She is calming down and is turning into a good and mostly well behaved dog. BUT.....

There have been at least four occasions where she has "nipped" or tried to bite.
1) four kids playing in the garden. She went for the oldest boy. I wasn't there but the adult said it was unprovoked. Dog was removed and put out of the way.
2) at a caravan site, dog was tethered to her post and a girl was playing with her. She said dog bit her. I didn't see but was right there!
3) my two children (5 and 3) were playing in front room. Not with dog but dog was there. Dog apparently tried to nip my 5 year old.
4) 3 year old playing with dog and she tried to nip.

I have only seen occasion 4.

Having seen this written down. I think I know she needs to be re homed to somewhere without young children.


A dog isn't for Christmas. We have had her since a puppy and we all love having a dog in our lives.

What would you do?

PeppaPigStinks Wed 23-Nov-16 09:25:16

Ref occasion 4. I know three year old shouldn't have been playing with her and explained to them this was not fair on the dog.

MaitlandGirl Wed 23-Nov-16 09:26:42

Were these instances all fairly close together and is she coming into season? I've known a few safe dogs get nippy when hormones are racing.

weaselwords Wed 23-Nov-16 09:39:36

The way you've described the incidences, sounds like she gets over exited and plays with the kids like they are other dogs. Do you think she is over exited or being aggressive?

Sugarpiehoneyeye Wed 23-Nov-16 09:57:36

Hi Peppa, is she getting regular, and enough exercise ?
Is she getting enough mental stimulation ?
These are not criticisms, just questions, to try and help.
Also what and when do you feed her.

PeppaPigStinks Wed 23-Nov-16 12:09:17

She has been nutered. So not coming into season.

We have tried a variety of dried foods. I found she was a bit scatty with wagg.

Sugar - she doesn't get no where near the exercise she needs. I have recently had a cesearean (3 months now). She usually gets walked on the school run. Which is two miles with a field in the middle so off the lead.
Weekends revolve around a fair dog walk on the moors/beach etc.

Probably not getting the mental stimulation she needs at the moment.

PeppaPigStinks Wed 23-Nov-16 12:10:07

Sugar she is fed morning and eve. Vet last week said she had put on weight blush

user1478987578 Wed 23-Nov-16 13:21:49

I'm in a dilemma with my doggy sad he is a basset at 20months old but is reactive to people he doesn't know and doesn't like children..... My lo is 16weeks and he's always been good with her but when she starts toddling may be a different story. I'm so worried because I couldn't imagine rehoming him but I'm fearful for my daughters safety at times for when she is growing. I've tried to keep involving him but it does get hard sometimes because he's so bloody energetic. I've started behavioural training with him so hopefully will help there. I hate to say my priorities have changed so my lo comes first now, but I cannot deny it anymore. It's so difficult atm. Hopefully your dog is just a phase sad

KindDogsTail Wed 23-Nov-16 13:30:46

1) four kids playing in the garden. She went for the oldest boy. I wasn't there but the adult said it was unprovoked. Dog was removed and put out of the way.

Possibly all too exciting and also she may have felt threatened and reacted as though the child was another dog.

It would be best never to leave a dog unsupervised with children
2) at a caravan site, dog was tethered to her post and a girl was playing with her. She said dog bit her. I didn't see but was right there!
Was it a bite, a nip with the front teeth (*which is like a pinch and not intended to harm*, or a snap intended to warn?
3) my two children (5 and 3) were playing in front room. Not with dog but dog was there. Dog apparently tried to nip my 5 year old.
5 and 3 is too young to leave them alone. The dog will treat them as though they are dogs and may assert her seniority. Also you do not know what happened as she could have felt threatened.
4) 3 year old playing with dog and she tried to nip.

A 3 year must not play with the dog. She is not a cuddly toy, unfortunately even though it is tempting to feel that way.

I think you should call in a dog trainer to your house if you can, to give you advice. If not, I do think you should re home her as what is happening is not fair on the dog or the children. The Dogs Trust would be able to find her a lovely home. All sorts of people would like a labrador.

KindDogsTail Wed 23-Nov-16 13:34:28

I forgot to say that at the caravan site when she was tethered to the post, she would have felt she was guarding that spot, and also felt very vulnerable because there was nothing she could do to avoid the situation.

PeppaPigStinks Wed 23-Nov-16 13:40:02

Thanks kind.
The dog has never been left with the children unsupervised. At all four times above there has been an adult there (not me).

If I go upstairs the dog is in the kitchen with a baby gate.
And agreed ref 4) this happened as I was explaining to the three year old not to play that way.

PeppaPigStinks Wed 23-Nov-16 13:43:44

Actually sorry
I was there at the caravan site but didn't see it. And was telling my 3 year old to stop the playing.

I don't know what kind of nip it was. It all happens very quickly.

I've seen about a dog behaviour person but we just cannot afford oven

Hoppinggreen Wed 23-Nov-16 14:05:29

My 1 year old Goldie accidentally bit me the other day - I was holding his chew for him while he gnawed it ( don't know why but he likes me to) and I wasn't paying attention and he bit down on my finger with full force.
Very very painful, lots of blood and the bruising lasted ages.
Anyway, my point is that if there is no visible result of theses bites it would seem that your dog is actually showing good bite inhibition. Obviously it's not good that she's nipping at all and needs training out if it

KindDogsTail Wed 23-Nov-16 14:11:24

Yes, they are expensive.

I think if you could telephone the Dogs Trust and ask to speak to a head trainer they might advise you free, or be sympathetic and help you somehow. Explain that you would like to explore what to do, before deciding to give your dog up. No dog lover wants to see this, understands your predicament, and would want to help you.

Perhaps, if this was no good, you could also ask the PDSA which is a vet charity if they have a behaviourist who could help you free of charge.

I think that if your dog had truly bitten you would know about it - there would be damage. (Saps come very close to the body but 'miss'on purpose. Nips are with the front teeth and dogs will use these with each other in grooming and play too. However, these are all big warnings she has tried to give you and should not be taken lightly at all.

It is very very difficult looking after small children and a dog all at once. Please do not think I am being critical of you as I know only too well and have been in a similar situation - but an easier one.

Just because of the size of the small children, the dog can treat them as being 'below' her - in a dominant way. It can become better as the children get older. (SO a vet once told me.) But she may also be feeling very nervous around them and be defending herself.

I do think you could do with expert advice if you can get it.

mando12345 Wed 23-Nov-16 14:12:20

Are there any marks or is it just a playful nip?
If not a proper bite then I would stop the children playing with the dog and the dog getting over excited, also get the dog walking more.

To me if no marks it sounds like an under exercised dog with no boundaries not a nasty dog.

KindDogsTail Wed 23-Nov-16 14:15:21

Another apparent 'bite' from a small childs point of view is that the child puts their hand out to the dog. The dogs thinks she is being offered food, even when she isn't, and tries to take it, possibly in a snatch.

(Food children and dogs is a worry too in my opinion.)

Mando has good ideas but still try for that advice.

TheoriginalLEM Wed 23-Nov-16 14:16:26

wtaf are letting a 3 year old play with the dog???

I am so upset by this. Your poor dog clearly has issues with children because yours have not been taught to respect her boundaries.

I suspect this wont end well for your dog angry

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Wed 23-Nov-16 14:19:18

I am not a dog expert in any way, shape of form but we have just adopted a rescue lab who has had similar 'nips' at my DS. We didn't want to give up on him so brought a behaviouralist in - I really, really recommend it but as money is tight, I'm happy to share some of her tips:

Make sure the dog has a safe space to go (for DDog it is just her bed, but I only have one DS so it's easy to monitor them). When DDog is in bed she is left alone.

Don't let DC's 'play' with the dogs - big hugs and rough play is too much for the dog, he will then snarl or snap because he wants to be left alone.

Read each situation as if you're the dog: four kids running round the garden is stressful for your dog, he needs to be inside in his safe space when that's going on.

Create 'zones' - so DDog isn't allowed on the couches, not because we don't want him there, but so that DS gets a clear visual reminder of where the dog is allowed to be and where he needs to be.

Get online - there are hundreds of YouTube videos to teach you how to understand dog behaviour. Once you're tuned into head turning and lip licking, you'll be able to intervene before these sort of situations happen.

Be strict - you need to reset everyone in the house. Once things have calmed down you can reassess.

Sugarpiehoneyeye Wed 23-Nov-16 14:21:13

Hi Peppa, Labs can be prone to weight gain.
Some dry foods are like Rocket fuel.
A good one to try, not too expensive, is Fishmongers Finest, fish and potato, sensitive, by Pets at Home.
I took in a stray, like a rat on a string, I kid you not. Once I found the right diet, she calmed down immensly. A different dog.
I see you are in a predicament at the moment, with exercise.
Seriously, if you look on the Internet, you will find lots of great tips, to challenge your dog mentally, this will really help, also.
Remember the saying, you are what you eat, it's true for dogs also.
Congratulations on your precious little one, hope you recover soon xx

LilCamper Wed 23-Nov-16 14:37:45

Feed using a food dispensing toy like a kong wobbler. That's mental stimulation right there. Bowls are boring.

KindDogsTail Wed 23-Nov-16 14:53:03

Yes, but only away from the children or the children might start playing with it and there would be confusion again. The children are very, very young.

sparechange Wed 23-Nov-16 15:00:20

Ok, so all the occasions have the same thing in common. The dog is outnumbered by unaccompanied children.

The dog does absolutely not need to be immediately rehomed but you need to look at how you are treating your dog.

Firstly, why is the dog lumbered with kids abs tethered around people? For your convenience?
The dog needs a) supervision with its trusted adult/handler and b) a place to escape to when it's had enough - which it won't have when tethered

A lab will absolutely be trainable to have a reliable sit and stay when you want it in one place but still be able to get away when it is being annoyed by children.

The instances seem quite far apart? Can I presume you haven't done any training after each/any incident to correct this?

I'm quite surprised you say you're only just coming out of puppy stage at 2. Labs mature a lot earlier than that which makes me think the problem is you and not enough training alongside putting your dog in stressful situations with no consideration for how it makes your dog feel.
Are you willing and able to work with a behaviourist for a couple of sessions?

There is also a brilliant article on how to read your dog's body language when they are telling you enough is enough
I'll post the link, and suggest you read it, because you are need to see these situations from your dog's eyes

stonecircle Wed 23-Nov-16 15:59:57

What other people have said. I think you need to look at how you are treating your dog op and then hopefully your dog's behaviour will improve.

Dogs are NOT toys or playmates for small children. All puppies and young dogs will mouth and nip when playing - not the same as biting. Any dog that has the misfortune to be tethered is likely to react badly if people approach it (protecting its territory and can't get away from a situation it doesn't like) Presumably you tell your children never to lean over a garden gate to stroke a dog, for obvious reasons. Same thing here.

Perhaps get yourself a book on dog psychology so you can better understand what is going on in his mind and how you can make him feel safe and happy. Rather than just training the dog to suppress any reaction in situations it doesn't like, educate yourself and train your kids.

Shambolical1 Wed 23-Nov-16 18:33:55

This might be useful to watch, and there is a link to practical help.

KindDogsTail Wed 23-Nov-16 19:14:38

That is a good film Shambolical.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

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

Register now