Rescue dog barking at the children

(44 Posts)
Liberty5 Tue 28-Jan-20 07:00:41


Any tips or experiences, I need some help! We got our dog on Saturday, 5 month old (Shih tsu cross) from a rescue centre. He’s lovely, but very unsure, scared, missing his kennel companion as always been with dogs and I think pining. He’s been generally doing great considering, but on Sunday afternoon he started barking at our children and now does it whenever they enter the room. Short growl then short sharp loud barks. They have been very gentle and calm with him, been supervised and we have given him a lot of space and quiet. He has been mostly in our large kitchen/diner/family room settling in, the children have been in the lounge / rest of house, coming in to see him for short periods to not over worry him with one of us with the kids where they are and one of us with the dog so he’s not left alone. They haven’t been rough with him or loud or crazy, but he clearly feels upset/threatened by them and the children are now getting scared of him. I’m calling a puppy behaviourist/trainer this morning to arrange a 121 in the house (he’ll be having general puppy training classes with her going forward) but any advice from anyone for starters? I knew he’d need a lot of TLC and training and I’m at home most of the day and my husband works from home so we are here but I’m a bit dismayed about this turn of events. He’s fine around me and my husband, he’ll sit on our laps and be stroked and fall asleep and is happy to be handled. He’s also been happy to lie on the sofa and be stroked by my eldest, but when she walks in the room he’s had started to bark at her. If he’s on a lap he’s a happy and calm, if he’s generally padding/sitting in the kitchen and they appear he’s a stressball. It’s not just someone coming in the room - he’s quiet until he see’s it’s one of them in particular. I know we have taken on a dog that needs a lot of time and love and training and we are all prepared to give it. The dog was ok at the premeet with the children before we took him home and had been happy to be stroked by them, no indication of not liking them, but I think he had the confidence of his kennel mate there which helped him (he had been in a foster home for a week with a smaller fog rather than in the main kennels when we picked him up.)

OP’s posts: |
MothershipG Tue 28-Jan-20 07:27:33

Have you contacted the rescue? Do they offer any post adoption support?

Maybe for now ask the kids to ignore him completely, no eye contact, no strokes. Does he have a crate or safe space? How old are your DC? Is he food motivated?

I'm sure the behaviourist will be able to give good advice.

billybagpuss Tue 28-Jan-20 07:33:23

How does he react when you take him into the room to see them?

Booboostwo Tue 28-Jan-20 07:33:51

You are right to be cautious about this. How old are the DCs? Hopefully old enough to understand that they must never pressure the dog into more contact than he is willing to give. The dog must always have the option to walk away, she should not be cornered or stroked when she doesn’t want to.

You are also right to get a behaviourist involved. These kinds of behaviours need to be observed in person and you need expert advice.

One easy thing to try until you get professional help is to have the DCs toss food in the direction of the dog. They should not try to feed her directly or lure her to them. They should ignore her and just throw treats in her direction.

thelongdarkteatimeofthesoul Tue 28-Jan-20 07:44:06

We had this with a rescue dog who'd been in a foster home and was supposed to be child friendly - the children in the foster home were older than our younger two though. Just as you describe she was fine for the first week but then once she'd somewhat settled in barked and growled at my youngest in particular. She also put herself between me and my youngest and was very much agitated by me giving him attention, especially hugs or helping him with the zip on his coat etc.
She tended to completely ignore the older children but the youngest was unsafe around her even fully supervised.

We tried with her for 6 months and managed to improve her physical health no end (she was under weight when we got her) and teach her commands, but the issue with my youngest meant we returned her to the rescue eventually because we were completely unable to resolve it and were on edge all the time. To be honest it was the worst 6 months of my life, I've never been that unhappy and will never have a dog in the house again. The kids all loved her, including the youngest, and were heartbroken, but she made my youngest unsafe in his own home and we'd tried everything with the trainer.

Scattyhattie Tue 28-Jan-20 09:23:55

If dogs haven't had much socialisation around children they can find them scary/worrying. It maybe he felt comfortable at kennels so meeting went well but now his bucket is over filling with all the other changes and feels less confident and trying to scare away. How is he with the kids when outside?

NoSquirrels Tue 28-Jan-20 11:56:05

I’d get in touch with the rescue ASAP. A stressed dog who is unhappy in a family with younger children is not a good idea, for anyone. It’s not your fault if the dog actually isn’t suitable as a family dog - the rescue will then know to look for a quieter adult only home.


Bigmango Tue 28-Jan-20 12:36:59

We have had this problem with our dog who is now 1. She only barked at children outside though - always been fine with our daughter. Even though I was aware it could be puppy/adolescent related, I wanted to be very proactive about clamping down on it. We got a behaviourist in which was helpful. I would definitely recommend this. You should be able to claim on your insurance for one if you can get a vet referral. Our vet was happy to do this. We used counter conditioning methods primarily eg lots of treats when child in sight etc. Now he doesn’t bark at all at children so yay!

But actually what helped the most was joining the fb group Dog Training Advice and a Support. You read through the introductory units and then the ones specific to your problem and then ask questions if you need more help. The first thing that you will read is just for the time being to completely separate them using baby gates if necessary. Also great resources for children about dog body language etc. It was really eye opening for me. I have realised now how few dogs actually like young children. Some may tolerate them but most of the time their body language is saying “get the fuck away from me!”

Good luck. I know how stressful it can be. The best thing you can do is take it really seriously I think. He is communicating with you and it’s up to you to listen.

frostedviolets Tue 28-Jan-20 13:44:47

I would return him to the rescue to be honest and, sorry I know it's massively unpopular.. I'd buy a Shih Tzu puppy from nice, confident, friendly parents instead.

He is obviously massively stressed around children and not suitable for your family.

longearedbat Tue 28-Jan-20 14:48:55

I think I would return him too. You have not got what you thought you were getting and you shouldn't be having to deal with what could be a serious problem. It could very well be that he's never come across smaller children in his space before. My dog lives with us 2 old retired fogeys, she finds small children quite strange as she has met very few. Any she meets she would rather ignore until they go away, she would rather not interact with them. The longer you keep the dog the more difficult this will all become as you will become attached

WeHaveSnowdrops Tue 28-Jan-20 14:51:38

Take him back. You'd never forgive yourself if it bit the DCs.

Loveablers Tue 28-Jan-20 16:02:50

Are you posters for real? No wonder so many dogs end up in kennels with your attitude!

OP you’ve had him 3 days. That is absolutely nothing. Obviously what’s going on isn’t great but I don’t know anyone who gets a rescue and expects there to be no issues. Before rehoming him again please do all that you can such as a trainer etc
Don’t give up on him after a couple of days.

FAQs Tue 28-Jan-20 16:06:40

I was going to say the same, 3 days! It takes around 3 weeks for a rescue dog to settle and get to know it’s surroundings and family. You’re doing the correct thing by seeking advice. That breed is a bit barky anyway but you probably know that from your research. Good luck

frostedviolets Tue 28-Jan-20 16:18:18

Are you posters for real? No wonder so many dogs end up in kennels with your attitude!

The dog is extremely unhappy around children..
Yes it's been 3 days.
Rescue dogs take a while to fully reveal their true characters, usually, they are on best behaviour initially, if he is this reactive now, after just three days, he could very well be much, much worse in time.

It is surely kinder to give it back so it can be placed in a child free home where it will be happy.
The OPs home is not right for this dog.

Just because it's a Shih tzu doesn't mean it can't cause serious injury.
Aggression often gets worse not better and it can happen rapidly.
What happens when/if the dog bites?
Most rescues will no longer rehome if it bites, what then?
Poor fucker will be PTS.

Give the dog back.

It's not happy with you and you'll never forgive yourself when/if it bites one of your children.

Find a nice reputable breeder, spend some time with their dogs, make sure the adult dogs are confident and friendly and get yourself a nice little puppy would be my advice.

There's a reason why most rescues don't rehome yo families with young children.

MissPepper8 Tue 28-Jan-20 16:52:01

Find a nice reputable breeder, spend some time with their dogs

Why a breeder?? I can understand if the dogs not happy but what if op doesn't want a puppy? And why go straight to a breeder when there are dogs in kennels needing homes?

I'd contact the rescue op, they should have trainers in place for this. Where are you based? In the UK shelters are really careful housing dogs with younger children because of things like this. He is obviously not a threat but seems threatened and anxious with the kids. I'd see if I could resolve it with the rescue first, and see if they have tips.

Ignoring is one, no attention at all for this behaviour and maybe putting him in a room that has a puppy gate? We had a collie who did this to me for attention and only when she lay down and stopped would she be allowed to return to the room. She soon got the picture she'd get no attention if she barked at me, but you must do the removing not the kids.

MissPepper8 Tue 28-Jan-20 16:55:10

Oh and treat, when she stopped that was key for us. Treating for quiet calm behaviour. Like if he is happy with kids fussing him or just lying on them. Get a clicker trainer and click and then treat for this behaviour, the kids can get involved with this.

JKScot4 Tue 28-Jan-20 16:55:40

It’s been 2/3 days, it’s very overwhelming for a dog in a new home, we suggest it takes up to 2mths easily for a dog to settle in. A crate would be good as it gives him a safe space if he needs it, 121 with an accredited behaviourist is ideal, he’s very young and easily trainable.
Ignore violets tosh ^^

frostedviolets Tue 28-Jan-20 17:31:18

Why a breeder?? I can understand if the dogs not happy but what if op doesn't want a puppy? And why go straight to a breeder when there are dogs in kennels needing homes?
Because I think that most adult dogs find children really stressful and unnerving.

I don't personally believe rescues should ever be placed in homes with
Under 5s.

Dogs that have grown up with their children are often more tolerant of things an unknown adult may not necessarily be.

I think that rescues often don't temperament test the dogs as thoroughly as they should and/or keep them in kennels instead of foster so the dog never shows its 'true' personality and ends up getting placed in unsuitable homes as per the OPs predicament.

I think genetics play a way way bigger role than people think.
I personally don't think it is all down to training at all.
Genetically nervy unstable dog will always be a nervy unstable dog In my opinion.

The fact you know nothing of a rescue dogs history, what may have happened to it in its past, what its parents and siblings were like, in families with young children, that makes me nervous.

I personally don't agree with rescues being placed on homes with young children.
I know it's an unpopular view.
Just how I personally feel.

ignore violets tosh
For suggesting not keeping a dog clearly deeply unhappy and posing a safety risk to the OPs children..?

Or for suggesting a pup?
Which I suggested for the reasons above.

JKScot4 Tue 28-Jan-20 17:39:19

I work in rescue and many are foster based and dogs are very thoroughly tested, trained, homes assessed, you can’t make sweeping generalisations about rescue dogs, most which started out as a breeders dog 🙄
It’s a horrible arrogant attitude, there’s 10,000s dogs in rescue in the UK and you’re narrow opinions are dreadful, it takes more than 3 days for a dog to adapt.

frostedviolets Tue 28-Jan-20 17:53:09

Iwork in rescue and many are foster based
Good, I think all rescues should be.
I believe kennels are cruel and the dogs are stressed and don't show their true personality

and dogs are very thoroughly tested, trained, homes assessed
As they should be.

you can’t make sweeping generalisations about rescue dogs, most which started out as a breeders dog
I'm not.
I'm saying that most adult dogs, irrespective of whether they are family dogs, working dogs, rescue dogs, strays whatever, often are not comfortable around young children.

Hence I do not personally think rescue dogs should be placed in homes with young children.

I'm also saying that I think inherited temperament is way more important than people think.
I don't think issues are solely down to training.

It’s a horrible arrogant attitude, there’s 10,000s dogs in rescue in the UK and you’re narrow opinions are dreadful, it takes more than 3 days for a dog to adapt
What narrow opinions..?
I have nothing against rescue dogs at all.
I'm very sorry if I have given that impression, not the case at all.

But I do have a problem with a rescue dog, or any adult dog, going to a home with young children.

I think that when you look at the body language, dogs are frequently stressed out by children.

The vast majority of bites are to under 5s.

I don't think it's a good idea to place unknown dogs with young children.

I am well aware it takes more than 3 days.
I was making the point that if it's so uncomfortable and aggressive after 3 days it may well get worse as the dog starts to get more comfortable and show it's full personality.

frostedviolets Tue 28-Jan-20 17:55:19

Oh also, started out as a breeders dog hmm

You don't have huge numbers of dogs come in due to being found straying, landlord refusal, new job hours, job loss, bereavement, new babies, allergies, not getting on with another resident dog, relationship break ups...?

MissPepper8 Tue 28-Jan-20 18:32:43

Because I think that most adult dogs find children really stressful and unnerving

OK but you can also argue that there are puppies also in shelters, always have puppies popping up rescues for some sad reason. You don't have to jump straight to breeders.

Op also shouldn't be dashing back to the rescue, atleast give the poor thing a chance. You wouldn't see a puppy settling in, in 3 days.

frostedviolets Tue 28-Jan-20 18:49:29

OK but you can also argue that there are puppies also in shelters, always have puppies popping up rescues for some sad reason. You don't have to jump straight to breeders
Absolutely true, there are often puppies in and I have no issue with rescue pups being homed with young children.

For me personally though, I like to see the parents so I have a good idea of what sort of temperament to expect in adulthood.

I like the fact that responsible breeders health test aswell so you can have a much reduced chance of getting a dog with serious health issues if you pick your breeder carefully.

Reputable breeders will take the dog back at any point aswell.

I'm really not against rescue dogs. Honestly.
I just think it's not a good idea placing adult dogs (no matter where they are from) with young children and in the OPs case it seems to me that the dog is seriously anxious and unhappy around kids.

I think a dog that growls and the barks the second it sees children poses a safety risk and shouldn't be in a home with young children.

I think the dog would be far far happier if returned to rescue and placed in a child free home.

CSIblonde Tue 28-Jan-20 18:53:04

3days is too soon to give in IME of rescues. Yes to the treats so he associates them with food. They could also be in charge of his feeds, with you there too of course to hammer the point home. And Google Victoria, the 'Its Me or the Dog' lady, she has a USA series now & is great on aggression issues, its on You Tube.

FAQs Tue 28-Jan-20 18:56:22

@frostedviolets it’s not an adult dog, it’s a puppy.

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