Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Beagle snapping at toddler - your suggestions(32 Posts)
Hi, our normally very tolerant and sweet natured beagle has started growling and snapping at our very active 2 year old. This morning we think she might have given her a nip after DD disturbed her when sleeping.
The dog only snaps at her (not me or DH) and is generally very mild mannered; the dog is 3.5 yo; DD is obsessed with the dog and they will often chase each other in the garden; we also have a 3 mo baby so difficult sometimes to separate them as I am busy with the baby.
I'm concerned and want to take measures before we go down the route of rehoming the dog (really don't want to do this as she's a beloved family pet), but of course worried about welfare of toddler (and dog!!).
Your suggestions and advice (or any links / organisations that could provide advice) would be very warmly welcomed.
Thanks all very much.
Make sure you keep them apart using a baby gate, etc so the toddler can't disturb the dog when you aren't in the same room to supervise. You need to tell the toddler not to behave in a way that antagonises the dog - you can't reason with a two year old, just tell them straight.
You ne keep the toddler away from the dog. As she cannot be trusted to keep,away from her, you must supervise the toddler at all times, putting gates in place if you need physical barriers (which sounds likely)
The toddler needs to be taught to play nicely with the dog, and you cannot have her outdoors at the same time as the dog until you have at least got the toddler to respect 'stop' at all times.
Your dog sounds lovely. And you need to heed her warnings that your DD has not yet learned how to behave round dogs, and make sure he older is constantly supervisedor behind a suitable barrier. Always.
I know it's difficult but you must make sure they're never together unsupervised.
You need to make an absolute rule that your toddler leaves the dog alone when sleeping or resting. 'Let sleeping dogs lie' is a proverb born out of reality. You can't yet trust your little one to keep this rule but it all helps.
You may also need to think carefully about whether the chasing games are a good idea.
Separate them; use baby gates for the purpose. The dog is just trying to tell you that she wants some peace and quiet, and doesn't enjoy being harassed by your toddler (a perfectly reasonable opinion to hold!)
You need to teach your toddler how to behave around the dog. If the dog is sleeping or eating it must not be disturbed. You should also teach your toddler to use gentle hands when touching the dog. My nephews are a similar age and are very good with animals because they have been taught what to do
Personally I couldn't trust a dog that reacted like this, being 'disturbed when sleeping' shouldn't warrant snapping in my opinion. It's not the dogs fault, living with toddlers is hard for animals that aren't used to it, but for the dogs sake and the safety of your children I would consider rehoming. Strict separation at the very least.
If you have a three month old then very soon you will have another noisy toddler, so that's two children to disturb the dog.
I'd be looking at letting the dog go to a home without kids, tbh. Next time it won't be just a nip, and the decision will be taken out of your hands. Poor dog.
If the dog is growling and snapping without provocation from your 2yo then it would be best to rehome the dog. A “nip” is a mild dog bite, next time could be worse.
As other posters say, keep them separate and closely supervise anytime they are in the same space. If the 2yo is provoking the dog, then yes teach the child how to be around dogs. But in some cases, a dog will growl and snap at a child even if not provoked. In these cases it is best to rehome the dog because no matter how the child behaves, they will be exposed to potential dog bites/attacks. Through observation, you will know which is the case with your dog and child.
I had to rehome a dog for this. It wasn’t the dogs fault she was a rescue dog and for some reason had a fear of small children that we did not know about until we had our first child. I also personally know someone who had a similar situation, ignored the growling/snapping/nipping and did not rehome her dog. The dog ended up mauling her 3yr old toddler daughters face which required extensive plastic surgery over the next seven years to only mostly correct the scarring and deformities. Not to mention the psychological trauma as this girl is now an adult in her early twenties and still terrified of dogs.
It sounds as though you have a well trained dog. In which case you have a toddler problem. You are giving the child mixed signals; sometimes it’s OK to chase the dog, sometimes it’s not Ok to try and play with the dog. Actually she needs to never interact with the dog except under strict supervision. She shouldn’t be able to poke the dog when it is sleeping, ever. You need to step up and train your child, you trained a dog so how hard can it be to train a more intelligent being?
I'm certain the dog would have displayed many behaviours before resorting to snapping at the child. Most parents are oblivious to the distress their children cause animals - just watch the "funny" YouTube videos of children behaving inappropriately with saints of dogs displaying very clear uncomfortable body language. Those dogs will eventually growl or snap if the behaviour of the child continues. How else are they meant to communicate that they need help?
The dog needs a safe space away from the child where they can escape to. The child needs to be kept away from the dog when there is not an adult to supervise. The adult needs to teach the child how to appropriately interact with the dog, what the dog's body language means and how to tell when the dog wants space and to respect the dog and leave it be.
Children and dogs should never be unsupervised when together, regardless of how quiet the dog is.
@mistermagpie you realise dogs can dream right? Just like humans if they are dreaming and they get woken suddenly they can not tell what is happening and are confused.
You need to teach your toddler the boundaries, they do not wake up the dog or go near any food or take things from it's mouth etc. She must be gentle with the dog, open hand stroking. She shouldn't 'bother' the dog. Have a safe place your dog can go if he needs five mins peace. You would get annoyed getting poked and prodded and woken up all the time as well so you need to 'train' your toddler here.
Do you have room for a crate or play pen where the dog could escape to? A physical barrier might be easier for a toddler to understand? I'm lucky enough to have a friend who is a behaviourist who came and spent some time teaching my children how to behave around the dog. I wonder if your toddler is old enough that someone unfamiliar giving rules more likely for them to stick?
decisions - no I didn't really, I've never given it any thought (I'm not a dog person, I just responded because I have toddlers and other animals), but still... if I'm woken from a dream and confused I don't bite people. And that's what we're trying to be cute by calling a 'nip'.
Mistermagpie. Why don't you see how you would react if you were deeply asleep and your husband shove a piece of Lego in your ear, whacked you across the face with a doll or jumped into your stomach.
In dog language, the toddler is being an invasive twerp - the dog would definitely tell you that you have a toddler problem
Do you tell the dog off for growling? They've got to have some way of telling you they're uneasy about a situation - and I'd put money on this dog having their "I'm not okay with this" warning signals ignored or squashed, either just by the toddler or by the grown ups too.
"And that's what we're trying to be cute by calling a 'nip'."
It's not 'cute'. There is an important disctintin between an inhibited bite and an out and out bite. The former is used in playing (between puppies usually, but sometimes between humans and dogs, until the humans train it out) and in disciplining/warning - such as mothers or other adult dogs to puppies to teach them some manners.
It is a warning of unhappiness in that case, and that is what posters suspect is going on here. As the toddler woke the dog (not observed how) and the dog told the toddler off (with inhibited bite) . There are other forms of body language and growling that show warnings too. It's not clear if the dog also used them, or has used them in the past.
When you have a dog that behaves well other than when provoked, then the answer is to look at removing the provocation, before the dog feels the need to move from warnings and inhibited actions into direct defensive action.
You've had your warnings so it's now up to you whether you heed them or not. I can only speak personally but I'd never keep a dog that was biting my toddler - and the logistics of keeping them apart 24/7 will be very difficult for you.
We are saying 'nip' to minimise what's actually happening here. The dog has - you believe - bitten your child. Mildly yes. This time.
I'd do the sensible thing and give yourself peace of mind because next time you may not be so lucky
Op please read up on do body language and safe child-dog interactions - you are risking your dog's life and serious injury to your toddler.
Dogs should never be disturbed when sleeping or eating. They should have a safe haven away from children where they can get peace and whenever children interact with dogs they should be closely supervised to ensure they use 'kind hands'
Dogs will turn away, move away, show the whites of their eyes and sometimes growl as a prelude to nipping. It's important to pay attention
@mistermagpie no but the chances are you would 'lash out' in some respect normally hitting out. Dogs can't hit someone so they react in the doggy equivalents which is to snap
My advice as a behaviourist/ owner and handler for 20 years is to teach your toddler to respect the dog, my children have the rule that if a dog is in its bed to leave it alone and i have 6 mastiffs.
. A dog should NEVER be disturbed when sleeping or eating by young children. This is the main cause of children being attacked by a family pet.
This isnt a problem with the dog it is a warning to the child. Your job is to stop it before it is to late by allowing the dog a safe area where it can go if its wants to sleep etc.
If you have trouble with this contact your vet who will have a number for a behaviourist/trainer in your area.
Definitely a toddler problem rather than a dog problem. From being a baby herself we have always reinforced with my DD that the dog’s bed is not to be touched, not to be moved and not to be played with. Even though she is 4 now she still does not go anywhere near the bed as it is the dog’s personal space when she wants to take herself away. We needed to show the dog she had a space she could go that she could relax without being disturbed.
We also reinforced the fact that if the dog has something she is not to remove it from the dog but ask an adult. We never wanted to give the dog the need to protect anything and to show DD respect for others possessions (only child)
We’ve never had a nip or warning at all from the dog but that is because DD got used to the rules we hammered in when she was little and has never breached the dog’s limits. I’m under no illusions that if pushed hard enough any dog would snap, so we try to create an environment that that is very unlikely to happen, but be mindful that it is always a possibility.
I would check with the vet that there is nothing making the dog more irritable, like toothache. Beagles are usually mild tempered.