Puppy went for DC what should we do?

(22 Posts)
Phish638 Sat 25-Apr-20 20:57:39

Please no judgment, no harsh comments. I’m having an awful time with this lockdown, I just need some words of kindness and reassurance.

Our pup is 7 months old, a terrier. He’s a bit fiesty-growls when he plays with his toys, very bitey when he was younger, grumbles if there’s birds in the garden. He’s never had an issue with other dogs or people in the house or anything like that.

A couple of months ago he snarled at the vet when he had drops put in his eye, the vet muzzled him to be on the safe side.

This evening, he was asleep next to me on the sofa, DS who is 12 went up to him, put his nose next to his and make an ‘awwww’ noise (as in the noise you make when something looks cute).

Pup jumped up at his face, growled and snapped at him. This was entirely my fault, I didn’t react quick enough to stop DS and I obviously hadn’t got the message through to DS that that’s not ok to do. I take full responsibility for that and I understand why it happened.

A couple of hours later, DS was going up to bed and went to stroke pup and the same thing happened again-snapping and growling.

It’s shaken me up. Is there anything I should do to ensure this doesn’t happen again? I’ve already spoke at length with DS and I will make sure he respects pup’s space but is this ‘normal’ is it a sign that pup could be aggressive?

I’ve only had 2 other dogs, one when I was a child and a rescue dog when I was an adult. Both soft as soap.

OP’s posts: |
VetOnCall Sat 25-Apr-20 21:16:19

No judgement but dogs should never be disturbed when sleeping, your pup was being defensive rather than aggressive. The good thing is that your pup has good bite inhibition and gives good warnings, because if he really had wanted to bite your DS on either occasion tonight he would have. It takes a while for cortisol (stress hormone) levels to return to baseline in dogs after a stressful event so the subsequent growling is likely him still feeling a bit on edge. Give him time to calm down and try to keep interactions between them calm and controlled. If he doesn't already do so, get your DS involved in feeding the dog, to build up their bond and good associations. He could also do some reward-based training with him under close supervision - just simple things like come, sit, paw, lie down etc. to start with. In future if he wants to fuss the dog ask him to either wait for the dog to come to him or call him over using a food or toy reward and then fuss him rather than him going into the dog's space if that makes sense.

Phish638 Sat 25-Apr-20 21:22:36

Thankyou so much, I really needed to read that reply! I can see exactly where it went wrong this evening and to be honest pup hadn’t had much peace all day. It’s such an awful excuse I know but the home situation with isolation is so difficult at the moment I feel like I’ve taken my eye off the ball with our puppy. My fault entirely.

Thankyou for your advice. I just needed to hear that our pup isn’t aggressive and some pointers on how to prevent it happening again. Many many thanks.

OP’s posts: |
picklemewalnuts Sat 25-Apr-20 21:24:25

Your pup is learning that DS doesn't respect his boundaries. I agree with PP, get your son to do training. Petting a dog is something you earn the right to do, and your Ds hasn't earned it yet.

Teach your DS to invite the dog to have fuss- hold his hand out to the dog, make encouraging noises, and let the dog approach him. Even treat him at that point.
If the dog doesn't respond with enthusiasm, then leave him alone.

Windyatthebeach Sat 25-Apr-20 21:25:09

Imo ddog needs a place away from anyone for his naps.
And tbh a 12yo should know to let sleeping ddogs lie...

picklemewalnuts Sat 25-Apr-20 21:25:12

I realise I've just repeated everything Vet said! Sorry!

VetOnCall Sat 25-Apr-20 21:35:19

No problem smile He's still very young at 7 months and if he's had a full-on day he's likely also tired and more reactive than usual. Terriers can be on the feistier side - growly/'fierce' play with toys is normal for them. Don't beat yourself up, you sound really caring and switched on and I'm sure with calmness, consistency and clear boundaries your DS and dog will build a really good relationship.


Phish638 Sat 25-Apr-20 21:38:44

Absolutely, I completely agree. We’re finding it difficult because we’re all home all the time so there’s always noise going on and pup is going through a phase of not wanting to be isolated from us. I’ve been leaving him in the kitchen most days for 2 hours while DS has been quietly doing his homeschooling upstairs, we’ve even gone and sat in the car with our books but we didn’t get the chance today so pup just flaked out on the sofa with us.

I know now how important it is to give him that quiet time.

Fuck, I feel awful about it. I’m just dropping the ball on everything. Struggling to WFH, struggling to help with homeschool, keep DS entertained. DH is a key worker so he’s out of the house 50 hours a week. Sorry for the sob story, I know everyone’s in the same boat.

OP’s posts: |
Phish638 Sat 25-Apr-20 21:42:40

He is feisty, our trainer in puppy classes (before the lockdown) commented during ‘playtime’ that we weren’t trying to kill the toys as he was thrashing his about making noises like a gremlin!

He’s vocal, he grumbles a lot-if he needs to go he doesn’t whine or scratch the door but grumbles.

This is the first time (apart from at the vets) that I’ve seen something that’s worried me and I do like to worry about things so of course I’ve gone straight to worst case scenario in my head.

OP’s posts: |
VetOnCall Sat 25-Apr-20 21:54:21

I bet you're not dropping the ball, it's a really hard, stressful time for everyone at the moment. Honestly, don't be so hard on yourself. The fact that you posted on here rather than reacting hysterically that he's a bad, aggressive dog shows that you care. Try to reframe it as a good thing - you know now that your pup doesn't like to be startled but that he has great communication (growling) and great bite inhibition (a warning snap and not a bite). Some dogs are more vocal than others and some are more tolerant, they're all individuals, but honestly, it sounds like you're doing great 99.9% of the time. Today was a blip during a stressful time in the grand scheme of things so don't blame yourself, just take it as part of the learning curve for DS and an opportunity to get him involved with pup in a positive way.

User478 Sat 25-Apr-20 21:57:55

When the kids I looked after got their puppy their dog behaviourist gave them this: https://images.app.goo.gl/VCjDRyRwuNeFb2TD9

Wolfiefan Sat 25-Apr-20 22:01:09

I have a 6 month old who is very growly when she plays. (She can be running round the garden on her own growling so it’s not at people!) Growly noises don’t always mean vicious.
DS startled the pup. That’s all. So the pup was then wary of him and warned him off.
DS needs to leave him alone for a bit and give him a bit more space. We say the kids can ask if the animals want a fuss but they can’t put hands on them if they don’t.
And growling at the vet could’ve been fear or pain.
And ALL puppies bite. grin

TheWayOfTheWorld Sat 25-Apr-20 22:03:51

My parents had a Doberman bitch when I was little - I once poked my face right into hers when she was curled up asleep on a chair. She bit me on the face near the eye and there was blood everywhere.

My dad was furious and wanted to get rid of her but me and mum wouldn't let him. I'd disturbed her whilst asleep and she nipped next in the way she'd have nipped a naughty puppy; unfortunately my skin was thinner grin. She was a lovely dog and I knew she hadn't meant to harm me.

Phish638 Sat 25-Apr-20 22:09:59

User478 that’s brilliant, I’ll show that to DS tomorrow.

He’s been really good with pup since we got him. Because he was so bitey in the early days we taught DS straight away how to give him space etc but we obviously need to remind him of it.

Thankyou all so much for the kind replies. I think this is the first time I’ve come on here for advice and not been made to feel completely incompetent (although there’s still time for that 😄) I really do appreciate it though, I feel positive and capable of moving forward tomorrow whereas an hour ago I just wanted to hide under the duvet and cry!

Now just need to sort out the rest of my life!

OP’s posts: |
Coffeecak3 Sat 25-Apr-20 22:14:00

My dil's dog when young used to growl at dgs if he got too close especially when dog had a bone. He also once reacted when dgs woke him from a deep sleep. Dil trained dgs to first throw treats to the dog and eventually train dog to earn treats and dgs was able to give them. So dog saw dgs as an ally rather than a threat. Dog and dgs are brilliant together now.

Wolfiefan Sat 25-Apr-20 22:14:44

Nah OP. One thing at a time. I can’t believe anyone here is truly homeschooling like Mary Poppins, baking like Nigella Lawson whilst cleaning the house from top to bottom every day and staying cheerful/off the booze/not binge eating.
Or maybe I’m the only one who isn’t. shock

SirVixofVixHall Sat 25-Apr-20 22:17:14

What type of terrier is he OP ?

tabulahrasa Sat 25-Apr-20 22:24:50

“I can’t believe anyone here is truly homeschooling like Mary Poppins, baking like Nigella Lawson whilst cleaning the house from top to bottom every day and staying cheerful/off the booze/not binge eating.”

Well my kids are older, so no homeschooling anyway... but I’m mostly watching Netflix and getting fat hmm lol

Obviously people have mentioned not disturbing sleeping dogs, but on top of that bending over them and putting your face up to them is pretty full on/threatening to dogs as well... some dogs really dislike it even when they see it coming, but to be woken up like that isn’t great.

Just in a pointing out why it happened way.

Phish638 Sat 25-Apr-20 22:29:29

Definitely, I said to DS how would he feel if he woke up to someone next to his face making a silly noise? Your reflex may well be to punch them! It’s ridiculous that I didn’t see it coming and stop it. DS knows better too.

I’m not going to beat myself up about it anymore, we’ll talk again in the morning and work on quiet time alone for pup each day and follow the advice given.

I’m off to bed now, exhausted is an understatement!

OP’s posts: |
Wolfiefan Sat 25-Apr-20 22:30:47

Sleep well!

picklemewalnuts Sun 26-Apr-20 08:12:28

I think most of us have a few times during puppyhood where we think 'argh, I've done it all wrong, I've ruined everything!' And that's without lockdown to cope with.

Sounds like you have a vocal pup too. Mine's pretty chatty too! We have to get toys without stuffing, because he definitely thinks the idea is to kill it, tear out its inners, and spread them around the room.

Veterinari Sun 26-Apr-20 08:21:18

Don't beat yourself up OP.

It does sound as if your pup may benefit from some impulse control training (another job I know!)
This link has some games to try.

Tug is a brilliant impulse control game for terriers but it needs to be trained properly to prevent accidental nipping.

Also if you can, try and get out each day for exercise - tiring out your dog and DS will help them both to relax at home

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