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Rescue dog growling at my kids :/

(136 Posts)
FatBottomedGurl Tue 30-Jun-20 09:29:56

So, rescued a 4 month puppy from Spain. She arrived to her new home with us around 3.5 weeks ago. On her paperwork it says she is a Belgian Shephard Cross, which we were never advised of previously, although I assume its more of a guess than hard facts as she seems to have been found as a young pup on the street, along with two "brothers" who look very little like her. Having researched Belgian Shephard breed, they don't seem to make very good family pets and I think if they had advised of this, we may have went a different route, but anyways, she is here now and 85% of the time, a very nice dog. She is a little timid, calm, good with other dogs, doesn't chase the cats, knows all basic commands and toilet training is going great.

BUT she keeps growling at my kids, which is obviously worrying for me. I assume she is not used to kids/pre-teens (kids are 11 & 12 yo), and we are willing to work on this and hopefully help her adapt to new and probably scary surroundings. We have been working on the kids being in "her" space, and them touching her when she is eating, taking food bowl away, kids giving her treats etc and all of the "pack mentality" stuff such as them walking in the doors first, everyone being fed before the dog etc - everything that google has told me is a good idea. I have reached out to a friend of mine who is a dog trainer and she is giving free advice but cant do any hands-on classes due to lockdown limitations.

Not sure what I am asking here, I am worried but also not jumping to anything, I want to love this dog and have her love us. But, my kids are the most important thing and I need them to be safe. Any advice welcome.

OP’s posts: |
PalTheGent Tue 30-Jun-20 09:35:53

We have been working on the kids being in "her" space, and them touching her when she is eating, taking food bowl away, kids giving her treats etc and all of the "pack mentality" stuff such as them walking in the doors first, everyone being fed before the dog etc - everything that google has told me is a good idea.

Please, please stop. Some of this is old wives tales. Some carries risks of making her worse.

Children and aggression ALWAYS require the help of a qualified behaviourist who can see exactly what is going on and deveop a science-based plan to help you go about it the right way. It cannot be helped over the internet.

If the rescue won't support you in finding one then look here: www.apbc.org.uk/find-an-apbc-member/

Hoppinggreen Tue 30-Jun-20 09:37:54

You’ve been a bit daft to get a largely unknown dog from a possibly dodgy source to be honest. Also, pack mentality is bollocks so ignore anyone who talks about that.
Growling isn’t actually too bad, it’s the dog saying she isn’t very comfortable with something which gives you the opportunity to try and fix it. Are there any particular triggers? I know you say your children but is it anything they do like make a loud noise or approach her? I am going to assume that the Rescue won’t be much help to you now
You are right to be worried to be honest, you have got what will be a large (probably) guarding/herding breed and not a dog I would around children unless it was well trained and stable. The good news is that your dc arent tiny so can understand that they need to behave in a certain way to be safe and also the dog is still quite young.
A trainer may be able to help you but you also need to be prepared for the fact that you might not be able to keep this dog, what you do with her if you can’t is another matter. She’s already been rescue and probably a street dog with an unknown past so rehoming would be really hard

tabulahrasa Tue 30-Jun-20 09:40:14

“We have been working on the kids being in "her" space, and them touching her when she is eating, taking food bowl away,”

Don’t do that!! You’ll give her much bigger issues.

Growling usually means they’re unhappy, those things will escalate that.

www.facebook.com/groups/374160792599484/?ref=share

This Facebook group has loads of training information and support, much better than google.

Veterinari Tue 30-Jun-20 09:42:29

We have been working on the kids being in "her" space, and them touching her when she is eating, taking food bowl away, kids giving her treats etc and all of the "pack mentality" stuff such as them walking in the doors first, everyone being fed before the dog etc

@FatBottomedGurl please please stop this and seek professional behavioural advice immediately. Use the APBC website to find a qualified behaviourist in your area.
Also order a copy of 'in defence of dogs' by john bradshaw

You are creating a situation where you are making your dog anxious and uncomfortable of having her precious resources removed and her space invaded, she is growling to tell you that she's worried by your behaviour and you are persisting in doing it. This behaviour is likely to lead to a bite.

Pack theory is bollocks. Dogs do not live in dominance hierarchies. What matters to them, and especially to rescue dogs who have had to fight for scraps, is ensuring they have access to their important resources (food, bed etc). Think about it. You've taken a dog from a deprived background, given her loads of good stuff, but now you're taking it away or invading her space. This unpredictability creates anxiety, and anxiety leads to aggression. You are basically forcing her to guard her bed and food. You are creating this problem.

Dogs should never be disturbed by children when eating or sleeping.

You need to create a safe haven for your dog, reassure her that the resources she's worried about are hers, let her eat in peace, and work on building your relationship through positive reinforcement training.

Please educate yourself.

Here's a free online course with useful info
https://www.coursera.org/learn/cats-and-dogs

I'll post some more links shortly

Medievalist Tue 30-Jun-20 09:49:12

“We have been working on the kids being in "her" space, and them touching her when she is eating, taking food bowl away,”

I can't believe anyone would actually think this is a good idea shock

This dog was found on the streets, no doubt hungry and scared. And you think it's a good idea to randomly remove its food and invade it's personal space? WTAF?!

Veterinari Tue 30-Jun-20 09:49:40

https://www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/why-not-dominance.php

Find a behaviourist:
www.apbc.org.uk/help/regions
Free online course about dog and cat behaviour And what your pet needs
www.coursera.org/learn/cats-and-dogs
General dog and cat behaviour:
www.apbc.org.uk/articles
Buying a puppy
puppycontract.rspca.org.uk/home
Puppy socialisation
www.thepuppyplan.com
Dog needs and Training
www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/
Child-dog interactions and bite prevention:
imnotamonster.org/any-dog-can-bite/

doggonesafe.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/tip-of-day-supervise-kids-and-dogs-be.html?m=1

mobile.liamjperkfoundation.org

www.doggonesafe.com
m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMszZOQAqfuVriBrbJxQdGzeoIq0d_G22

Ihaventgottimeforthis Tue 30-Jun-20 09:51:25

What situations prompt the growling?
Is it when they approach her when she has toys, or a chew or something?
Is it when she is resting in her bed? When they are being noisy?
If there is a pattern it might help you understand what she is trying to tell you.
If there isn't a particular theme, she might just not like children.

Medievalist Tue 30-Jun-20 09:55:48

If there isn't a particular theme, she might just not like children

She probably doesn't if they're taking her food away and stressing her out when she's eating!

Veterinari Tue 30-Jun-20 09:56:17

Also @FatBottomedGurl

Please join the FB group dog training behaviour and advice, and read through the files and resources on there.

Adopting dogs from overseas is not straightforward especially when you have children and from the sounds of your post, almost no dog experience.

You really need to do some reading and get professional advice. If your dog trainer friend is advising you to be leader of the pack, she's about 40 years out of date and her advice in this situation is dangerous. Please don't listen to her.

Ylvamoon Tue 30-Jun-20 09:56:27

All I can say is, Imagine you have just had a horrible journey to some dubious holiday resort, some staff in the resort seem lovely giving you a lovely time showing you around and tending your needs ... others are horrible spend time with you when you want a rest, sitting too close to you, touching you all over! Then dinner is served, you get a lovely dinner, it's tasty ... and it's taken away after a few months full!
I bet you will be very angry!

Your dog is stressed and unhappy. Try and let your dog settle into the family, yes to training, especially with the kids.
Teaching tricks and basic commands separate from meal times and rest time!

It's a puppy, you can turn it round!
The blue cross has some great basic training videos for you & your children.
But please leave feeding and resting time alone.

FatBottomedGurl Tue 30-Jun-20 09:59:51

I am absolutley willing to work on this, and take advice. I cant really understand why people are being so judgemental and all this "I cant believe you would..." - erm, not everyone knows all things all the times, I am actively seeking help and advise here - so why the fury?

Also, in terms of cant believe I would get a large breed from a dodgy source - she has come from a great Spanish charity where I know people who are involved in it - nothing dodgy about it. She is a stray rescued at a young age. 99.9% of their dogs are mongrels, as is my rescue. Her paperwork says Belgian Shephard cross but they will have no way of knowing that for sure - its just her colouring etc which I assume is leading them to that conclusion. I think its a safe comment to say that alot of rescue dogs are of unknown heritage, doesnt make everyone who rescues one an idiot.

Also, I clearly said in my post I was trying to get a behaviourist/trainer but face to face is ruled out at the moment due to lockdown.

OP’s posts: |
PalTheGent Tue 30-Jun-20 10:06:10

Also, I clearly said in my post I was trying to get a behaviourist/trainer but face to face is ruled out at the moment due to lockdown.

Do keep trying. Most the behavourists I know have/are planning to start back on face to face very soon.

Ihaventgottimeforthis Tue 30-Jun-20 10:06:34

Some behaviourists will do 1-2-1 at the moment OP, the lady who fostered my pup is.
But video consultations can be helpful, especially in the early stages.

The main thing is, don't ignore or punish the growling. She's trying to tell you something in a low-impact way.
I know you're not ignoring it, that's why you're posting here, but just get the children to back off from direct interactions with her at the moment, until you all know each other better.
She is still very new to you, and will be in the early stages of rehabilitating from a young life on the streets, and has missed out on socialisation at a crucial stage.

Hoppinggreen Tue 30-Jun-20 10:06:48

If the Rescue are so great then they should be able to help you and if all else fails they will take her back.
Nobody said you were an idiot and I don’t see any Fury either, just sound advice from some very experienced people.

MrsVeryTired Tue 30-Jun-20 10:11:56

Eeeek! Another one stressed at your approach. Definitely the kids need to give the dog space and also lots of training and treats. If they are the ones giving the treats/playing if she likes to play, then she will get more comfortable with them. I have a baby gate into my utility area where my rescue goes if he's stressed. I can then give him treats etc to calm him while the baby gate keeps me safe if he's still snappy/growly and needs more time/space.

The fact they are not little ones is good, encourage them to be calm around her, absolutely always get away if she growls at them.

There's a book called "Mine" by Jean Donaldson about resource guarding which is very common in rescue dogs. Its also very informative about dogs in general, understanding them etc. If you'd been a starving street dog I think you'd probably want to guard your "stuff" too.

Absolute Dogs are great for dog training ideas and their linked chat forum Naughty But Nice (for Dog Owners) is great too. link

Veterinari Tue 30-Jun-20 10:13:12

No one is being judgemental.

I think people are just surprised that a charity have rehomed an anxious rescue dog to a busy home with children and an adult who knows nothing about dogs (generally an unsafe situation). And probably also surprised that you did no research before getting a dog.

Having said that it's great you're asking for help now and we've already given you loads of good advice and resources. But to engage fully you'll need to be less defensive, accept that you've already done a lot of things wrong with this puppy, and unless you want to risk damaging her behaviourally for the rest of her life you need to get professional advice ASAP even if just by video consult, and do a lot of learning very quickly.

PalTheGent Tue 30-Jun-20 10:17:22

I just wanted to also pick up on this I have reached out to a friend of mine who is a dog trainer and she is giving free advice but cant do any hands-on classes due to lockdown limitations.

Without withing to insult your friend, I am genuinely struggling to imagine a modern trainer who would allow you to be so mistaken in your approach. It is worth keeping in mind that they might be a great friend but not such a great dog trainer - or, at least a very old fashioned one who has not kept up with advances in canine behaviour understanding - and making an effort to go to someone else for help here.

FatBottomedGurl Tue 30-Jun-20 10:22:46

In defence of my friend, she isnt the one who has given me the advise I have been trying up to now, I had simply been reading things online. I have only recently got in touch with my friend in regards to getting proper training and have only been advised so far that things are still on hold due to lockdown. I will 100% be looking into other training options available to me whilst lockdown is ongoing.

OP’s posts: |
Judashascomeintosomemoney Tue 30-Jun-20 10:23:18

We have been working on the kids being in "her" space, and them touching her when she is eating, taking food bowl away
Just to clarify, Did you mean to say they are NOT doing these things or that they ARE doing these things?

PalTheGent Tue 30-Jun-20 10:25:15

FatBottomedGurl

In defence of my friend, she isnt the one who has given me the advise I have been trying up to now, I had simply been reading things online. I have only recently got in touch with my friend in regards to getting proper training and have only been advised so far that things are still on hold due to lockdown. I will 100% be looking into other training options available to me whilst lockdown is ongoing.

Sounds good. In the meantime, lots of space and peace for your puppy (and treats every time she does something good).

pigsDOfly Tue 30-Jun-20 10:25:39

Dear God, Just stop what you're doing, stop Googling rubbish advice and find a properly qualified behaviourist.

I'd growl at kids, or anyone else, who kept touching me or tried to take my plate away when I was eating.

Very few dogs like to be touched when eating. The poor animal is giving you and your kids a warning that it's not happy. Heed that warning and leave it alone when it wants to be left alone.

Given it's history, you are very lucky that what you're doing hasn't caused the dog to snap at your children; in fact by just growling at them it's showing a good deal of restraint.

Belgian Shepherds are used as police dogs and guard dogs. It's probably going to be a big dog. Teach your children to treat it with respect and stop making it growl.

MrsVeryTired Tue 30-Jun-20 10:27:56

Hopefully you can move forward with the good tips, my rescue is a border collie but has (we suspect) some GSD or shepherd mix in there too, he's lovely and like my shadow (he's a mummys boy) but stressy too and easily panicked.

ItsSpittingEverybodyIn Tue 30-Jun-20 10:28:15

I'm not surprised the dog is growling if you're taking food bowl away?

MrsVeryTired Tue 30-Jun-20 10:30:25

And I've just reread your OP, doesn't chase the cats is seriously good, Ive had mine over 2 years and he still goes nuts at the cat blush

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