What should I do? Schnauzer puppy attacks my toddler!

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Barked: Sun Jul 22, '12 5:52pm PST 
I have a three month old miniature schnauzer puppy we are currently working on training. He is doing well with potty training and with basic sit, stay etc. commands. He gets a little bit bite-y at times and we have been working on just saying no once and then ignoring him after he exibits his behavior. I have been working with my three year old daughter on staying calm and ignoring him when he behaves this way as well. Sometimes he will jump up and bite her unprovoked, just like when she is walking across the room or something. Does anyone have any tips on getting my puppy to stop attacking my daughter this way. I have told her not to jump around or look exciting and stuff in when hes in those moods bc she will look like something fun to play with but he's still been doing it when she is just sitting or standing still and minding her own business. He is our only pet in the house and she is the only child in the house. Thanks!

Herpaderp-apotam- us
Barked: Sun Jul 22, '12 7:24pm PST 
A noisy, wobbly toddler walking in front of a rambunctious 3 month old puppy? Doesn't like the "attack" is unprovoked at all to me. The puppy is trying to play, and they tend to chase after anything that moves. Even if your kid is just sitting there, the puppy will still try and initiate play.

I'm sure people with children (or just more experience with kids and dogs than me) can offer more useful tips than I can, but I just want to say that your puppy is not "attacking" your child, nor are the puppy's actions unprovoked.

Wishing For Snow
Barked: Sun Jul 22, '12 7:30pm PST 
I think the first thing you should do is change how you are describing the situation. "Attacking" is a very harsh term and this is hardly what is happening. You have a very rambunctious breed of puppy - one that likely has a higher than average prey drive. You combine that with a toddler and you get a puppy that thinks chasing and biting a child is extremely fun and rewarding. He is not attacking, he simply has not learned impulse control or bite inhibition. People seem to think that kids and puppies make such a cute combination, but that is hardly the case. Kids do all the things that encourage a puppy to chase and bite - they run erratically, they screech and scream and flail their arms. Puppies think this is great fun! Kids and parents do not.
First, you are going to need to work on impulse control and basic manners with both puppy and child. No running in the house and screaming from the child. The puppy is going to need to be redirected when over stimulated and he needs an outlet for his energy - exercise and mind games to tire him out. Puppy and child should never be left alone together, even for a second. You can get your child involved in playing "brain" games with the puppy. Hide kibble around the room or yard with your child's help and then get puppy to go search for it.
Puppy phases don't last forever but they do take some work to get through. Be consistent and fair and maybe look into taking a puppy K class where you can talk to others in the same situation.


Barked: Sun Jul 22, '12 7:39pm PST 
Yeah, your puppy is just being a puppy. Kato would literally turn into like a devil puppy sometimes. I, an adult, was sometimes afraid of those sharp puppy teeth!

At this point, for the safety of your child, I would maybe keep the pup on leash when the child is in the room and the puppy is full of energy. I don't believe the puppy is attacking your child, but those teeth and claws hurt, and I wouldn't want a child dealing with that.

Your pup just needs to learn some inhibition, which will come with training and most certainly time. All puppies get mouthy and nippy.

At this point, the one thing your pup really wants to do is play! So the ultimate punishment for this biting is getting ignored. Don't even say "no" as sometimes even that split second of attention is enough to encourage the pup to keep up the antics. Just cross your arms, look away from the pup, no eye contact and stay still. Standing up can help too. If the pup continues to nip and bite while you're ignoring, I would do a time out. Put the pup in another room or their crate and only let them out when they settle down some. This worked wonders for Kato.

Wanted to add that a good thing to really work on is sit. Getting sit ingrained in their brains as something to do to get something they want is awesome. So, just have the pup sit for everything you can think of at this point...sit before getting fed, sit before going outside, etc. Have the pup sit before they get something they want. That way, the pup learns that when he's in a predicament and wants something from you, he'll try sitting. So that means that when you ignore him when he bites, he may stop, think and then sit...when his butt hits the floor, you can continue playing. This is a great habit to make for the pup. Getting him to sit on his own to get something he wants. Much better than jumping, nipping, biting, scratching and all that other puppy stuff.

The other thing to keep in mind is that puppies NEED to chew. So, you can't just take that away. You need to also provide an outlet for that. You can redirect any nipping onto an acceptable toy to chew on. So, a little nibbling on you, you can get a nearby toy and give it to the pup and praise for chewing on that.

Just mix and match and see what combo works best for you.

I think it's great you're teaching your kid how to behave around dogs, but puppies are quite tough to deal with as they are still learning and have no inhibitions, so your child might not be able to do all that you ask because of a persistent pup who just needs to learn more about the rules.

Edited by author Sun Jul 22, '12 7:44pm PST


Barked: Mon Jul 23, '12 2:50pm PST 
No tips for you, just perspective smile

You cannot expect your toddler to act like a calm, zen, miniature version of a mentally well balanced adult human. There is no way she is going to be able to accurately distinguish his "moods" and then have the where with all to respond accordingly. Most adults don't have that level of awareness and control....just take a peek around dogster, especially this forum, the evidence is everywhere lol

On that same token you cannot expect your three month old prey driven puppy to act like a calm, zen miniature version of a well trained mentally well balanced adult dog. He's been away from mom for a max of 4 weeks (hopefully less). That's nothing in the lifetime of a dog, he's barely acclimated to your home and family. He's going to periodically be a rude, snarky, pain in the butt butt (for lack of a stronger word) for the next 14-20+ months. Miniature Schnauzers are great at dishing out snark. Be prepared for it to last a lot longer than that even. Once you do though the rest of his life he'll be a fantastic companion, and in the end it'll all be worth it. Miniature Schnauzers are huge in my family, I swear they all hit 4-5 years old and there's literally a switch that flips....anything younger than that and I hesitate to even visit the home it resides in. I swear, you can see the horns until then lol

There is nothing wrong with having both a toddler and a puppy (especially one like this) at the same time, I did it many times over when my children were toddler/preschoolers/schoolagers (rowdiness doesn't end with the toddler stage, just in case you weren't aware wink ). You do however need to have reasonable expectations when managing them both, especially together.

What you are expecting out of either right now is never going to happen.

Let your kiddo act her age, please don't strip her of her childhood right to act rambunctious for the sake of a stinker pup. She should be able to run squealing through your house at her hearts content without getting jumped by an animal. She didn't ask for the dog, and if you keep trying to restrict her spirit because of him she's eventually going to learn to resent him. As long as she isn't picking on or otherwise harassing the dog she should be allowed to behave anyway she's like to around him.

Manage your pup until you have more time to work out the rough edges of his training. He'll come around eventually, but there's no need to subject him to leaping over his personal threshold before he's learned better or her to his assaults.

On that note I disagree completely with those who have said attacking is the wrong word. That's exactly what he's doing, just not with the malicious intent OP may be assuming. All carnivores hone their craft of hunting this way in their infancies. They engage near anyone in the same way because it's a hardwired instinct. Before domestication it was literally THE most essential piece of the survival of the species. After domestication the urge to actually kill waned for some but the instinct to at least learn how to really never did. This is exactly why feral dogs are so great at adapting to fend for themselves.

It's exactly why sighthounds, scenthounds, guardian breeds, sportdogs etc do what they do and like no others, and it's exactly why for some breeds of dog it's literally impossible to overcome infinitely powerful inherent instincts like prey drive. Your dog destuffing that stuffy isn't about your oooh's and awwweeee's, he doesn't care how you feel about it and it's exactly why many dogs will take a chunk out of your arm if you try to take them away mid-disembowelment...bite inhibition learned within a litter isn't done for the sake of human convenience, they wrestle, and romp and bite and pin each other to learn how to fend for themselves should the need ever arise. They chase and mouth and bite their people and other animals to scratch the exact same itch, and it needs to be *trained* on to be controlled. That doesn't happen in a month's time. Sometimes it can't be completely phased out and management the rest of the dogs life becomes essential.

I truly believe some people forget dogs are, in the end, just ANIMALS. Why some people expect so much out of them sometimes is beyond me.

Love me.
Barked: Mon Jul 23, '12 3:02pm PST 
Kato and Trigger: Thank you!applause Honestly, I am getting tired of how many times people assume 'it is the child's fault they need to behave better, etc'. Nah, they are being a kid, and the puppy is being a puppy (and biting in play is what they do to learn how to hunt/fight, I agree that while normal, it is attacking). I don't have much more to add then that, just wanted to say I think both of you had good advice/perspective for the OP.way to go

Edited by author Mon Jul 23, '12 3:06pm PST


When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Mon Jul 23, '12 9:21pm PST 
Puppies attack kids. Toddlers strangle puppies. Its all a learning thing. I agree completely with Trigger. Let your child be a child, let your puppy be a puppy and you be a parent. Keep them seperated and supervised. Your puppy shouldn't have free run of the house at this age anyway. Tethered to you or secured in a safe room or crate. Take them both for a walk or play gentle games with both. Teach the puppy to fetch and teach your child to throw a ball. Kids and puppies do well together with supervision and imagination.

Always my angel.
Barked: Mon Jul 23, '12 11:23pm PST 
For what it's worth, the toddlers I know LOVE getting involved in certain types of mental games with dogs. Hiding treats for the dog to find is a big one. It's a great way to exhaust the dogs AND gives the kids a way to play with the dog while keeping their distance.

Definitely second the toy-substitution suggestion as well - if the dog nips/bites you or your child, immediately give them a toy to chew on instead and then walk away. That second piece is especially important if your toddler is the one giving the toy, at least if your puppy gets overexcited during games like tug. The rule my nephews follow is that if one of my parents' dogs grabs a toy that they're holding, they MUST drop the toy IMMEDIATELY and then ask an adult to get the toy back for them. This is because Keiko, in particular, gets overexcited by tug-type games and is liable to miss the toy and bite your hand or leg by accident. So for their own safety, they never hold the same object at the same time. Of course, Keiko has a similar rule for the children (she's supposed to drop anything she's holding if the kids touch it) so there's extra precautions taken there.

You might not need a rule like that depending on how your puppy is with toys, but it's something to keep in mind.

Oh! Another good idea is to get your toddler involved in training. Once the puppy has a solid "sit" (or something similar) down, try teaching your toddler how to cue the dog to sit. That's another thing they can do together that doesn't involve direct contact.

Try to think of activities that are a bit structured for them to do together, and separate the two when the puppy is overstimulated (you probably already have a baby gate or two - those are fantastic). Just make sure your child knows not to rile the puppy up through baby gates or crates (the crate, especially, should be a place where the puppy always gets quiet time) or you could set yourself up for issues.

Any kind of alternative behavior you can ask for when the puppy is riled up and going into "attack mode" is fantastic - work on sit and come for now, with fantastic rewards from you for doing each. And make sure the two are only together when you can closely supervise them. It's kind of a pain, I know, but it's the best way to keep training consistent (and therefore more effective) while avoiding potentially dangerous accidents.

Barked: Tue Jul 24, '12 3:15am PST 
I agree it's good to expect your child to be kind to the dog and learn to be calm around excitable dogs. So many parents don't teach their kids this at all, and kids tend to assume all dogs are the same as their pet at home. I think a lot of bites are caused that way.

But at the same time kids still need to be able to play and the puppy should absolutely not be allowed to attack them, even in play, ever, for any reason. It's just not fair to the 3 year old. Puppy teeth/claws hurt! If one of them starts to get rowdy they either need separated or the puppy needs put on a leash.

Make sure both the child and the puppy have plenty of outlets for their energy other than each other.

Be consistent and in a couple years the dog and child will probably get along so well and you'll have forgotten all about any trouble smile

Barked: Tue Jul 24, '12 7:41am PST 
Trigger, teaching a kid the general good behaviors of how to act around dogs isn't stripping them of their childhood. It's fine to teach them some things about being calm/careful around pups. We did that when my cousin's 2-year-old wanted to pet Kato. Kato was afraid of her, and her running up to him, arms stretched out to hug him was not going to end well, so we told her that she needed to be gentle with the dog, and she learned quite easily. Did she goof up and run around like crazy too? Heck yes. She's 2!

Like I said, you can't expect the child to always be that way, and many times, they are just going to be a crazy kid, and that's fine too. But that doesn't mean you just let them do whatever they want.

Maybe it's just semantics, but I don't see puppies not knowing their limits as "attacking." Would you describe rough housing within the litter as attacks? They test their boundaries and learn what is fun and what they can get away with. Chasing a moving object and biting it is fun. The pup just needs to learn that that is not an acceptable behavior. If he wants to bite something, there are toys for that.
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