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Dog Aggressive Towards My One Year Old

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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Baxter

1213303
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 11:28am PST 
I adopted Baxter from the shelter about a year ago and though we've had a few problems with aggression (mostly provoked by food) he's been a great addition to the family.

He likes to play with the adults in the house as well as my other dog Bailey but has reservations about my kids. He plays ok with my three year old (I had to teach them both about proper edicate with the other) but still will snap when agitated.

But today my one year old (who doesn't really care for the dogs) walked by Baxter today and, seemingly doing nothing wrong, was bitten on the hand. I always have them in the same room as me when the dogs are out so luckily I was there to stop it, but if I hadn't the results would have been more severe then the bite mark on my sons hand.

I'm extremely concerned about this. I've accepted that something in his home before he came here might have made him favor aggressive behavior and I've done everything I can to live with it but this attack was completely unprovoked and could have been much worse. My husband wants to rehome him (as he's shown agression with my older son before) ecspecially because we have a daughter on the way (due in March). I'm inclined to agree with him but we all love him so much and would hate to see him go.

Is this an appropriate reason to rehome him? Are we overeacting?

Thanks!
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Cinnamon

wheres mommy?!
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 11:53am PST 
At first I was thinking of a few behavior training books to recommend, but once I saw Baxter has actually bitten the child.. you need a behaviorist- right away. Do NOT put it off! The behavior will only get worse without modification with a professional. You can go to apdt.com and search for a positive reinforcement behaviorist or trainer in your area using the 'trainer search' at the top right of the page. DO NOT use punishment or dominance methods!!! Those techniques will cause the behavior to worsen.
I wouldn't recommend rehoming him unless you don't have the time or willing commitment to offer Baxter in modifying his naughty behavior- which is justified in his eyes- OR if a trained behaviorist recommends it. Good Luck, please keep us updated!

Edited by author Sun Oct 23, '11 11:54am PST

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Baxter

1213303
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 12:18pm PST 
We've actually taken him to a behavioralist/trainer before, about 6 months ago when he had a particularly aggressive reaction towards my oldest son. Since then, he's improved greatly but, of course, still retains his aggressive side and has a aggression issue here or there but for the most part he's been a lot better. We don't react negatively towards him, we just remove him from the situation because (like you said) he thinks that that's the normal way to handle things. We also do a lot of positive reinforcement training when he reacts in a way that is more desireable then the growling or snappning. When we first got him he was extremely food aggressive and did not like to be touched suddenly (obvious signs of abuse) but since we started working with him, he's excelled and will now even let me take something from his mouth and hasn't had an aggressive reaction towards me in months. I'm just worried now that this just isn't the best home for him as he is very uncomfortable around children. I'll still check into the website you gave me to see if there is someone out there who can further help me though, thank you!! I need all the advice I can get smile
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Gunther

Giant Shih Tzu
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 1:29pm PST 
As hard as it may be, I just don't think a home with children is right for Baxter. Even if you do get another behaviorist and work on the issues, he's never going to be a kid loving dog. I think a home with an older, couple, maybe much older kids, would be better for him. For a person with no children, or a couple who has no children at home, I think he'd be a wonderful pet. It really isn't fair to him or your children keeping him in the home. That's just my opinion. Especially since he has actually bitten.
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 3:17pm PST 
I agree with Gunther.

This dog may just not feel comfortable around children in general. Raising 3 young kids while at the same time trying to keep everyone safe AND work with this dog is A LOT!

If this dog is only showing this behavior towards young children, he may just be better suited in a home with older kids or no kids. If he's a great dog other than this issue, I don't see it as that big of a problem for households without children.

Either way, it is a tough decision to make. I don't see this as a quick fix if it indeed can be fixed. And getting such young kids to cooperate or remember rules like that doesn't seem realistic.

It's up to you on what you feel is best.

Edited by author Sun Oct 23, '11 3:18pm PST

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ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 4:21pm PST 
So if you have seen a behaviorist, you SHOULD be able to list his triggers. I would NOT expect to hear "But today my one year old (who doesn't really care for the dogs) walked by Baxter today and, seemingly doing nothing wrong, was bitten on the hand." from someone who has seen a good behaviorist. Not that your son did anything wrong, but you should be looking at what is causing the emotions, how you can manage the behavior, what you can do to change it.

Could you tell us what issues you had before and how you resolved them?

I will tell you straight out, as a foster, as a trainer, it is NOT easy to rehome a dog with aggression issues. Even if the issue is only directed at children, it is still not a simple thing. Rehoming a dog that bites CAN be a liability issue for you, if the dog bites in his new home. So be very careful if this is the route you choose to take.
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Baxter

1213303
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 5:05pm PST 
Thanks to all who replied, I appreciate the different outlooks into my situation. I DO know my dog's triggers and have been thusfar successful with his aggression except for one or two outbursts. When we first got him, I couldn't go near him when he had a treat and when he was eating and my son walked by to get outside, he full on snarled at him. So what I did is sat with Baxter, and my son, and would give him treats as a reward system and only reward him on our terms. My son also helps to feed them and water them. He also gives them rawhides but I only let them have them when the boys are away from the house, in bed, or when the dogs are in their own area as I don't like them to have anything that they could get aggressive over lying around. We also had issues when my son played with the dogs ( I saw that Baxter was extremely agitated by loud playing or chasing) so we devised some games that he could play with the dog without doing these things(fetch, tug-rope and taking him on walks). I also have the dogs sit down with the boys for socializing purposes and so the boys know the proper way to pet and love the dogs. That being said, sometimes I find my three year old being a three year old but I always reprimand him, not the dog, when it's his fault. The dogs aren't allowed to be alone with the kids (not only for the kids' sake but the dogs' as well) and I make sure that the environment isn't a stressful one for anyone if I can manage it.

The whole other side of the situation is that my other son, my one year old, doesn't even really like the dogs. He doesn't chase or grab them and he hates it when he's licked by them. I've sat down with him and the dogs and pet them with him and he just wanted to go about his business. So I don't really think that my son did anything to him when he walked by him and Baxter snapped at him.

The only thing I can think of is that Baxter might have been tired (which it didn't seem like he was, when he's tired he usually goes into his area or stays by me) from being outside while we ate breakfast and since he doesn't really prefer interaction the kids, got agitated when he thought the baby was approaching him. The problems with this is that A)I can try and teach my one year old to stay away from the dogs but in the end... he's a one year old OR B) I can keep Baxter away from the kids just in case he's tired or whatnot, but what kind of life is that for him?

I firmly believe that Baxter is part of the family and I've tried really hard to integrate both of my dogs into mine. I've also accepted the fact that he's a shelter dog who's obviously had some issues in his past and I've spent a large amount of money and time working with him. But when it all boils down to it, I have to not only do what is best for my kids but also the dogs. Also, of course I'd let whoever is adopting him know about the situation and I'd hope to give him to a family member if I go that route.

I'm sincerely hoping for any advice anyone else can give me as I'd love to keep him in my family but in the end the most important thing is to make sure everyone's quality of life (both the dogs and the kids) is as good as it can be. Thanks again for any help you can give me! smile
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ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 7:07pm PST 
Did Baxter have food when your 1 tear old walked by? Was this a resource guarding incident? I would advise you to pick up a copy of Mine! for a more in depth protocol for resource guarding than it seems you got.

And you CAN do this, I own a dog who came to me as a 7 year old foster with extreme human aggression issues. My grandson has basically grown up around this dog and we have never had an issue.

Of course, there is a difference between having a child in my house 5 days a week for 8-10 hours and having one live here, but I still think if you want to do it, you can.

So what exactly did trigger this bite? Was it simply proximity? Was it a resource guarding issue? Was it a slip in management?

What have you done to change Baxter's feelings about whatever caused the bite? Have you done any CC&D? Do you have a well worked out plan that includes management and training from your behaviorist?
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Baxter

1213303
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 7:22pm PST 
I cleaned everything up after breakfast and after the incident, I triple checked the area for food because I thought that it had to be the reason for biting but found nothing. It had to be that for some reason, he didn't want my one year old near him at the time.

This is how it was with my older son when I first introduced them (he was two then) and he has now grown to accept and even sometimes engage my son. But it's harder with a one year old who has no interest in dogs and a one year old's listening skills to have effective bonding time.

The plan laid out by my trainer has been extremely effective thus far with him but I think that smaller children just make him nervous. I've also made an appointment with my vet to see if something is wrong with his eyesight... perhaps my baby startled him (he HATES being surprised). Because aside from the few incidents, he's actually a great dog with a very sweet temperment. He loves to cuddle, he's not the "alpha dog" my 12lb female dog Bailey is. He gets along great with other dogs and is slightly weary of new people but with the encouragement from Bailey, he warms up right away.

That's the main reason I'm so upset about possibly rehoming him, it's not like he's an evil dog with a bad temper, he's a sweet dog with insecurities... I'm just worried that the insecurities are going to manifest in the worst way possible.

Thank you for reccomending that book "Mine!" to me, I'll check it out asap. Like I said earlier, he's come a long way but I in no way trust my kids around him without me around... just in case. Your story about your dog gives me hope! I think I'm also weary because I had a horrbile experiance a few years back with an aggressive dog that I loved that attacked someone.

Thanks again for all the advice you've all given me!
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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Sun Oct 23, '11 8:00pm PST 
Baxters Mom,
I understand your frustration with your situation but some dogs just don't do well with small children. I'm glad you never leave Baxter unsupervised with your children. I don't believe that's ever a wise choice no matter wether the dog was a young puppy when added to the family or an older puppy or dog. Your best option may be rehoming him with a family member with either no children or one with older children. Children themselves may be a trigger for agression and I didn't check what breeds he was supposed to be but he may be has a breed known for not doing well with small children. If you decide to continue working with him be careful that your children have limited contact until you are more certain of his reaction. Best of luck to you.
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