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Adopted dog mouthing/biting kids

  1. #1

    Adopted dog mouthing/biting kids

    My family adopted a dog about a week ago. She’s a beautiful large breed adult. She’s extremely sweet and well exercised, but she will randomly run up to a child who’s minding their own business and start mouthing them - not gently, either. My kids have marks from her.

    I taught my kids to stand still, not make a sound and keep their eyes off the dog, but I’m always close to stop this from happening and usually avoid it. Still, it’s happened twice, and I’ve stopped it from happening dozens of times, during this week. Today was a really scary incident. My oldest child let her out of her crate and took her into our back yard while I was in the shower and my wife was outside with the little kids, and before my wife even noticed her, she ran into our 4-year-old, knocked her over where her head slammed into our concrete patio, and started mouthing her face hard enough for it to hurt my child.

    My child thought the dog was going to kill her. We all love this dog, but that could happen again, and I am worried that one day, someone will get seriously hurt. I know that a dog needs to be supervised around kids all of the time, but I’m asking what you would do in this position. We are heartbroken to think about it, but do we return this dog to the shelter? Or, if you were in my shoes, would you just continue training, redirecting, private trainer, etc? I love her, and I’m willing to put a lot of work into training her, but I can’t put my kids in a dangerous position.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    She's very new to the family and just needs training in my opinion. Have an adult control her on a leash for awhile, leave it loose enough for her to walk around the kids, but anticipate when she's about to get too rough with one of them and stop it before it happens, or at least, as it's happening. Tell her no, you can also go over to her and order her to sit if she looks like she's going to do something like that with the kids. When she does what you tell her, calmly praise her and give a small treat.

    The kids can also tell her 'easy' and immediately give her something in her mouth like a chew toy or rawhide roll. You have to stop the mouthing by substituting something that she will immediately like to chew on and get distracted from mouthing the kids. I used to tell my pups, " chew on this", then when they got bored I'd pick up the rawhide bone and put it in my pocket for the next lesson. Best to monitor the rawhide and throw out when it gets small, to avoid any choking.

    Have your kids become proactive in the training too, if possible let one of them, the oldest, feed her daily. They should make her sit first before ever setting down the bowl of food. If she needs training to sit, etc. positive reinforcement and small treats only when she does what you want will be effective.

    You, your wife and the kids need to act as her leader, and be very calm, confident, firm and in control. No excited yelling when the dog acts up, everyone needs to calmly show the dog what not to do, she doesn't know these things yet and depends on your guys to teach her how to please you. Don't give up. When she's let out of the kennel, first hook her up to a leash and make her sit. When she sits obediently, then she can be let loose and observed.

    What breed is she? Any history about her behavior in the past? Remember her surroundings and family are new to her, and she needs to bond and feel secure....the good behavior will follow.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    If/when someone sees the behavior coming, they should turn their back on the dog, stand up into a higher position than the dog if possible, move away, and deprive her of attention. Yes, hopefully you have something handy to give her to chew on as a substitute. But the other half of the equation is that you do not want the dog to think this is an acceptable way to ask for attention or playtime... or treats for that matter. Give her the chew, but don't look pleased or coddle her, and don't make the chew seem like a reward. Alpha's "NO... you chew on this" is good, common advice. Your gal needs to learn that engaging someone in that way does not gain her attention or playtime.

    Teething is a natural issue that most dogs go through and get trained out of when they are puppies. Your lady likely was just never trained in this when she was a puppy. But she should be able to learn it.

    Just like successfully pottying outside for a puppy should be "super-happy-party time", teething on people or interacting with them inappropriately should be "no-fun-only-makes-people-go-away" time.

    P.S. Please teach the kids to never get their face near hers and to avoid looking her in the eyes at close range (both of which many dogs consider a challenge to fight)
    Last edited by Dog Force One; 03-10-2019 at 09:07 PM.

  4. #4
    If I had even the slightest question or worry about that dog around my kids, that dog would be returned to the shelter as fast as I could get it there.

    Do you want to further risk your children's safety? If so, why?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Quote Originally Posted by Ghost Comanche View Post
    If I had even the slightest question or worry about that dog around my kids, that dog would be returned to the shelter as fast as I could get it there.

    Do you want to further risk your children's safety? If so, why?
    That's one way of seeing the world. However real life situations often do not occur in black and white terms, and distilling everything down to absolutisms has its own consequences. I also don't think moralizing was requested.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    A large dog who is suddenly around small children needs to be trained to be gentle, that's the responsibility of the adult owners and the older children mostly, but all can be taught to discourage any mouthing behavior that is obviously a sign of playfulness and old teething behavior that was ignored by any previous owners. I would not take the dog back to the shelter without giving time to train and let the dog to learn when to be gentle, go easy, etc. Dogs are smart and willing to please, but they only know what they know until you teach them otherwise.

    If the dog was snarling, growling and biting the kids causing them to bleed, that would be another issue, but this dog just seems large and a bit awkward, in a new environment and needs a chance to calm down, know the family and learn some set rules for manners.

  7. #7
    It's very sorry for hearing what your kid experienced. Lots of rescue dogs I met are not very child-friendly, especially to little kids and toddlers. As the dog from shelters may be abused or attacked by humans, they are more sensitive to inadvertent behaviors of a child than household dogs. So, to avoid similar events, you should re-educate your dog and your kids. Before he is completely well-trained. Never let your dog close to your kids too near to attack them. You might take much attention, patience, and persistence once you decide to train your dog. My suggestions are:
    1. Your dog should be fully vaccinated.
    2. When your kids at home, isolate your dog by a crate, baby gate, or room. Leash your dog once unlock her
    3. If your kids are not at home, it's high time to teach your dog about obedience commands that will be useful to control her inappropriate behaviors. Here is a guide of four basic commands for your reference
    4. Teach your kids not to touch your dog without your permission.
    5. Shorten the gap between your kids and the dog. Introduce your kids to toss treats on the floor and wait for the dog access to them gradually and peacefully. Take a family trip with your new member (on leash) on a sunny day, dog-friendly parks and breaches can create happy memory between them in a positive manner.
    6. Other useful tips can be seen in this article: Top Ten Tips for Childproofing a Dog

    Good luck!

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