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Old 02-05-2008, 05:58 PM
 
3 posts, read 6,003 times
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Good Evening,

I am looking for some advice. We adopted a yellow lab mix (looks all lab to me) from a rescue group about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I have 3 girls ages 6,9,12. The first few days she did great with the kids. They were all over her and she was all over them. After about a week, she snapped at the youngest twice in one day. My daughter was just petting her- nothing inappropriate..Both times the dog was on the couch with me. She also had an ear infection.Since then, we have established some ground rules. No couch sitting and the younger one has been in charge of food and treats. She seemed to be doing fine.

A couple of times this week, she has growled at the kids, but I couldn't really determine if she was just talking. The kids didn't feel that is was directed at them.

Tonight, we were finishing up dinner and my middle daughter was petting the dog appropriately and she snapped at her. Scared her enough to make her cry.

This is a spayed female. I am concerned. I have all kinds of children running through the house. Any suggestions. We know she was an owner release to the shelter and she has had pups. She has had training - walks well on a leash and sits on command. I have her signed up to start more training tommorrow.

Any advice or comments?? Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 02-05-2008, 06:45 PM
 
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Did she come from an enviroment that had children, if so they may have tantilized her and that may be why she is snapping at your children. I had a friend that had a rescued Lab that had bitten two people, both men with a beard. Come to find out the previous owner had a beard and had abused the dog, so the dog associated any males with a beard to his former owner. Just a thought..
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Old 02-05-2008, 07:01 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 16,286,116 times
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First of all, 2 1/2 weeks may seem like a long time but it really isn't. I think sometimes we expect with good food, love and care that dogs will do fine - but this one may be a little skittish and we don't really know why yet?

Was this dog a proven dog with children prior to coming to you? How long was she in foster care, or was she in a kennel situation? Have you contacted the rescue? What is their reaction?

At this point the first thing I would recommend, which you've already done and GOOD FOR YOU! is to get your dog into obedience training. Because she can sit and heel and walk doesn't mean she's learned the pecking order and that it isn't negotiable. I can't stress enough how vitally important this is - it will build a bond. Even if she knows all the commands, it is a reinforcement for you as her "director". Repeat basic training 5 times if you have to, sometimes just the order of things is comforting and she will build her confidence level and be rewarded for things she basically already knows - I took one through basic three times just because I saw him absolutely blossom when he knew what was expected of him.

Secondly, no petting at the table. None. Dogs need to be not seen and not heard during meals for the most part or you will end up with utter confusion. Also, she may have been fed from the table in her former life and think that's her right...but if the dog has actually snapped at your child, I'm not one for putting the child in charge of the treats. You don't know if this dog could have latent food aggression issues and I wouldn't want to test that one right now. There's plenty of time for that.

Lastly, has she been rechecked on the ear infection? My best guess is there's been too much too fast, but there's something to do with the petting. It may just hurt her ear if it hasn't healed completely. Also, lots of dogs don't like for you to come over the top of them, or be petted on top of the head. Palm up, go under the chin. Most of all, until it is all sorted out, no rough and tumble play where things could get out of hand, and no leaving the kids unattended at all. Do you know when she was spayed? Was it recently enough that she could have an infection or be feeling bad from that?

My guess is that at first this was all fun and games and now the dog is pushing the envelope to see what will be acceptable, although there could be some sore ears in here. If there is something unusual that happens - and don't wait for the snap - sometimes putting her behind a baby gate and letting her chill out for a little while will get everything back to square one. A stern no and get her away from the family. Dogs aren't that different from kids sometimes - they will adjust their behavior to be part of the family. Can you tell if she is jealous at all of the kids and your attention to them, like maybe she sees them as a threat to her position in the family?

Contact the rescue. Immediately. Tell them what has happened and find out for sure if the dog has been with children and the ages, and make sure that isn't why she was surrendered. It happens, although they may not have been told the truth either. That happens as well. Tell them you want to work through this, if indeed you do, but that you need to know if any of this behavior has been seen before. If this dog has been in an all-adults household and suddenly has 3 children and their friends around, it could be very well that she is in system overload.

You're on the right track as far as the obedience, but don't set anyone up to fail. Minimize the time with the kids until it can all be sorted out - and have that ear followed up on and maybe just a good once-over by the vet to make sure you don't have an unseen pain problem going on that's making her act a little whacko...and please let us know how it goes in class for a while!

Oh - one more thing - if she's crate trained and starts to get antsy or anything else, a little chill time in the crate may be what she needs. I know if I had three kids around I'd probably want a crate, too!
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Old 02-05-2008, 07:17 PM
 
Location: Deep in the Heart of Texas
1,479 posts, read 7,015,654 times
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Sam I Am is absolutely correct. I work in rescue and it is not uncommon for issues to show up several weeks into the dog's transition to a new home.

One other thing I'd recommend: Teach your children and their friends not to hug the dog around the neck and to keep their faces away from the dog's head. It's a natural human desire to hug and snuggle a dog, but it isn't a natural thing for dogs to accept hugs and head pats. Most will tolerate it and some love such attention, but you really need to carefully gauge a new dog's tolerance level first.

Retrievers are mouthy by nature and while they can be great family dogs, they need structure, training and exercise. The fact that the dog had pups could be significant. Perhaps she is overloaded with new experiences, and sees your children as "pups" that she is correcting when she's had enough.

Do contact the rescue group, and please give the dog a quiet place to retreat to when she needs a time out, and don't leave your children unsupervised with the dog.

Best of luck.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:56 PM
 
3 posts, read 6,003 times
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Default update

Thanks for the advice. We really don't know the details of her prior life. She was only with the foster for a couple of weeks. The foster had a 5 year old daughter, but didn't witness any aggresion at all. There was another dog present.

Training went well yesterday. The trainer said not to worry. It is part of the process.

Today, a different story. I have really tried to have the kids give her some space. Tonight, I was reading the 6 year old her good night story. The lab was laying in the room on the floor. My daughter was petting her on her torso and out of the blue she snapped and caught her in the face. No skin was broken but it did leave a mark and scared us both. Again, totally unprovoked.

I am beginning to think that she is becoming really possesive of me and sees the kids at times as a threat. There was no warning behavior and no inappropriate actions of my daughter. She likes the kids, but loves my husband and I.

I have attempted to contact the rescue organization. I emailed them a couple of weeks ago when it first occurred. I phoned them on Tuesday and emailed and called again tonight. I haven't received any replies.

I am very upset and scared. I don't know what happened before we got her, but I don't know if I can keep her and have my children at risk. Any thoughts?
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Old 02-07-2008, 10:16 PM
 
Location: Ladysmith,Wisconsin
1,587 posts, read 6,675,951 times
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That rescue group gives good rescues a bad name. Someone should reply immediately. This dog seems to have been abused in some way by children and see's them as a threat.Cannot blame you for being afraid as nobody wants a child hurt. Keep on the rescue and document when this happens so if comes to it the rescue knows that should be in a adult only situation. Adjustment can take months for a true personality to come out. Bad thing is unsure of the dogs past.Just watch the dog near the kids and maybe try having kids feed treats with no touching of the dog so can see kids are nice they give me treats they mean no harm.
I have a Katrina rescue cat had him 2 years now and he was 11 when got him and only knew a woman. Took 1 year before he let me pet him even wife and younger kids he liked but me no way. Now little over a month ago he jumped up on my chest nuzzled my face and licked me. Just to show can take alot of time and patience, but here safety of the kids is a concern.
Is the rescue near where can drive to them and talk? Do not give up call,email and if comes to it send a certified letter so know they have it.
Keep us informed on progress both with the dog and the rescue.
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Old 02-08-2008, 03:13 AM
 
Location: Beautiful place in Virginia
2,658 posts, read 10,458,461 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisgirl View Post
Thanks for the advice. We really don't know the details of her prior life. She was only with the foster for a couple of weeks. The foster had a 5 year old daughter, but didn't witness any aggresion at all. There was another dog present.

Training went well yesterday. The trainer said not to worry. It is part of the process.

Today, a different story. I have really tried to have the kids give her some space. Tonight, I was reading the 6 year old her good night story. The lab was laying in the room on the floor. My daughter was petting her on her torso and out of the blue she snapped and caught her in the face. No skin was broken but it did leave a mark and scared us both. Again, totally unprovoked.

I am beginning to think that she is becoming really possesive of me and sees the kids at times as a threat. There was no warning behavior and no inappropriate actions of my daughter. She likes the kids, but loves my husband and I.

I have attempted to contact the rescue organization. I emailed them a couple of weeks ago when it first occurred. I phoned them on Tuesday and emailed and called again tonight. I haven't received any replies.

I am very upset and scared. I don't know what happened before we got her, but I don't know if I can keep her and have my children at risk. Any thoughts?
There are too many episodes in my opinion to sacrifice the safety of your children. A report against the rescue should be generated and this concern should be reported to Petfinders to ban them from posting. They have performed an inadequate assessment of the dog and that is truly an outrage.

When I adopted our pet, I read the profile but spoke to the foster mother and head of the rescue, at length, prior to proceeding. I have a 7 year old and if that were to occur, even now, the dog would have to go.
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Old 02-08-2008, 04:46 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 16,286,116 times
Reputation: 7572
Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisgirl View Post
I have attempted to contact the rescue organization. I emailed them a couple of weeks ago when it first occurred. I phoned them on Tuesday and emailed and called again tonight. I haven't received any replies.

I am very upset and scared. I don't know what happened before we got her, but I don't know if I can keep her and have my children at risk. Any thoughts?
I agree that this is a black mark on the face of rescue as a whole...and all I can do is tell you what will get the most attention the fastest if they refuse to answer and you feel you have done all you can. Before I go off on that, have you tried calling the trainer? Have you had the dog back to the vet?

If it is over for you and this particular rescue, that's okay - not every dog is suited to every home. I am assuming you have a contract that says the rescue will take the dog back in case it doesn't work out...and it's not working out. Do they have a volunteer close to you, maybe the one who did your home visit or helped with transport? Contact that person if you can remember their name. Look on the contract for any email addresses or phone numbers that might possibly be there.

Write them one more time and explain that it is not going to work and they are backing you into a corner, that you will have the dog boarded at their expense at X facility, phone # whatever, until they can make arrangements to pick it up. The dog will be transported to that facility on Monday, February 11th if you have not heard from them by that time and definite plans have been made to move the dog. Most vets aren't going to accept that arrangement, I'll tell you that up front...but I'd bet you will hear from someone pretty quickly. You may hear even faster if you say you're taking the dog to the shelter, but PLEASE DO NOT DO THAT - well, you can SAY you're going to do it, but don't! If you have a friend or relative who does not have children in the home that would be willing to dog-sit until the rescue comes up for air, make haste to get the dog to their home. I will warn you up front that this group, who I am assuming is internet based, is probably not going to work with you on exchanging this dog for another one in their org. Been there, done that.

This dog doesn't belong in this particular home by your account. Do not be made to feel guilty, do not bend over backwards doing voodoo to make it work. If you have taken the normal, common sense, logical approach to integrating this dog into your family and you truly do not believe it will work, then stick to your guns. I don't believe 2 weeks in a foster home is enough time to establish a dog's true personality, and this poor dog has been through a lot of changes in 30 days, at least 3 homes. I do think there is more that can be attempted here, but I also don't have three children at home so I'd just be talking to hear my head rattle on that one. However, I think the rescue is being remiss in not getting back with you with a snapping dog...in the meantime - baby gates. The dog does not need to interact with your children. I'm sorry, but you've tried it several times and there are issues. Please don't continue to push the envelope until you are really sorry.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:33 AM
 
Location: Ohio
2,178 posts, read 8,052,161 times
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I have had dogs all my 61 years of life and what I have experienced with Labs is that they are family oriented, gentle, loving pets. They do have a tendency to be hyper in their younger years but not in a hurtful way. I have a black Lab now that is the most affectionate animal I thnk I have ever had. She is great with my little grandkids and has never shown any type of aggression even when the kids get too rough like small kids tend to do sometimes.
Labs usualy tend to adopt the whole family and not just one person like some other breeds.
It sounds like your dog has had some mistreatment from someone in its life that has caused it to have aggressive tendencies.
I would suggest not keeping the dog. Your young daughter could end up with scars the she could carry for the rest of her life. No dog is worth that. Something has happened to your dog in its life that has promoted a behavior that is not consistant with the good nature that Labs are known for.
Get one that is a pup and raise it. You will fall in love with it and it will love you and your whole family in return.
Don't deprive yourself and your family of the joy of owning a great breed of dog because of one bad one that may have a bad past.
Labs are smart and train good as far as obeying commands, but you can't train out attitudes if the dog has learned or been taught to be aggressive. It might not be the dogs fault. It just might be the fault of previous experiences the dog has had.
Whatever you do, don't try to save a dog that shows unprovoked aggression toward your daughter. Another Lab raised from a pup would protect her instead of trying to harm her.
I have had a lot of different dogs in my life. Labs are the best, in my opinion. Golden Retrievers rank right up there at the top of the list as family pets also.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:55 PM
 
Location: Deep in the Heart of Texas
1,479 posts, read 7,015,654 times
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Many rescue groups are staffed by volunteers, many of whom have full-time paying jobs. However, the lack of response to your calls and emails is unconscionable, particularly given the circumstances! Two or three weeks in a foster home is not enough time to fully evaluate a dog. Many dogs are on their best behavior for the first few weeks in a new environment. Only when they are settled in and comfortable in their new home do negative behavior issues start to show up.

I work in rescue and l can attest that most--not all--dogs can be helped with good training and consistent, long term behavior management. If you want to work through this, you will need an experienced behaviorist who can assess whether this dog is salvageable. Personally, I would not risk it. You have small children, and large dogs' jaws can easily snap bone.

I suggest that you keep the kids and the dog completely separate until you are able to connect with the rescue group and send the dog back to them.

I'm so sorry this happened to you and your children. It sounds to me as if you've done everything right.
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