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Snapping At My Kids

Guest cheltzey

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Guest cheltzey

We've had Lando for a month and a half now, and he's been a perfect gem. We adore him, and he's a love bug. However, we've had a few instances lately that are starting to concern me. He's recently grown attached to a stuffed bunny, and becomes snappish if one of the kids comes near him while he's holding the bunny. I've warned the kids to never try to take the bunny away from him, and they've been good about respecting that. However, my four-year-old daughter tried to pick up her pillow that was lying on the floor next to Lando. He was holding his bunny, and he snapped at her and got her on the arm. There's not a mark, but I'm afraid that there might be next time. I'm certainly not considering returning the dog, but I need suggestions on managing this behavior. Every time this has happened, I've taken the bunny away from him and given a reprimand. He has never snapped at me when I've taken the bunny. I have told the kids never to try to take ANYTHING from him, especially when he's laying down, but I also would like to work on his behavior. I'm not blaming the dog; I understand that having possessions is new and that he doesn't see the kids as an authority figure like I am. I know that the kids and dogs need to be supervised at all times, but this has happened under supervision.


So here are my questions:

1. Should I just permanently get rid of the bunny until I can trust him? I hate to do that, because he's just figuring out how to "play," but I'm certainly willing if it would help the situation.

2. Any techniques to get him comfortable with people taking things of his? I've heard of "trading up," but I'm not quite sure what that is or how to do it.

3. Any other suggestions for modifying this behavior?


FYI: He has never shown any sign of sleep aggression, or any other type of aggression.

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Guest SusanP

Trading up is giving a treat of some kind as you take away the toy. We have used this with Spinner when we want to get a rawhide that is getting too small away from him as he's enjoying it. Some folks feel trading up is too lenient--ie that the dog should give up whatever to the human without bribes, but I feel it's respectful, practical, and effective to trade up when necessary. My gut feeling is that simply grabbing stuff away from a dog will make the dog more distrustful and protective of what he has.


It's possible that as your pup relaxes and realizes no one is out to steal his toys he may simmer down. A lot of our hounds had objectionable behavior early on that seemed to be related to learning to trust our family, and it took months for them to develop real trust. But that may not be the case with your dog--I'm speaking based on my experience with our 5 hounds. You could allow him to play with the bunny only at times when you are supervising or the kids are not around, or carry it during walks, etc... Of course, he may transfer his obsession with the bunny to other items (hopefully not your dd's pillow, for example!)


That said, I'm not of the "alpha theory" school of dog rearing--we find that with gentle, respectful, fair and helpful treatment, our dogs become very well-behaved in return. But other folks here will have a different view of things--NILF is popular with dogs that act a bit too assertive, for example. And depending on the dog, those techniques may well work better than mine. I know some folks swear by them. You could also consult a local dog trainer or behaviorist, but even among those folks, approaches and philosophies can vary widely.


Make sure your children understand Lando's issues and avoid getting near him when he's got a high-value item. You can work on developing the child dog relationships by having the kids give treats or assist you with walks, etc.


I'm sure many folks on here will have more ideas.

Edited by SusanP
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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I think what Susan said is very sound advise. The only thing I would add is that I personally wouldnt allow the your boy to have the bunny inside the house. I would make that a toy that he gets outside and gets to play with outside, not inside. I think that a stronger trust needs to be established with your hound as well as a basic obedience class wouldnt hurt either.



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I'd probably take away the bunny for the time being, too, and try substituting a less interesting toy -- maybe one of the canvas "fat cat" brand toys that doesn't squeek as readily.


Trading up can be used to teach a good "drop it!" Basically, goes like this:


1 - "Give" the dog something you know he doesn't care much about (old toy, washcloth, sock). If he won't take it, just set it down between his front legs. You have a pocketful of scrumptious treats but you aren't waving them around at this point.

2 - Give your command ("Drop it!" or whatever).

3 - Pick up the object, very cheerful "Good boy!", give absolutely scrumptious treat that you don't use for anything else, and give the object right back.

4 - Repeat 5-6 times, 2-3 times a day with undesirable objects. Do this for @ 3 days.

5 - Now see if there's an object that he shows mild interest in -- maybe enough to take it from you -- but still isn't glued to. Repeat steps above.

6 - Next is an object that he'll hold in his mouth for a couple seconds so you can actually get him to drop it or leave it. Repeat repeat.

7 - Next is an object that he really does like and isn't terribly eager to give up. Repeat repeat until absolutely no resistance.


With a bit of work, most dogs learn pretty well that when you tell him to drop it, he's going to get THE best treat, AND he's going to get his object back again! 'Course there will be times when you don't give the object back, but with your good management those times will be few and far between.




Second thing you could do is, if he's the only dog in your home, save out 1/4 - 1/2 cup of his daily kibble. That kibble will be used for the sole purpose of just kinda casually dropping some kibble every time your child walks by him. You'll have to be the manager of this -- you may want to walk by with them, and you'll have to judge whether he's snoozing and liable to be startled, etc. Don't stop and talk to him, make eye contact, or anything else, just you and child walk by and some kibble magically appears on the floor.


Hugs and best luck with your pup.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Guest tinams8

Another idea to help Lando realize your kids are not puppies who need correction... if you feel that it can be done safely.


Have your daughter be the one to put his dinner bowl down for him. Have her hold it for a minute first so he notices that it's her. If he knows how to sit or lie down, have her tell him sit first.

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