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Kids And Bones


Guest Ilovemydog
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Guest Ilovemydog

When Mickey is eating a bone, I can walk up to him, touch him, take the bone and he doesn't make a fuss at all, except to look pleadingly at me till I give it back :) If my kids go near him when he's eating his bone, he growls at them. Now I consider this perfectly normal behaviour, I'm the head of the pack and can do what I want, the kids are litter mates and he'll guard his treat. I've told the kids not to go near him when he's eating and they're very good about it.

 

However, I was told by a well-meaning friend that Mickey should be subservient to all humans in the house and I should train him to give up food to any member of the family.

 

I have to say that this seems like a load of rubbish to me, he shows no aggression at all to anyone and I don't think it's too much to ask that he's allowed to eat in peace. What do you all think?

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Personally, I think I would work on teaching him to trade up with everyone in the house, and then still not allow the kids to bother him when he's eating. If he learns that having humans around his food is no big deal, it will lower his stress levels. And it will help protect the human in the case a situation arises where he might otherwise feel like he needs to protect his food (someone stumbles near him, kids coming running through, etc.). I just generally think that the more the dog LIKES having someone near his food, the better.

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My blog about helping Katie learn to be a more normal dog: http://katies-journey-philospher77.blogspot.com/

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I have no opinions about everyone being able to take something from your dog, but if you are going to work on this with your children, I would have them practice trading up with him. They give him something better than what he already has. Batmom, I think, has a good tutorial for trading up.

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Cindy with Miss Fancypants, Paris Bueller, Zeke, and Angus 
Dante (Dg's Boyd), Zoe (In a While), Brady (Devilish Effect), Goose (BG Shotgun), Maverick (BG ShoMe), Maggie (All Trades Jax), Sherman (LNB Herman Bad) and Indy (BYB whippet) forever in my heart
The flame that burns the brightest, burns the fastest and leaves the biggest shadow

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Guest Lisa_S

Since I'm so new I can only offer what we're trying. We've had our Grey for a full week (so no time at all!). We decided from the beginning that the dog needs to learn to listen to the kids not just me or hubby. For our kids, it's helps them feel empowered about a large animal and knowing how to take care of her while hopefully she learns to respect them. If the 14 year old is going to help me by taking KJ on a potty run, then KJ needs to know that the kid's in charge.

I must say I respect both sides. I just know my own kids needs, and some kids are perfectly happy to not be in charge at all! :)

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You do not want your dog to see your kids as littermates. Your dog should think of EVERY human as someone to respect. That doesn't mean I would let the kids take bones away from him, but I wouldn't have the mindset that he should respect them any less than you.

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How old are your kids? Although I "do" think that any dog should respect all human family members - if your kids are young - they probably shouldn't be messing with the dog with a bone at all. But - the other side of me thinks that the dog should learn to respect them - but kids are kids - so it's hard sometimes to teach a dog to respect a kid that's just goofing around.

 

If the kids are under .... 9? Don't mess with the dog's bone. If they're older - and able to be an active part of training - train them and the dog, IMHO.

 

It's all a bit squishy, though. Each kid, each dog, each home is SO different - that you have to find what makes sense for you.

 

As far as "subservient to all humans" well.... that depends. If it's obvious to Mickey that the kids need a warning - and he gives it - I don't think that's a bad thing at all. He's NOT comfortable with the kids messing with him when he has his bone. A growl is a GOOD thing - that's him expressing his feelings - and it should DEFINATELY be honored. As long as your kids listen and KNOW a growl means back off - it should be fine.

 

If you want to change the behavior - there are things that you can do. But - if you're cool with your kids being told "STAY BACK" by Mickey - and they'll listen to him - that's NOT a bad situation, IMHO.

 

A LOT of people will disagree with this.

 

I had a seriously space-aggressive, food-aggressive, sleep-aggressive grey. My Sobe. He was eventually fine in our house, with LOTS of training. He was fine with my DD - who was 8 when we got him, but it took a LOT of training DD training Sobe to make sure they were OK together. She was mature enough to do work with him every day to get him OK. But - any visiting children to my house - there was a SOLID no touch - no approach when lying down policy. No other children were ever allowed to mess with Sobe when he was sleeping or on his bed. He would've probably been fine after he got older - but frankly - his space is his space - and no little kid needs to invade it.

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Great advice from everyone. If it were my dog, I'd work on trading up with every member of the household. Just in case he'd get ahold of something dangerous/toxic, you'd want the closest person to be able to ask for a "leave it" or "drop it." Trading up is also a good exercise in bonding, not from the "dog should be subservient" standpoint, but one of mutual respect.

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When Mickey is eating a bone, I can walk up to him, touch him, take the bone and he doesn't make a fuss at all, except to look pleadingly at me till I give it back :) If my kids go near him when he's eating his bone, he growls at them. Now I consider this perfectly normal behaviour, I'm the head of the pack and can do what I want, the kids are litter mates and he'll guard his treat. I've told the kids not to go near him when he's eating and they're very good about it.

 

However, I was told by a well-meaning friend that Mickey should be subservient to all humans in the house and I should train him to give up food to any member of the family.

 

I have to say that this seems like a load of rubbish to me, he shows no aggression at all to anyone and I don't think it's too much to ask that he's allowed to eat in peace. What do you all think?

Yes, the subservient bit is a load of rubbish based on old-fashioned, since dis-proven dominance/alpha theory. It also doesn't cease to amaze me that we think our dogs should just tolerate our taking things away (not talking about you, but people in general). First of all, that's not how it works in the dog world. In the dog world, if I have it, it's mine and I can tell you to back off if I think you might try to take it. Second, what would you do if every time you sat down with your bowl of ice cream or glass of wine someone grabbed it out of your hands. After a few times, as that person started to approach, you'd get up and move, or use your body to protect the bowl or glass so he couldn't take it, or you'd just tell him to stop it! That's all dogs are doing, in the language that they use.

 

Anyway (I digress :blah:blush), as others have said, for the safety of people in your home and the stress levels of your dog, I do think teaching him a "trade" cue is a great idea. If nothing else, when you do take things away, please give him something in return so you're at least rewarding him for his already good behavior.

 

Trade is really easy to teach too. Here's how it goes:

 

First, it's a 2 handed exercise. Left hand is used to give and take the high value item (use something the dog will keep his interest in, but not super high value to start). Right hand is used to feed the rewards. Defrosted frozen meatballs are nice for this because you're going to feed continuously for a period of time at first so you can just hold one meatball and let the dog nibble away at it.

 

So...

1. Say "take it" and give the dog the high value item from your left hand (a cow foot or kong stuffed with spray cheese or PB usually works nicely)

2. With treats hidden, say "trade"

3. Pause momentarily, then hold out your right hand with the treats (if you suspect he may guard, you can start by dropping a trail of treats on the floor rather than putting your hand right up to his face)

4. When he drops the kong to get the treats, immediately click or say "yes" or "good dog" and start feeding from teh right hand. As you feed, move your right hand away if you need to to keep him occupied and away from the kong. As you do this, pick up the kong with your left hand.

5. Stop feeding and immediately say "take it" and give the dog the kong back with your left hand.

 

You'll do that a number of times and when you think he's starting to get it, you can say "trade" and then wait to see if he drops the item before you offer the food. If he does, click (or "yes!" or "good dog") and then start feeding from the right hand.

 

End each session by letting him have the kong until he's done with it.

 

Make sense? The idea here is that not only does he learn that when he gives something up, he gets rewarded, but he also gets the item back. The only exception would be when he picks up something dangerous, but the fact that you've practiced this and he's gotten the item back over and over and over means that those rare occasions shouldn't matter.

 

Do this a lot with teh adults first until he really has the cue down before practicing with any of the kids.

Edited by NeylasMom

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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