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Help With Aggression Toward Five Year Old


Guest makaylan
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Guest makaylan

On June 10th, I adopted a sweet female grey named Lois. At first she was fine with everyone in my family which includes my grandparents, parents, and four sisters ages 16,11, and 5. But as time has passed, she has started to snarl and bark every time my smallest sister gets near her. The first few days, I didn't hear a bark or a snarl and now it was three separate times today.

 

I am really confused with what to do because some posters say that being aggressive toward my grey could cause her to be more aggressive toward my sister. I really don't want anything to happen to my sister and it hurts her feelings when she is just trying to be sweet and Lois freaks out. Do you think this behavior can be fixed or will it continue? If need be, I have until Tuesday to take her back to the retired racing home that I got her from for my sister's safety. What should I do?

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What is your sister doing? When is she being growled and snapped at? If Lois on her bed/ in her crate/ lying down? Is she asleep? Is your sister getting in her face, being rough with her, poking her, pinching her, even accidentally?

 

Lois isn't doing this out of nothing. Something is happening with the interaction.

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Guest makaylan

Sometimes it happens when she is just walking toward her, sometimes she is just sitting on the floor petting her like everyone else does. After the first time it happened, I told my sister that Lois has boundaries and she had made her uncomfortable and she completely understood. The first time it happened Lois was laying on her bed and Emily went to pet her, which is something she had been fine with before and she snarled. Today she was sitting in my lap on the recliner and Emily (my sister) walked up, not even trying to pet and she snarled. One time Emily walked in the room and Lois snarled. Emily hasn't been rough with her at all. She has been around other dogs and understands that you can't be rough. Today, she was also sitting with my boyfriend and they were both petting her, he got up and then Lois snarled at her. She had just continued doing what she was, just petting her. She also snarled at me today because I was petting her and looked away.

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First rule is no petting the dog unless she's standing up and conscious. For anyone.

 

Second, no furniture privileges.

 

Third, no interactions between the two of them until you've worked this out.

 

I suspect, though I'm not an expert, that Lois sees your sister as a threat for whatever reason. It may be nothing to do with your sister, but allowing your sister to touch Lois while she was on her bed is really not a good idea.

 

For the snarling while on the recliner, it sounds like resource guarding.

 

Snarling at you while you were patting her? It's won't be because you looked away. But mine bare their teeth in a smile while looks like a snarl and make some very weird vocalisations.

 

Hopefully some others will come along soon with some other suggestions.

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Your adoption coordinator needs to be advised of this now. He or she should be working with all members of the family in this situation for the protection of your family and your hound.

 

Snarling or growling is a warning that the hound is not comfortable with whatever the person is doing. Brandiandwe's response is correct. Your hound is not comfortable with being petted or having someone too close. This is normal greyhound behavior, and the dog is doing her a favor by warning her.You have a dog that has lived in a home for a grand total of about 9 days. She doesn't know what is expected of her yet, but she has always had her own space and is not used to having that space encroached upon. Many hounds sleep with their eyes open, and will startle if petted or touched while sleeping. Often in a startle situation, a bite can occur.

 

All members of your family as well as all visitors need to make sure that the hound is awake and willing to be petted before just reaching down and petting. We have lived with a hound for over 5 years who startles in his sleep. Making sure that the hound is awake and STANDING - not lying or sitting, before petting is the easiest way to avoid an incident. Further, the hound should not be allowed on the furniture at this point, as she will guard her space, Furniture privileges can come later, or not.

 

In our house, we only pet when he is standing, and we call his name before approaching if he in on a bed. We never pet when he is on his bed. He could easily appear to be awake, but in fact be asleep. Following those rules without exception will go a long way in avoiding a potential incident.

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Guest makaylan

Lois is a very lazy dog and she spends 90% of the time laying down. She rolls over for belly rubs and that is just about the extent of her moving about in the house, so will she eventually just get up when she wants to be touched? I am definitely going to start keeping her off of the furniture and not allow Emily to touch Lois. Today she definitely snarled when I turned away. She doesn't make any noise unless she is snarling at someone, so far it has only been myself and Emily. Should I muzzle Lois after she snarls or barks or should i put her by herself in another room so she will understand if she does it again? When I go out in public should I always keep a muzzle on her because of kids coming around?

 

I don't mean to sound clueless, I read a lot about the habits and behaviors of greyhounds and I feel pretty prepared, but after the first few days with Lois I thought everything would be fine! I just need to fix this as soon as possible because it upsets my parents and I don't want my sister to get hurt because I wanted to adopt Lois.

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When your turned away from Lois, you might have jolted her or moved her. She may have been falling asleep and been startled.

 

Most of this is workable but you need to follow the rules. If Lois is lying down, for now, no touching. She'll come to you. No furniture.

 

It might not be forever, but it might be. This is what greyhounds are.

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When your turned away from Lois, you might have jolted her or moved her. She may have been falling asleep and been startled.

 

Most of this is workable but you need to follow the rules. If Lois is lying down, for now, no touching. She'll come to you. No furniture.

 

It might not be forever, but it might be. This is what greyhounds are.

 

This. Right now, you and the hound are making huge adjustments. neither of you know what to expect, So you have to take it a day at a time.

 

Our boy Rocket loves belly rubs, but he also "zones out" when you rub his belly, then will growl and sometimes lunge because he is so zoned out, that he startles during the belly rub. After 5 years, i rarely rub his belly unless i know he is awake and playing.

 

It is too early in your relationship with your new girl to just assume she will behave like every other dog. Greyhounds are unique, mostly because of the way they've lived and been trained in their racing careers. Now they have to learn how to be a pet, just like you have to learn to be a greyhound owner. It does get easier, and the dog you have today will be completely different a year from now. You will be able to watch her learn new things in the coming months. and realize how little of the outside world your hound has experienced up until now as you watch her reaction to things we all take for granted. Rocket was fascinated with birds, planes, trucks and motorcycles. Still is after 5 years. It;s still fun to see his reaction to things.

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Lois is a very lazy dog and she spends 90% of the time laying down. She rolls over for belly rubs and that is just about the extent of her moving about in the house, so will she eventually just get up when she wants to be touched? I am definitely going to start keeping her off of the furniture and not allow Emily to touch Lois. Today she definitely snarled when I turned away. She doesn't make any noise unless she is snarling at someone, so far it has only been myself and Emily. Should I muzzle Lois after she snarls or barks or should i put her by herself in another room so she will understand if she does it again? When I go out in public should I always keep a muzzle on her because of kids coming around?

 

I don't mean to sound clueless, I read a lot about the habits and behaviors of greyhounds and I feel pretty prepared, but after the first few days with Lois I thought everything would be fine! I just need to fix this as soon as possible because it upsets my parents and I don't want my sister to get hurt because I wanted to adopt Lois.

 

Basically, the answer to your question is 'yes'. Eventually she will get up and want to be touched. She is probably keeping to her bed right now because she has always been able to regard her bed as a safe place. Some greyhounds 'roach' - which is to say they roll over and sleep on their backs just because it's relaxing - and it doesn't necessarily mean an invitation to belly rub.

 

Have you read the Kathleen Gilley 'No Fear, No Pain' lecture? Some people disagree a little bit with her training methods, but her description of being adopted from the ex-racing greyhound's point of view is spot on. It can make interesting reading in these situations because suddenly you will understand why your new dog is doing so many 'inexplicable' things. You can find a short form of it here. Do read it, because it can be very helpful to new adopters.

 

I adopted my first greyhound in 1994, and we're now on our sixth dog. I also volunteer with the local adoption kennel. I will tell you how it goes in our house when a new dog is adopted.

 

When I bring my new dog into the house, I have everything ready for him/her so there's no bustling about with last minute preparations. They will already have been introduced to our existing dog (I usually keep a pair!) so I just bring them in and let them wander about, exploring, finding a toy (if so inclined) and a bed while I make a cup of tea and just watch them and gently redirect them if they do something 'wrong'.

 

Over the next few days and weeks I work on gaining their trust. This is a vital step, because it forms the basis of their future relationship with me. If I have a 'growler' (I've had two) I give them as much space as possible and make no demands until they're ready, other than this: I touch them lightly in passing for a moment only - usually a quick light hand on the shoulder - whenever possible, but always, always when they are standing or walking and always when they know I am there, and I always speak to them softly while doing so. I give the same light, quick touch when I feed them anything; when I put the food bowl down, and when I give a treat etc I hold onto it after they take hold for just a second or two before I let them have it. I talk to them often in a low, cheerful voice. I keep the 'No's and the 'Uh-uh's for things I really don't want them to do.

 

Children should be kept well away from the dog during this period. The ONLY interaction they have should be supervised closely with a parent constantly right there by the child's side, and watching the dog's body language extremely carefully. Also with the dog awake and willing. These interactions should be kept short. And by short, I mean less than a minute or two. The child - of whatever age - should never be allowed to touch or approach the dog on his/her bed. Many dogs will be absolutely fine with this at a later stage, but really, not at first. It would take an exceptional greyhound to be fine with children on his/her bed in the early days, whereas many will be fine eventually, just not at first. :)

 

A great book for safe dog/child interactions is 'Living With Kids & Dogs (Without Losing Your Mind)' by Colleen Pelar Do read it if you can get hold of a copy. It has some invaluable insights and advice. I have a copy myself, because we have year old twin grand-daughters.

 

 

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Do you have a picture of the snarl? My boy Noah smiles and if I didn't know what a smile was, I would think he was snarling. He doesn't vocalize, but some dogs do...he also plays a bit rough due to being a puppy.

 

Also, if it is snarling, as another poster suggested it sounds like resource guarding/threat, so you should have an experienced greyhound person in the house ASAP.

 

When I first adopted Zelda she would growl when I laid my feet on her while she was laying down...with some training, I can now touch her while she is laying down and she actually cuddles some of the time...but that took a year or so before she was ready for that. She prefers to get attention while standing and I'm fine with that...the other 2 actually will paw at me to cuddle with them when I stop petting them. Zelda is my heart dog...she taught me about semi spooky pups which was a huge advantage for when Marble came along. Marble is very timid/nervous, not as bad as some of the hounds, but bad enough. Even now she thinks I'm going to adopt her out (she was a foster failure) and it's been a year...so I have to tell her she is mine and not going anywhere when a foster is here otherwise I can't get near her.

 

Good luck!

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I agree with everything the others have said. Just wanted to mention that some greys (mine included) aren't comfortable with little kids. They're closer to the dog's eye level, which can be intimidating for the dog. Also, kids are usually louder, more spastic, and have less control of their voice level and body movements. It's not inconceivable that Lois allows petting and belly rubs from the older people in the house, but not the small child. Most times, this apprehension can be remedied with positive reinforcement and counter conditioning, but you have to go veeeery slowly without pushing the dog too far out of their comfort zone.

 

P.S. Never use the muzzle as a punishment. If you're worried about a bite, have her wear the muzzle on a regular basis. Muzzles are tools to help us (and the greyhound) achieve a certain level of safety. When you only use them as a punishment, you create an aversion, and the dog will start to hate it.

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Guest makaylan

Thanks a lot for all the input! I am going to call the shelter and see what they say about it and I am setting boundaries that everyone in the house will have to follow.

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I agree with everything the others have said. Just wanted to mention that some greys (mine included) aren't comfortable with little kids. They're closer to the dog's eye level, which can be intimidating for the dog. Also, kids are usually louder, more spastic, and have less control of their voice level and body movements. It's not inconceivable that Lois allows petting and belly rubs from the older people in the house, but not the small child. Most times, this apprehension can be remedied with positive reinforcement and counter conditioning, but you have to go veeeery slowly without pushing the dog too far out of their comfort zone.

 

 

:nod. Jeffie is terrified of children.

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Thanks a lot for all the input! I am going to call the shelter and see what they say about it and I am setting boundaries that everyone in the house will have to follow.

 

A shelter??

Lois came from a shelter???

Did you not adopt Lois from a reputable Greyhound Adoption group?

 

Please .... please .... follow all the advice/rules that have been laid out above!!!!

 

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On her feet and looking for love before being petted, kept off the furniture, people kept away from her bed when she's in it = usually safe for everybody with most dogs.

 

I can understand your little sister's feelings. Maybe you can explain to her that your new dog has never hung around with anybody her size before and it might take some time before the dog isn't frightened of her. Dogs aren't as smart as people so you can't really explain things and expect them to understand like your sister can (wink wink nudge nudge) -- they kinda have to learn at their own pace, and the first part of that is to watch from a distance. There'll be lots of time for petting and lovin's once the dog learns. (Many greyhounds *do* get to hang around smaller people on the farms where they grow up and in the racing kennel, but some don't.)

 

 

ETA: When I have a dog who's OK but not totally trustworthy with the little ones, I gently control the dog's head and deliver some nice ear noogies or nose rubs (depending on preference) and teach the kids to gently stroke the dog's neck and shoulder.

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Guest makaylan

Lois didn't come from a shelter, it was a retired racing home in NC called Project Racing Home. I didn't mean to use the wrong term for the place... Today I have heard no growling since I told everyone about staying away from her bed and only petting her when she is up. Emily accompanied Lois and I while we walked around and Lois was super loving and didn't have any problem with being pet by her, so I guess it was more of just territorial growling. Thanks so much for the advice, it has already helped!

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Makaylan, in your first post you said: "If need be, I have until Tuesday to take her back to the retired racing home that I got her from for my sister's safety."

 

Did they really put a time limit on when you could return her?

 

You've gotten a lot of good advice here. Please also inform your adoption group of issues, improvements, or lack of.

 

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That's good news! Keep it up, and you'll do fine.

Just don't relax too soon, and let her fail. Keep praising her for good behaviour, and carry on keeping everyone away from her bed. In time she may come to accept petting on her bed, but i really wouldn't try it for a good long time - and even then it should be a competent and dog-savvy adult who knows how to read dog body language, not a child. :)

Oh, and just a little bit of extra advice for safety: remember that dogs don't do 'hugging' and they don't appreciate having someone stare into their eyes. One of the most common causes for bitten faces in children is that they - being human - love to wrap their arms round a dog's neck and stare into their eyes. Dogs can interpret this as a threat and react accordingly.

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I don't have anything to add in terms of suggestions - I just wanted to say I met Lois while volunteering and she was a hoot! Little girl packed full of character. I hope you can apply what others have suggested and work through the problems - my bridge girl Dusty didn't like to share her bed and didn't want us near it. We gave her space and didn't bother her when she was laying down. She was a total love bug and came over for affection regularly! Anyway, eventually she realized she didn't have to growl if we patted her while she was laying down, and she learned to love belly rubs! Give Lois time and patience and plenty of positive reinforcement for the good things. :)

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I am going to be the one person who says yes, you should take her back.

 

If you're living at home with your parents and several younger siblings, I'm guessing you're pretty young yourself.

 

Unless EVERYONE in the home is on the same page, this dog is NOT the right dog. And clearly a 5 year old simply does not have the capacity to be on the same page in terms of boundries, etc. Children want a dog they can hug and play with. Many Greyhounds love kids, but some don't. Clearly this dog does not. It's a disaster waiting to happen.

 

Don't worry about the dog. They'll find a home that doesn't have little children in it, hopefully with an experienced Greyhound owner, and she'll be happier.


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Just wondering - are you sure she is snarling? I know it sounds crazy, but my greyhound has a smile that looks like he is ready to rip your arm off.

 

Lots of dogs are scared of small children. You have to be really diligent if you want to keep them together. And the 5 year old needs as much, if not more, training than the greyhound.

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I've been doing adoptions for 11+ years and 99.99% of the time when someone tells me that the dog is growling or snapping at kids it's because 1. the dog is on furniture and/or 2. kids are petting the dog while it's laying down.

 

The Kathleen Gilley article is an excellent one. I'd make the house rule that no one pets her while she's laying down, no matter how cute looks. It's easier if everyone has the same rule to follow. If you want to pet the dog, call her over to you and do it while she's standing up. I'd also revoke furniture privileges. I would have your sister walk you with her and give her treats.

 

She may become a dog who's OK being petted on her bed or while she's laying down, or she may not. Your family needs to decide if it's OK if she isn't and if everyone is on the same page in working with her.

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Guest k9soul

In my experience children tend to give more direct eye contact, and that coupled with being more at eye level with dogs makes some of them uneasy or feel threatened. My boy was returned from his previous home due to growling at a visiting young child at a Christmas party. He adores people and loves being touched when he is standing, and he regularly seeks out lots of contact with people, but once he is lying down and ready to settle he is nervous if someone looms over him or tries to disturb him. I would second talking with the group you got the dog from and discussing what is going on.

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Guest Bean_Scotch

"Aggression" in dogs is a subject that I've delt with a lot, especially surrounding adoption groups and 99.99999% have no idea what they're talking about surrounding this specific behavior problem. A lot of them give up way to quickly. Let's see...I fostered 2 that where labeled un-fixable, actually make that 3. I fostered at least 10 more over the years that had a bite or something under their belt. All got good homes, with some basic obedience training and some boundaries for the kid. How would you like it if someone game inches from your face in the middle of the night? So, teaching children to respect the dogs space and then teaching the dog that he has his own space is the basic foundation to fixing your problem. If you're unsure, please get a positive reinforcement training involved that has experience with greys. They are quite fixable and this is a very easy behavior to fix.

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