Dog is suddenly growling at children.
We recently added an APBT to our family. I have had AmStaffs before so I’m used to the breed and it quirks more or less, but this girl is troubling me. I adopted her as an adult about 2 months ago. She is registered and quite beautiful, and has been a model citizen up until these last two weeks.
She knows her basic commands and is very submissive. She is an indoor dog and will not walk outside unless either my wife or myself go first. She is not food aggressive, nor dog aggressive, but has growled at the kids on two separate occasions in the past week and it is worrying me.
The first occasion was last week. Everyone was on the couch and she was invited up as well. My oldest son can be a bit clingy to her at times and tried to hug her, she growled and he backed off.
Needless to say she was kicked off the couch, and all has been well up until last night. She was lying underneath the dining room table and my two year old son got growled at this time. He was being loud and she was cornered more or less.
The table is up against the wall so there was no where for her to go, and she was sitting under the table to be near me. She growled, I called her name, her ears went back and she immediately stood down.
I can explain both of those situations. The first time she just wasn’t in the mood to be hassled by my clingy son, and the second she was cornered. Problem is that I never dealt with this with my AmStaffs. These have been isolated incidents, but I don’t want to ignore warning signs if a problem exists.
It just seems so spontaneous. She seems to love everyone, and the kids would hate to see her have to leave, but I’m not sure why she’s suddenly fed up with the kids.
I’m not really looking for an answer to why, but I am looking for some advice on what to look at. She’s inside all day while we’re at work, and my brother comes by and lets her out during the day to do her business, and she does well with it.
When we come home I immediately take her outside for a game of fetch
My Amstaffs were on the same regimen, and they were fine with it. The kicker is they BOTH had dog aggression, and yet never growled at any person period.
Should I look into some more training? She has had training in the past, (before I got her) should I give her a refresher, or do I just avoid letting similar situations occur? I know it’s never acceptable to let a dog growl at children, but in both cases I can see why it happened.
Whenever a dog that was previously tolerant suddenly begins growling, it's time for a trip to the vet to rule out any possible physical cause. Quite often, the basis for this kind of behavior is an otherwise invisible physical condition that makes body contact painful or unpleasant for the dog. Yet, it's often overlooked.
If you decide to get professional help, you should look for a behaviorist or someone with a background in behavioral training rather than regular obedience. Obedience training is for learning commands. Behavior training is for ironing out the kinks in the human/dog relationship.
You don't say how old your oldest son is. I think it's generally hard for a child to understand why a dog would growl at them for giving the dog a hug.
We humans view hugs as a wonderful, satisfying way to express affection. But, it's not the same with dogs. In the dog world, a paw across the shoulder is a display of dominance and/or aggression.
I would encourage you to work with your son to find out what kind of things your dog DOES like--rubbed under the chin, scratched behind the ears, etc. That way your son can find ways of interacting with her they can both enjoy and will strengthen the bond between them.
The SPCA of Texas offers a free, down-loadable coloring book for kids called Be Bite Free. Check it out and see if you think your son might enjoy it.
Good luck. Feel free to post back here and let us know how things are going.
For more information on obedience training, visit our Pit Bull Training page.
For help with behavioral problems, check out our Dog Behavior Training page.
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