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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

We adopted a puppy two days ago from our local rescue. He is a five-month-old yellow lab mix. He seemed very friendly and easygoing. The rescue people told me that he was very sweet and submissive.

My problem is that he has already snapped at my two-year-old boy three times. All three times they were both within arms reach of me and I yanked them apart. The dog seems to be afraid of my boy and will run away from him. I have not and will not leave them unsupervised together, but I feel that this is a dangerous situation.

My husband says, "Oh, that's typical puppy behavior." I know that teething is normal, but this seems overly aggressive to me. He did not break the skin, but these were not teething nibbles.

My son was trying to pet the dog each time it happened. He hadn't done anything to hurt him, though; nor was he hugging him or pulling on him.

After the first time it happened, I spoke to the vet's office and they told me to have my boy feed him and give him treats, and give the dog more time to get used to him. My son has been giving him treats and toys all day, but still he gets snapped at when he tries to pet him.

I know we haven't had him very long at all, but I am wondering if I should return him to the shelter before we get any more attached to him than we already are, and before anything else happens. I am spooked now and if we do return him we won't be getting another dog.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Teresa
 

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Welcome to the forum!

I just want to say that you've had the puppy for two days. I'm assuming if he had the minimal amount of crap for a puppy in a rescue he is a puppy that went from one home, to a rescue situation, to a brand new home at 5 months old. That's A LOT.

You need to keep your kid away from him right now. He's scared and overwhelmed and kids are scary and overwhelming and add the two together? Scary. He's trying to tell your son that he needs to back off him. The vet is right- IN TIME. Right now he needs to absolutely stay away from the puppy all together which is easier said than done.

I obviously can't see the dog, but I'm assuming he needs time to adjust. Did the rescue say he had been around children before? I would not forget about dogs entirely because of one experience. There are TONS of dogs in rescue that are just fine with kids. I have two bomb proof dogs that were rescues. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you! The rescue does attempt to socialize the dogs and they said that he's been fine with kids. He also gets along fine with my six-year-old.

I know it has only been two days, but I don't know whether this is a behavior that will actually go away once he becomes more comfortable, or if it's a personality trait. How long does it take before you know?

This breaks my heart because he is otherwise a perfect dog. He adores the rest of us, walks nicely on a leash, loves to be petted, hasn't had any potty accidents, is friendly with strangers (the few we've met so far), does not seem nervous at all, and is generally very laid-back and sweet - except around my son.

My daughter will be devastated if we have to return him, but I'm sure the longer we keep him the harder it will be for her.

I probably wouldn't give up on dogs altogether, but I would wait until my son is a lot older before trying again.
 

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I wonder if perhaps he has never been around a child so small. I have a dog that is aggressive towards YOUNG kids, like toddler age. She is fine with kids that are older or just taller for their age. Our puppy is good with kids, but he gets skittish with very young ones approaching him. If they come directly for a pet he will balk and jump backwards.

As for how long, it really depends. Some dogs are immediately comfortable, others take a while. There is no hard and fast time table. I am hesitant to tell you to absolutely keep this dog but I would at least give him two weeks or so to see if he comes around. If not, I would take him back before he's out of the "more" adoptable age and definitely talk to them about an older dog or a dog that has definitely lived with small children. Kids and dogs can be a really hard thing to mix.
 

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You have gotten some really good advice.

I would suggest waiting 2 weeks. It takes that time (at least) for a puppy to start feeling comfortable. Because he is still young, you absolutely have a chance of a happy future together. Give him some time. Keep them seperated for now, and when the puppy is calm and relaxed reintroduce your son. Don't have him move too fast or try to touch the puppy yet. Just being in the same room together helps. It would also be good if your puppy could see and experience your sons day to day life from a safe confined space. Maybe you can gate off the kitchen so the puppy can still see but won't be interrupting meal time.

Reach out to your rescue. Explain that you are apprehensive but you want to wait until he gets adjusted to decide if he is a good fit. Many rescues have lots of training and behavior resources that will work with you for free or a nominal fee.

Don't feel bad if it doesn't work out. Not every dog is meant for every family and by being honest with yourself and your limitations you are giving this puppy a chance at a better life.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you both so much for the advice! I guess we will give it a little more time and see if things get better. I hate to give up on him, but I'm worried for my son.
 

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It's definitely a difficult situation. Just remember you know your own limits. If he doesn't come around, then it is possible he just might be better off in a home with older children which is true for a lot of dogs.
 

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When we got our dog zoey, she was kind of snappy/bitey with my youngest child. We did work on letting him give her treats, set her food dish down, helping walk her (though your son is too young for that:) btu what we also had to do is make sure her snapping didnt mean my son started running around and yelling, bc that just doesnt help at all!! and that every time, and I mean EVERY TIME she snapped/bit at him, she was taken to a time out spot, for us that was in the kitchen, alone, for about a minute. Since she loved being around us, this taught her that snapping at Brennan meant no one else to play with. If we were someplace that we couldnt do that, everyone would turn their backs to her for a minute,so she got no attention.
You have to be patient and persistent, this isnt something that will get better in a day or two.
But eventually she got it, and now they are best buddies.

Although now she steals his food from him, so we are working on that problem:) I think its just bc he is lower to the ground than the rest of us.
 

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Did your son meet the dog before you brought it home? This is very important, especially for a child so young. Dog's can be easily overwhelmed by small children. Combine that with all the stress of moving between homes. I agree with the others that in time the dog will calm down and accept your son. Especially a dog so young, it will be much more adaptable.
 

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1. This is normal Lab behavior... unless he is growling. Lab pups can be rude, unless you push back and teach them manners... which is fairly easy to do.
2. You can never leave a toddler alone with a dog or a puppy, because both can very easily injure the other. They can pat dogs and thump them, because they don't know that dogs don't like it. And be careful with the 6 yo.
3. To Stop the biting, teach the pup Bite Inhibition: See the Sticky: The Bite Stops Here.
Tweaks to The Bite Stops Here:
1. When the pup bites, then yelp. It should sound about like what the pup does when you step on its paw...
don't step on her paw for a sample :). When you yelp, the pup should startle briefly and stop nipping. Praise and pet. he'll bite.
2. When he bites the second time, Yelp. When he stops, praise and pet. he'll nip again, although it may be a little gentler. ...
3. When he bites a third time, Yelp (see a pattern?). But this time, turn your back for 15 - 30 secs. If he comes around and play bows or barks, then that is an apology. Accept it, praise and pet... and cringe in expectation of the next nip... [Accepting the apology is important]
4. When he bites the 4th time, Yelp, then leave the area, placing him in a 2 min. time-out. It is better if you can leave, rather than moving him. Then, return and interact. (he's still hungry...)
5. When he nips the fifth time, yelp, and leave the area, stopping interaction for now.

Pups need to sleep over night in order to learn their lessons. So, keep doing this for 3 days. You have to do this to get it under control, then have everyone else yelp after he understands. By the third day, you should notice significant Bite Inhibition. he may still nip, but it will be softer and he won't draw blood. You don't want your toddler to yelp, because it may excite the pup, until you've trained the pup for 3 - 5 days. Then, Keep up the training and make sure that everyone yelps.... Very powerful method. Follow these steps carefully and don't expect a 3 day miracle, just increasing control and less biting... And, yes... if he only bites at the toddler, you can yelp for the toddler, acting as a single unit.

If you learn the technique, then you can apply the "yelp" to other circumstances, also. I believe that "yelp" is "Please don't do that, I don't like it." in dog communication.
 
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