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Discussion Starter #1
I have a rescue named Lola, part hound, part something, maybe springer spaniel, maybe border collie. We've had her for a year and a half. The vet estimates her to be around 5 or 6. She is well behaved, quiet and affectionate with me and my husband. She gets along fairly well with our beagle Flash and most other dogs (although the first few weeks were not pleasant as her and Flash sorted out their standing).
Her issue is with my 11 year old daughter. She seems very nervous when my daughter is around. Some of the time she will accept petting but usually when my daughter approaches her, she growls. If they are both sitting on the couch and my daughter moves, this can trigger Lola to growl and snap at her. My daughter is not afraid of her, thank goodness, and will discipline her and Lola will respond submissively. My daughter walks her, feeds her, is affectionate with her (but not too affectionate) and also corrects her when she does something wrong, but no matter what, Lola will almost always growl at her approach or snap at her if she moves or steps over her. She is also growly with my niece, about the same age. Adults don't seem to phase her the same way.
We have tried every kind of correction, repetitive behaviour, positive reinforcement we can think of/have read about.
I'm willing to entertain just about any suggestion. As it sits now, I don't fully trust Lola. I know it's nervousness not full aggression and I'd like to think it can be corrected....perhaps I'm wrong.....
 

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Do you know her past history by chance? I'm wondering if maybe she was mistreated by kids at some point in her history.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Unfortunately no. She was picked up as a stray in November of 2010 (post hunting season). We adopted her from the shelter in January 2011. It's certainly possible that she was mistreated - she was extremely timid with us when we got her but has really come out of her shell and aside from this major hiccup, is a lovely dog.
 

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My dog, who I've had since she was a wee puppy, has never been around kids much. She was always on edge around them, nervous and sometimes she'd show her teeth. I asked a friend who has two small kids (4 and 6 years old) and who knows my dog well if she would help me. She brought her kids over and had them sit on the floor playing. We allowed my dog to check them out, sniff and explore them while they played with each other and ignored her. We did this a few times and the dog slowly decided that kids were okay. Then we progressed to letting the kids play with the dog (the only rule: the dog has to come to them - never chase or follow the dog.) My dog now thinks that kids are THE GREATEST THING EVER and wants to lick them until they squeal and fall over (a separate but much better problem than fear!)

So from this I suggest to you: ask your daughter to ignore Lola, let Lola do the approaching. When the dog does come by for interaction, be calm and kind. Until you get the fear/nervousness sorted out, I would excuse your daughter from all training duties. Ask her not to correct Lola or interact with her at all, unless the dog instigates it, and then only positively. If Lola exhibits fear/nervousness, have your daughter turn her back and calmly walk away (the "I'm not a threat" posture.) Repeat as needed.

Of course, follow your gut. If the situation deteriorates or the dog becomes aggressive towards any family member, you are beyond the help of random yutzes on the Internet. Seek the advice of a professional behaviorist.


edit: "Ignore the Lola." The Lola. It's a title, like The Pope. Sigh.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yup, done that. The ignoring thing, that is, although not quite to that degree. Also have consulted two different behavourists, plus chatted with our vet. Got three different answers, tried all three things. Nothing has really changed and she's not getting any worse so at this point, we'll still keep trying stuff. Thanks! :)
 

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How is your daughter "correcting/disciplining" the dog?
I'm curious about this too.

You also said "you have tried every kind of correction".

Correcting a dog for this can make them worse and even more fearful so that even if you use positive reinforcement or another method it will take longer. How long have you used these methods? Using them for a month and saying "it doesn't work" does not constitute a real try, in my opinion. This kind of behavior adjustment can take months and years even depending how well you can manage the dog and the kids. Does the dog have a "safe place" to go away from the kids?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ok, correction. A stern "no" followed by ordering to her bed and making her sit. She never touches her. Lola almost always responds without me needing to intervene. Dog trainer one - as soon as my daughter hits puberty this will stop. Dog trainer two - various walking/exercising/leash training/feeding techniques for my daughter to do. She is still doing most of them. Vet - ignoring bad behaviour and giving positive reinforcement (affection/treats) for good behavior. We definitely praise good behaviour but I still verbally correct bad behaviour. As soon as she hears my stern voice she automatically shows me her belly. We are constantly working with her and have never stopped trying.
 

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Ok, correction. A stern "no" followed by ordering to her bed and making her sit. She never touches her. Lola almost always responds without me needing to intervene. Dog trainer one - as soon as my daughter hits puberty this will stop. Dog trainer two - various walking/exercising/leash training/feeding techniques for my daughter to do. She is still doing most of them. Vet - ignoring bad behaviour and giving positive reinforcement (affection/treats) for good behavior. We definitely praise good behaviour but I still verbally correct bad behaviour. As soon as she hears my stern voice she automatically shows me her belly. We are constantly working with her and have never stopped trying.
Could you be more specific about what trainer #2 said? The things that your daughter is supposed to do? What feeding/training techniques is she supposed to do?

What bad behavior do you correct? If the dog growls and you correct that you are telling the dog "do not growl". Eventually you can get to the point where the dog won't growl but go straight to biting because they learned not to growl and the next thing to do is physically warn them off. Growling is a form of communication that is extremely helpful in monitoring when a dog is hurt, scared, frightened, or needs space. If you have a dog that was taught not to growl then the next thing for them to do is to bite or use more forceful methods to get their space, which is something no one wants.

My dog does not like small children either. She will nip, growl, resource guard from them, and definitely does not appreciate them coming up to her. Does the dog have an area that is off limits to the kids? A kennel or an area where the dog can go? When my dog is in her kennel it is hands off. No one is allowed to pet her/go up to her in the kennel. It is her "safe zone".
 

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I agree with Nil. If you and your daughter are correcting a growl then you are basically telling your dog that you don't want to be warned when she needs space or has some other issue. Dogs, of course, can't talk. :) But, they are living, breathing creatures who have likes and dislikes and have bad days, and have days when they don't feel well, or are grumpy, or tired, or what have you, just like people.

Just because they are dogs doesn't mean that we have to subject them to petting any time we feel like it, or waking them up from a sleep and expecting them to do immediately as we ask in a positive way. [I am not saying you are doing this, they are just examples!] So, if a human goes to pet a dog, maybe they're not in the mood. Dogs don't like petting on all parts of their body, anyway. If they growl, it's a way to say "not now, please." And if we correct the growl, what other way can they say "not now, please."? Biting might be the next step.
Same with waking a dog up and expecting them to be chipper and happy. I'm not too happy in the morning, and neither is my dog Harper (Abby LOVES mornings, though!). So, if you wake us up, and ask us to do something right away, we probably won't be happy about it.

My point is, many, many people think of growling in negative light. But, really, it's just your dog's way of letting you know something is making them uncomfortable, or that they're sick or hurt, or whatever. So, yes, find out WHY the growl happened and then proceed from their, but punishing/correcting it just makes going straight to a bite more likely.

Kids speak in a higher pitch, they usually move more quickly than adults, they seem to be a bit more boisterous and spontaneous and all of that can be alarming to a dog. Your dog just may be on guard, on edge, because the "kid-like" behaviors of your daughter don't set well with her.
My first step, if I were in your situation, would be to stop any correction for growling and have your daughter respond to the dog's request for some space.

BUT, I am not in your home, and I can't see for sure what is going on. Internet descriptions are sometimes hard to get a full picture....
 

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I'd also make sure you supervise ALL interactions your daughter has with the dog, including if she walks it. Kids will often try to imitate what they see on tv or do what friends tell them, and she may be engaging in less than positive training techniques when you aren't around, like alpha rolls, collar jerks, bumping with foot, like cesar milan. All of which can make the dog distrust her.
 
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