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Okay...so we got an adorable Wheaten Terrier pup about a month ago - her name is Shelby. She is sweet and spirited and we love her. I am a stay-at-home mom so I am able to be home with her a big part of the day, which is nice. We have three kids in the family; an 8-year-old boy, 6-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy.

Although I'm aware of all the "stay calm around a puppy" rules, it's just not 100% realistic in our house. Obviously when the kids get excited she follows suit. But the problem we're having is this - it doesn't matter what is going on, she likes to "attack" the kids. I don't know if it's their low center of gravity or what, but she barks at them, jumps on them and nips them all at once every time they get near her unintentionally, or even if they are not near her, she will run to where they are. She often starts out by barking at them and then she goes for the jumping/biting. She has hurt all three of them with her sharp puppy teeth, and my daughter is starting to fear her. I tell them all to stand their ground and not to shriek and run around, but my daughter and toddler son can't help themselves - and I can't say I blame them.

I have also tried telling the kids to turn their back and cross their arms over their chests silently, but she continues to jump and bit the backs of their legs and clothes.

In the midst of all this I always start out correcting her with a sharp NO! (I have to startle her b/c sometimes I am not right there when it happens, and I don't want her to continue hurting the kid while I try to get to her.) I leave a leash on her so I can pull her back away from them, and then I quickly squeeze the back of her neck (like a mommy dog would) and say NO BITE! I've also tried other methods, but she remains in such a frenzy she just nips at me. Often I have to lay her down on the floor and just hold her until she calms down.

Having said all this, I don't feel her "attacks" are overly angry, teeth showing biting...but they are way too aggressive for my taste. I really want to get this under control now, b/c she will be a lot bigger when she is full-grown.

Am I overreacting in terms of the fact that she may slow down with this as her "puppiness" goes away?

All I know is that I don't want her hurting my kids at any age....

Any input?
 

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Well as you know Terriers are known for their tenacity, they were after all bred to kill things.
What your puppy may be doing is (unknown to herself since it's instinct) practicing her hunting skills.

What kind of training have you done with her so far? I would work on Down a lot so you can interviene with a command and give her a treat for doing something OTHER than eating your kids haha.

Dogs don't understand "Don't do that!" they only understand "This is what I want you to be doing" So training her to do things you want is the best way to prevent things you don't want.
 

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You puppy attacks are her way of playing.

Yelling and laying her on the floor is not the best thing. I strongly recommend against it. These things can cause aggression later on. Actually, while a single, sharply spoken word will get her to redirect to you, loud words (along with shrieks from kids) will tend to escalate the excitement.

Here is the problem in a nut shell. Your puppy is with your kids and the situation is unsupervised. Kids and puppy need to be separated physically unless you are physically there to supervise. If the kids get to running or the puppy gets too excited, separate.

The next thing you need to do is get your puppy to puppy class. These classes will help you to learn how to train her.

Last, puppies and dogs need exercise. This means walking on a leash for 2-3 miles a day.. each and ever day.

Play needs to be appropriate. Wendy Pape did a DVD on playing with your dogs that you can get from www.dogwise.com. Teaching a puppy to play "tug" and to retrieve a ball is great for burning energy.

That being said, you do have a terrier.. and they are very high energy dogs. This mixed with young, high energy children requires and even higher energy Mom and Dad.

I would also recommend crate training your dog. Sometimes, being able to separate the kids and dog for a bit of "settle down" time is good for all. Dog will settle much better with a peanut brutter filled Kong in her crate than out loose where playing is very enticing.
 

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Your dog is just playing with them. My terrier loves to play with kids. Kids are so excitable it just makes little puppies go crazy.Your kids need to stay clam or else this is going to keep happening. Follow Elana's instructions and all will be better in time.
 

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Dogs and kids should never be unsupervised. Period. Children are active, loud and don't have a lot of impulse control (neither do puppies). Forcing her into a submissive down or harshly correcting her WILL NOT WORK. It will likely worsen the behaviour. Dogs are genetically and instinctually wired to chase and bite things that move or that make sounds. Kids do both. You need to teach the pup to do something ELSE than chew on the children...work on "sit" and "down' using rewards, work on recall ALL the time,using REALLY REALLY good rewards. Work on "leave it" and "off". Pups that are left to their own devices, who are not given things to do, ie be "employed" will become "self employed".

Get a crate and a waist leash. Keep the pup tied to you or gated or crated. Ensure she gets proper socialization and play/exercise/training several times a day. You can teach your older children how to "train" the dogs with calm manners, keep a handleless leash on the pup when working with the kids and dog so you have the "safety" issue handled.
Your pup is a baby and does not know any better. Your kids cannot be expected to not be kids, though as they age the "staying calm" thing will improve...it is up to you as the adult to control all the situations where the kids and dog are together.

I really recommend you get a good positive puppy class or personal visit in to learn what to do before this gets to be a bigger problem. Get some reading material: Paul Owen's
The Puppy Whisperer is great and covers all stages of puppy hood (good and bad). You have purchased a high energy, very intelligent TERRIER and you need to know how to work with her properly to ensure a safe, wonderful pet.
 

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I think everyones advice above is great.

The pup/dog should never be left along unsupervised with children (this holds true for all breeds).I would suggest crating your puppy or a waist leash if you cannot supervise your puppy for a period of time.Have you tried baby gateing off say the kitchen so that the children and dog can be kept seperate at times ?

Believe me I know what you are going through you are talking to a mom of 4 boys (11,8,5,3) and it gets wild around here sometimes.My dogs have been trained to ignore the excitement or they get crated if too excited.Mind you I have boston terriers (and we have litters of pups once or twice a year) and an American Bulldog pup (and 3 cats).So it is a full house.

That being said I would have not recommened a terrier breed to a home with young children, terriers are tenacious and are known to be nippy and aggressive,highly strung and can be very yappy and if not corrected it can quickly turn very nasty.I would contact your breeder for specific advice on how to deal with this also.

Where did you purchase this puppy ?
Did the breeder have children in the home so that the dog was well socialized with kids ?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Hi again all,

Thanks so much for the input! I had Westies growing up, so I know how feisty terriers can be - one of the many qualities I actually love about them. We did a ton of research on Wheaties and I have a few friends with them, and all we heard is what incredible family dogs they are, and how good they are with children. And for the most part, she really is! What a sweet-natured and playful dog. It's just this one thing that I'd like to "nip" in the bud ASAP...(pardon the pun)

A few things I should clarify, and maybe they are moot points - Shelby often does the "attacks" when the kids are NOT active. I don't really let the kids around her when they are wrestling and such, I've been careful about that. I've taught the kids to pretty much be calm around her, and it's almost like she spots them wherever they are standing and a light bulb goes on. I can totally see it coming, and I think she senses the kids' apprehension when she "targets" them, and it excites her more. They are never left totally unsupervised with her b/c she is limited to the kitchen and living room - I have to watch her every minute anyway so she doesn't have an accident b/c she is not fully potty-trained yet. When I say I have to "run" to stop Shelby, I mean no more than six feet or so. BUT, maybe six feet is even too far - sounds like I need to be by her side at all times when she is out (tie her leash to my waist). Perhaps she is not as supervised as I thought. It does scare me with my two-year-old though, today I had Shelby on the leash, he walked by and she jumped right up and bit his cheek - he has such a low center of gravity! She is one quick dog.

Also, she is doing very well with crate training - the crate is her territory and no one else's - the kids know not to try to get into it or to bother her when she is in there. I do often put her in there to calm down (not as punishment) and she flops right down -it's her little den.

I agree 100% on the exercise thing - unfortunately she sprained her front paw when she hopped up on the curb and landed on it the wrong way. She's been in a splint for about two weeks and just got it off, bless her heart. Thus she hasn't gone on a "real" walk yet (beyond trips to the bus stop, etc.) I'm hoping that starting long walks will help!

I do intend to take her to puppy class, but she hasn't completed all of her shots yet.

Having said all that, I'm definitely not perfect in all of this, or I wouldn't be here, huh?! ;) I was pretty confident in my ablities in terms of a pup, I've had several pups and dogs in my life, but this is the first one I've had with my husband and kids, and there are different issues to consider now. I think seeking outside help, as some of you suggested, might be the way to go. I think our family needs training as much as Shelby does....

Feel free to comment further - again, thanks everyone!

PS - Some of you asked about the breeder. He actually did have a child and believed strongly in socializing the pups before handing them over to the owners. And Shelby's parents were very well-behaved, according to him. However, I think I will shoot him an e-mail to see if he's dealt with this in any form!
 

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Teaching Doggy ze nwill help, use the "leave it" command when she 'zones in' on hte kids. It really does sound like she's trying to get them to play, so perhaps teaching her to grab a toy instead would help. Have the kids grab a toy and throw it past her to distract her, or teach her to 'find' it' Also perhaps since she's a Westie and a natural digger, give her a sandbox to play in outside with toys hidden in it to find.

Be sure to have the kids practice the Bite stop, when she bites she gets a yelp from them and they leave her taking away the attention she's craving at the time. even if it means closing a door between them and her.
 

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I think that she could be trying to place herself above the children in the pecking/pack order.I really think you need to have someone come in an evaluate the situation a bit deeper (then over the internet)...It really scares me when you write about this pup nipping or going for your son's face. (a few years back we had a young child that was killed by 2 small terrier breed dogs )

It is easy for us as parents (adults)to tell our kids to stand your ground or act calm.But after being nipped (and honestly it could turn into biting soon) by the pup/dog I can see where they would be afraid of the dog.All it took for my sister was to be licked in the face by a friendly great dane at the age of 3 and she was terrified of dogs for almost 20yrs.

And yes terriers do sometimes make good family pets BUT remember that each dog has is own temprament,likes and dislikes,energy level, ect...
 

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The pup is NOT trying to 'place itself" over anyone. It's being a typical, rambunctious pup.

If you truly feel you need a professional to help you (they can never hurt) try finding one here: www.apdt.com or www.iaabc.com you can also most likely find good puppy classes through both of these organizations.
 

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BUT, maybe six feet is even too far - sounds like I need to be by her side at all times when she is out (tie her leash to my waist)
I would recommend doing this. It'll make your job of supervising everyone much easier.
 
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