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I'm new to the forums and am hoping some of you can offer some encouragement and perspective (without too much judgement) on our difficulties with our new puppy.

Here's the situation...

We have two daughters, 8 and 5. They have always been in love with dogs and have wanted one for years. My wife and I are also "dog people" and were raised with dogs, though we've never owned one as adults. I've always thought it was important for a kid to experience the joy and responsibility of owning a dog and wanted to get one before my oldest moved into the busy tween/teenage years.

So four weeks ago we adopted a sweet 14-week old Australian Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix puppy. The organization had rescued her mother from a shelter and then fostered her and her pups until they were the right age to adopt out.

She is a very sweet puppy...very friendly with people and other dogs. She is fairly mellow most of the day but, like all puppies, has several high-energy periods. The problem is that she tends to jump up on my kids and does quite a bit of "play-biting" which, with her sharp teeth, often ends up hurting my girls and ends in tears. The girls are very well-behaved with her. No teasing, pulling, etc. My youngest does move quickly and erratically like all young children, though.

The girls were very enthusiastic about her when we first brought her home but now my youngest is scared of the puppy and doesn't really like her much. My oldest is doing better but doesn't seem very enthusiastic about the dog either. This is a stark contrast to the love and affection they shower on smaller dogs that we've dogsat for.

I'm really sad about this. We got the dog for the whole family but I really hoped she would be a special friend to the girls. Sometimes I feel that a small, adult dog would have been a better choice for our situation.

I have been very good about taking the pup for walks, runs and to the dog park to get her energy out each day. I'm also doing training myself at-home and will be starting a class this week. We do all of the recommended tricks for dealing with the jumping and play-biting (diversion with a toy, time-outs, yelping, etc).

So here are my questions for those of you who have been there...

  1. Have any of you been through this? Does it get better? Do the kids eventually grow closer and come to like/love the dog? Do they forget those early days of being scared and disliking the puppy?
  2. How quickly can these key issues (jumping and play-biting) be corrected through training?
  3. Any tips for creating more positive interactions between the kids and the puppy?
  4. Any other advice/encouragement?
Thanks for any advice you can offer.
 

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Have any of you been through this? Does it get better? Do the kids eventually grow closer and come to like/love the dog? Do they forget those early days of being scared and disliking the puppy?
Yes, all puppies jump and bite. This is just a normal puppy stage. It does get better with work, training and time. Most kids forget it pretty quickly, some (like my youngest son) are never bothered by it, a few sensitive children may be bothered by it for longer. If your children are the sensitive type try to limit the time they spend with puppy right now to avoid any long term hurt feelings or misgivings about the puppy. I can say I honestly don't remember my childhood puppy biting me, but I'm sure she did. My son cannot remember any of our dogs teething on him but most of them have, he just loves them too much to care. My oldest however remembers and will still say "you bit me when you were a puppy," from time to time.

How quickly can these key issues (jumping and play-biting) be corrected through training?
This will depend on a lot of factors. Some puppies pick these things up quicker than others. It will also depend on the kids. Puppies like to run, jump and bite fast moving targets so the children will have to learn how to interact with the puppy. Running may cause jumping and nipping for a while, particularly with an aussie mix. If everyone works together with positive training you can probably help puppy learn some self control by 6months but Aussies are known for being pretty physical dogs.

Any tips for creating more positive interactions between the kids and the puppy?
Teach your kids how to play appropriately with the puppy. Teach fetch, frisbee (not yet but soon), games that work the puppy's mind like hide and seek. Let them be responsible for feeding time and helping walk the puppy.

Any other advice/encouragement?
Ask if you can bring one or both of the kids to training classes, maybe alternate. Help them learn to train the puppy. Also, I would advise against running the puppy on leash and taking the puppy to the dog park. Running on leash is hard on joints, try playing fetch instead. Dog parks are just dangerous for puppies, you should wait until she is older. Try puppy play dates or a puppy socialization group instead.

Many people like Kikopup videos on youtube. They are pretty good but I have a few issues with her personality. ZakGeorge is also good as well as Donna Hill. Might give you some ideas on how to work on your problem areas.
 

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You got some good advice from Remaru. I have had many dogs over the years and have 3 children, all grown now. My oldest daughter was an Animal Science major and more like me. My oldest son has a large breed dog he runs with, etc. My middle son never really had the animal connection so they are all different.
You still have a pretty young puppy, liken it to a 3 year old. So glad you are going to be taking it to some classes and hope you take at least a basic Obedience class when it is 6 months old.
Start getting the pup to pay attention to you by teaching a Sit command. When the pup is around the kids, keep it on leash so you have control. If it jumps on them, pull it off and give a command such as Off, No jumping, etc. That way you can supervise the interaction with the kids and have some control with the leash. Progress to having the kids give the pup treats but it has to sit and stay to get one. This is a young pup and their attention span is very short. Like a kid they want to play.
Do not exoect results overnight and you do need to work with the dog separately to establish yourself as pack leader. Patience and persistence. Look up NILF (Nothing In Life Is Free) dig training and start implementing what you can now. Supervision is your best bet. If the puppy gets too rambunctious with the kids, end the play and try again later. Hope that may help some.
 

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Keep in mind also that Goldens and aussies are known for their mouthiness.... I work with a golden who is almost a year who still loves grabbing things/people with his mouth. That said they're both extremely smart breeds and should pick up on training quickly. Zak George has several videos on raising puppies on YouTube that includes lots of puppy biting tips, I highly recommend checking him out.
 
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