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Her Dog Days Are Numbered

I was going to post today about how we are feeding the Pumpkin, but something happened this morning that I'm quite upset about and I need ideas/advice. I'll post the one about feeding the baby tomorrow.

This morning, the Pumpkin climbed up onto the bed where the dog was lying, not asleep but resting. I was right there supervising the whole thing, and telling the baby to be "gentle." But either the baby wasn't gentle or she surprised the dog when she tried to pat her ribs. And the dog snapped in her face.

I have never been more mad at that dog, and that's saying something.

The dog didn't bite her, but when the dog is surprised or hurt, she snaps her jaws at the person/thing that did it, and it happened to be the baby's face that was there when she turned. She has never ever bitten anyone or thing, no matter how hurt or surprised, so I'm not worried about the dog truly hurting the baby. In fact, the dog puts up with a lot and is really extremely gentle in most cases.

But this is unacceptable. I will not let the dog snap in her face. But I don't believe in punishing the dog physically, especially in front of the baby who were are trying to teach to be gentle with the dog. I don't think it would teach the Pumpkin to be gentle with the dog if we are then rough with her for defending herself from the baby's rough handling (did that make sense?).

So, any advice? I actually know a lot about training dogs and understanding them, but I'm so upset about this I can't seem to recall much of my knowledge. Any ideas or advice would be appreciated! I don't want to have to kill her or sell her to the gypsies...


Becoming Mommy said…
hm...we actually don't have snappers. Our kerry blue growls incessantly and used to be a fear biter (but no longer) but no snapping. Hmm...our cockerpoo used to though. I really think that you might want to encourage growling, if you can. It's a harmless way to have the dog voice it's discontent. And you don't want to rid yourself of ALL warning. Because that's when you end up with an out of nowhere bite.
For "punishment" we always use a spray bottle. I started with water and if that didn't work I'd start adding tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice till it did. And then when I'd pointed out the wrong behavior, I'd immediately illicit the preferred behavior and give a reward (depends on the dog...the terrier's all about food, the hounds all about thoroughly licking you). It does work and you end up with a behavioral substitution, but really works best when you pick something in the same genre (like snapping vs snarling).
Shellie said…
Oh, does the dog whisperer have a site? I wish I knew. My wild boys turned a docile beagle into a biter! Luckily he was just visiting for the summer. Oh, and as for my post, don't be scared of teenagers, it's important to learn to live on the edge and in a state of confusion at some point in your life. I'm really having fun with this most of the time.
nutmeg96 said…
So, my vet-tech friend says that when a baby comes into a family it's a pretty tough time for a dog. Her advice (from when another friend had similar issues):
"When dogs start growling at children (like in this situation), it is very much in reaction to disorder in their social pack. I can't stress this enough- dogs are so, so sensitive to social order, since they are pack animals. Our interactions with our offspring are very different from those of dogs and their pups. They are firmer, they don't coo, and they don't cater to the pup's every need. Seeing us behave that way with another being really confuses dogs--not just respect to their place in the hierarchy, but to our place as well. The latter can be even more distressing to them since we are their security and the leaders of their pack.

My dogs are fabulous with children. But then again, I am the absolute alpha of the pack and they really don't make any "decisions" like going after things and such without explicit permission from me. And truth be told, they are much happier for it. Dogs are more secure when they know where everyone's boundaries are."

She then went on to recommend a trainer:
Two of my friends have gone there for dog-baby issues and have been really happy.
Karen said…
We've locked the dog in a kennel for a while for such behavior. It's not physical punishment, but they get the idea.
limboland la la said…
i haven't given any great thought to this, but you know i'll be going home to a dog. So who knows how my doggie will be when i get there. But you trust your pooch right, so far no biting whatsoever-- but a snap towards Pumpkin's face is both terrifying and angering.

Unfortunately, I assume Pumpkin can't understand why the pooch might snap or growl. It seems like your pooch is not so much trying to attack Pumpkin as trying to teach her boundaries and trying to have her back off a bit. But they're having communication issues and the way a dog communicates "No" can be violent or have a threat of violence.

I would try to do the policy of avoidance with Pumpkin (that you spoke of earlier...) try to fix up a space for the pooch that Pumpkin can't enter. Or try and teach Pumpkin not to go to.

that avoids the bad shizzut but
i assume you're also hoping to develop a good relationship with Pumpkin and the dog.

So, is there anyway a 1 year old can have some control over a dog? Or give a dog some food? Make the dog happy?

i dunno...i'll wait till i'm in your shoes. it's coming soon.
nutmeg96 said…
BTW, never punish a dog for growling. Growling is a warning. If you punish a dog for growling, then the next time there will be no warning. I know the dog didn't growl, but I just thought I'd mention this.
Pilar said…
Well written article.

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