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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My pup, Turin, is very respectful of my husband and I, but not the kids I care for (I'm a childcare provider). They're here 5 days a week, but don't live here. When she is chewing on a bone or treat, she growls at them and bites them. She's already broken skin on one of the kids (no puncture wounds. It looks like a couple scratches, but they're from her teeth). My husband and I have both asserted ourselves with her and punished her for it immediately (rolled on her back and nipped in the neck repeatedly, and then put in her crate), and she has gotten better, but still acts up sometimes.

She doesn't seem to care if the kids are messing with her food. Just yesterday, she was eating and a 3yr old came over and started playing with her kibble. The dog just let the girl do her thing and she kept eating.

Here are the things that Turin has gotten aggressive over (I've noticed she only gets aggressive if she is laying down and actively chewing on something between her paws):

A large rawhide & chicken candy cane. (2x)
Her Kong toy filled with peanut butter (1x)
A paper towel (1x)

I'm at risk for losing my job if I can't stop her from being rude to these kids. I know that jobs are replaceable and she isn't, so if I lose my job, so be it. I'll find a new one and continue working with her. However, I really love these kids and my dog, and it breaks my heart when Turin is mean to them.

Apart from these incidents, she is lovely with the kids. She loves to play and give/get cuddles and kisses. She hasn't learned to NOT jump on them and she hasn't learned the appropriate amount of force to use during playtime yet, but those are separate issues.

The most important thing to me right now in regard to her is getting her to recognize that she cannot ever be aggressive with children.
 

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Probably the #2 rule of dogs and kids (the first being never leave unattended) - don't let the kids near the dog when she has food or a high value treat. Put her up when she eats or has a bone.

Also, stop punishing or alpha rolling. It WILL make her worse as it will make her feel she has a need to be defensive.

Honestly, with RG you could play trading games, but since it's just children and she's not "aggressive" unless it's a high value item, management would be easiest - let her eat her food and treats in peace (because do you like kids crawling all over you when you eat?).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
PoppyKenna, thanks for your response. :) But what I've noticed is that if we don't alpha her, she gets worse. It wasn't my first response. The first couple times she did it, I just took her treat away and put her in the crate. She would whine a bit, but got over it. Then the next time it happened (with a paper towel), she ended up breaking skin and drawing blood. That was where my husband and I drew the line.

I've stopped letting her have HV items when the kids are here (she gets them in the evenings when "dad" is home and the kiddos are gone), but I'm still worried because for some reason she was defensive over a paper towel (something I wouldn't think would be an HV item). I just don't want her to pick up something like that (i.e. a water bottle) and get "aggressive" over that too when I'm not looking.
 

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I never let kids touch my dogs when they're eating. Ever. It can easily spell disaster. Both of my dogs eat beside each other no problem, but special treats are just that, special, and my youngest resource guards them.

PoppyKenna's advice is spot on. When she has a special treat, put her in her crate, or in a different room. It will be good for both her and the kids to have a break from each other. She is also very young, and a tired baby = a cranky baby.

Stop punishing her. You are letting her now that if she's not extremely defensive, she WILL lose her stuff. I think you'll find if you continue, her aggression will escalate, and she will stop growling and immediately go for the bite.

There is also a very good opportunity here to teach children that you should never bother a dog when they are eating.

Edit: Just saw your updated post. It sounds like she's starting to include RG lots of different things. Start trading with her. If you give me that kleenex, I'll give you a treat! Soon she'll be dropping anything you ask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi, Shandula. Thanks for your insight. :)

I'm considering trading with her, but the thing is, she is already very good at dropping things when either my husband or I tell her to. With us, she is very respectful and well-behaved. But she doesn't listen to the kids at all unless they're playing fetch and they tell her to sit. If we catch her with something she isn't supposed to have, even just one look at her can make her drop it and come sit next to one of us, or move on to something that she knows is okay (like chewing on one of her own toys).

I'm just worried about the moments where I'm not looking. Right now, she's in her crate because she got too worked up and snatched a snack bag of cereal out of the youngest's hands (kids are ages 3, 4, 8, and 9). If the little one would have gone back to take it back from her instead of coming to me and telling me what happened (I was in the kitchen, talking to her brother), there likely would have been an incident.
 

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There are many excellent resources on this thread:

http://www.dogforum.com/general-dog-discussion/safety-children-babies-dogs-115969/

Please, please turn off Cesar Milan and stop using his techniques. You might think that the alpha rolls are working, but they are not. This thread is very helpful in understanding why dominance-based methods can really backfire (and if they were working, you wouldn't be here!)

http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

Your puppy is only four months old. You can turn this situation around. Good luck!
 

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I would also start keeping her away from the kids altogether, except for key moments when you can be in the room and are able to pay very, very close attention to what is going on. That will stop freak accidents or her stealing from the kids (she's just a puppy after all, her impulse control is likely zero).

Maybe try a baby gate and confine her to part of the house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
PoppyKenna, I would try the baby gate idea, but pretty much the entire bottom floor of my house is one big room. The living room, dining room, and kids' area don't have any barriers except for the furniture. We have one walkway into the kitchen, a door for the bathroom, a door to the mudroom, and a door to the storage area underneath the stairs (which is the "cat's room." It has her food, litter box, boxes to play with, etc). We have a gate in the doorway of the cat's room because the dog had a bad habit of eating her poop for awhile (the gate has a cat-sized doorway at the bottom).

Because of the lack of barriers in our bottom floor, I'm considering keeping her in her crate when the kids are running around being, well, kids, and letting her out to hang out with us when we're all in the living room and I can keep an eye on her.
 

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Only have supervised managed interactions with the kids.
You have a great opportunity to develop a dog who is totally comfortable around kids and it can go 2 ways

1) she learns that bad stuff happens when kids are around, her stuff gets taken, she gets bothered, but she can steal treats from them, so its not that bad. Summary, kids suck but at least you can steal food from them.

2) she learns that good stuff happens when kids are around, if she is eating her food and a kid walks by, they are probably going to drop a treat for her. If she is chewing a hv object and a kid walks by. they are just going to offer her some peanut butter to lick off a spoon they are holding. Use the older kids for this at first.
If a kid (or anyone has food...best to teach this with adults first) and she grabs for it, the hand will be closed and the food will be lifted out of reach, but if she sits nicely, she may get something. THE MORE A BAD BEHAVIOR LIKE STEALING FOOD WORKS, THE MORE IT WILL BE DONE. MAKE SURE IT NEVER WORKS FOR HER. Offer her an alternate behavior that gets her the food she wants

Kids even young kids get simple training exercises really quickly, like the name game, or hide and go seek. I strongly suggest you read the book written by this person Living with Kids and Dogs
 

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@rosalinelle- if you can't do babygates, have you considered an exercise pen?

Also, if you are using alpha techniques on your dog, it's no surprise that she will respond differently to children who are obviously not able to use those techniques on her. When you use dominance tactics, you can create a dog who is fearful and will react unpredictably, especially towards people other than the ones who train her.

Management is your best friend in this situation. You are putting big expectations on this little puppy. You are expecting her, at 4 months, to do things that are expected of very well-trained adult dogs. Remember, you need to do more than just protect the kids from her, you need to protect her from the kids. Imagine how horrible it would be to have people invading your space all day, snatching things from you, but only having someone get mad at you when you reacted. To build a strong bond with your dog, you need to show her that you have her back- you will keep the kids away from her when she's showing signals that she needs a break.

My suggestions are to create a kid free space for her that she can retire to when she is overwhelmed. Make it a fun place. Since you can't do babygates, try an exercise pen. Give her high value treats only in the ex-pen. Teach the kids they are not allowed in as it is the dog's space. She should only be allowed to roam free with the kids when you are able to 100% supervise. You risk her reacting in an unfavourable way (teething and nipping are common for puppies her age), but you also risk a child acting inappropriately towards your dog and creating a fearful dog.

I think you have the makings of a great dog. My puppy didn't do half the things yours does at 4months! You also have great potential to set up a good learning environment for kids to learn how to be around a dog. Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Maiabean, she is a wonderful dog. We really lucked out with her. She's weirdly obedient for a 4mo puppy. Right now, I have her lying at my feet, being completely calm while the kiddos run around with their toys. Usually, she'd try to chase them and tackle them to get them to play with her. I'm impressed.

I like your idea of giving Turin her own space. I think that since we already have her crate, we can use that. I've noticed that in the incidents of her being defensive, she does try to isolate herself first - she will go to a corner of a room, or a completely different one. And then the kids will follow her to go pet her, and she gets upset. I think I'll start giving her her treats in the crate, which will give her a break from all the crazy energy little ones bring around, and let her relax on her own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Only have supervised managed interactions with the kids.
You have a great opportunity to develop a dog who is totally comfortable around kids and it can go 2 ways

1) she learns that bad stuff happens when kids are around, her stuff gets taken, she gets bothered, but she can steal treats from them, so its not that bad. Summary, kids suck but at least you can steal food from them.

2) she learns that good stuff happens when kids are around, if she is eating her food and a kid walks by, they are probably going to drop a treat for her. If she is chewing a hv object and a kid walks by. they are just going to offer her some peanut butter to lick off a spoon they are holding. Use the older kids for this at first.
If a kid (or anyone has food...best to teach this with adults first) and she grabs for it, the hand will be closed and the food will be lifted out of reach, but if she sits nicely, she may get something. THE MORE A BAD BEHAVIOR LIKE STEALING FOOD WORKS, THE MORE IT WILL BE DONE. MAKE SURE IT NEVER WORKS FOR HER. Offer her an alternate behavior that gets her the food she wants

Kids even young kids get simple training exercises really quickly, like the name game, or hide and go seek. I strongly suggest you read the book written by this person Living with Kids and Dogs
Ems, that's a good idea too. She would never dare snatch food from me or my husband (but she does have a habit of going for it if we've left it on the table and walked away - still working on that). I think giving the kids treats to give her when they get in her personal space is a good idea. She loves kids and she loves treats. :) She just doesn't like sharing.
 

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I think an exercise pen is a terrific idea, and I agree that the children need to learn to respect Turin's space and not chase after her when she's trying to remove herself from them.

Also, I'm wondering if Turin is getting enough rest and quiet time during the day. Puppies, like toddlers, need to sleep a lot, and puppies, like toddlers, tend to get cranky when they are tired and overstimulated.
 

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Also, I'm wondering if Turin is getting enough rest and quiet time during the day. Puppies, like toddlers, need to sleep a lot, and puppies, like toddlers, tend to get cranky when they are tired and overstimulated.
100% this! I have a 5 month old Border Collie, which everyone thinks are so crazy, but she sleep a lot during the day.
 

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Am I understanding correctly that these are not your kids and you are an in-home child care provider? I would seriously consider just keeping your dog separate from the kids altogether, this is a liability nightmare waiting to happen.
 
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