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I recently purchased a 10 month old, started, English Setter. I observed this dog in the field and also up close in a living room setting. I was impressed on both accounts and took her home. Her name is Ava. She has been in the house for a week and 2 days. She shows some signs of timidness when corrected but listens fairly well. She was "started" by a friend of the kennel owner and spent some time in a household setting but more a kennel dog than anything else. She has a great disposition almost all the time but I am having a problem with her and the kids. She has growled at my little one (3yrs) a few times. Today it was over a toy. She also growled at my 8yr old once a few days ago but I'm not sure why. The children have had dogs in the past and are NOT being anoying to the dog, I am certain of that. I was present every time she growled at the 3 yr old and she was not doing anything she shouldn't have. I purchased this breed because of all that is written about their great disposition. I spoke with the kennel owner a few times and he was shocked at her behavior. I am worried that this dog will not turn into the pet i had hoped. I refuse to have a dog that I have to worry about and can't trust. Should I be looking to find her a new home or am I being too quick?Could this be just an adjustment from kennel life? I have had dogs my whole life but always from a young puppy. She recieves nothing but love from everyone in the family and even though she has only been here a short time, and growls at them, the kids are very attached.
 

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Sounds like IMO that the dog is being overstimulated and being pushed to far to fast. Some "shyer" dogs need more space at first. Some of them always need more space than the average dog.

Does your dog have a "den" or a crate? I would only give high value things (stuff she might be growling over) while the dog is in her crate or "safe place".

Also if she growls, shes done. Period. That toy disapears. She doesn't get it back for quite a while.

If the dog is in its crate or "space" it should be kidless :p. Eventually the dog learns that if the enviroment is too much she can go to her crate to get away.

As far is the "too soon" i feel that when you take a new dog home your looking at about 6 weeks for the dog to fall into its place and the routine and start to get comfortable. That said, its ussually around 6 or so months for the dog to be completely "themselves".



Dog | Forum | Rocks!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for the reply. I guess only time will tell. She does have her den but I need to put her in. She won't go on her own. I guess she hasn't figured it out yet. I agree with the , growl and it's gone theory. She won't be playing with that toy again. She did it with my glove too. She was so sweet at the kennel and even here at home but almost only for me exclusively. I don't like having to worry about my little one trying to pet her when I'm not there. Very uneasy feeling.
 

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Hi,
I'm new to this forum but not new to the dog world!
In reading what you said about your new dog, this dog is going to be a problem for your family. English Setters are not known to be aggressive towards people at all. They are a lovely breed in every way.

Unfortunately being raised in a kennel and not exposed to small children, she will be a problem for you and your family. Your family must come first.

I agree with Criosphynx. But I think that you should either be prepared to spend a lot time and a lot of money on a very good dog trainer or bring her back to the kennel that you got her from, and wait to get a puppy.

Our emotions get in the way a lot of times, but doing this now will be a lot better for your family before you all get too attached. Living in fear of the dog possibly biting your children is not the way to live. Getting a puppy will make it a lot easier on you and your children.

Good luck! :)
 

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Learning to learn.

I take it this dog will become a friend to your and your family, maybe even a hunter as you mentioned "Field" a hunter term.

Either way, the dog needs to learn and be learned. Terms like Drop and give will go a long way.
Growling is a dog’s way of showing displeasure more then dominance. A dog will grown when it is cornered and scare as much as it will when it is upset and ready to attack, although the actual “Growl” is not the same.
Sorts of growls:
  • Grrr you’re not supposed to be here.
  • Grrr I want you to back up.
  • Grrr you, are scaring me.
  • Grrr I am not pleased.
  • Grrr Listen to me.
  • Grrr this is mine.
  • Grrr I know you’re scared of me!
  • Grrr I am boss.

Because you do not state your dog was trained to protect, I do not believe the last growl to be true. Mind you all the others and a combination of them can be very true.
Who does the toy belong to? Child or dog? It is important that both the children and the dog understand this.
There are mutual toys, balls for example can be such a toy, Playing “Fetch” can teach this to your dog.

Given this dog is a “Sporting dog” he is a natural hunter; this is not a bad thing with kids, as kids love to play. But there are rules to be learned. Words to be used religiously by the kids and you to show what is and is not acceptable in any given situation, This can take time, but learning some times does…

Kids are a natural at this. Some thing they do every day with friends. The only thing to remember, is to remind the kids not to “Grab” from the dog, order the dog to do things like drop, release fetch…

Let’s start from scratch. Put the dog in his crate, and then have the kids sit on the floor in different areas of the living room.
Let the dog out guiding him to the kids with a lead. Let him introduce himself to the kids. Have each kid give the dog a treat when they introduce themselves. Given the dog does not respond to a child have that child turn around and see if the dog curiously goes to see why he turned around?

Watch the dog’s reaction carefully. He might be shy around the youngest because he worries about size, believe it or not, maternal and paternal instincts live well in dogs. They do not want to hurt the child any more then they want to be hurt by them, and they know about clingy fingers and ears.

This could go a long way in describing the growl that the dog is using also. Once the dog has met every one on his level, try a game. Again a small treat, have the dog sit some where, have each child call the dog to them and give him a treat, make sure the children give the dog time to respond to the other child before then next one calls out. If the dog is anything like I think he is… (Most sports dogs like to play) he will fall right into it.

Now try reversing the roles. Give one child a tennis ball. Have the child Lob or roll the ball across the room and say “Fetch” and see if the dog gets it. Do not let the other child reach for the ball while this happens. Now the dog realizes that to “Play” he has to come back and give the ball… Naturally, most dogs will bring back but not release, if you are at this stage of the game, it is time for you to teach… And learn.

Release, means drop without question.
Give. Means bring it to me then release.
Fetch means go get it.
Drop it means just that, no matter where you are, drop it.

Go slowly, but be firm. Once the dog understands the words coming from you, he will understand them from the children.

Be sure to praise your dog every time he does some thing well.


Hope all goes well!
 

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A dog being possessive or dominant over a toy (or anything) is just plain not acceptable to me, especially where kids are involved. You or your kids should be able to walk up to your dog and take away a toy or even a bone without getting their hand ripped off. It doesn't matter if the toy is the dog's and yes, kids should be taught to leave a dog alone when it's chewing a bone, but sometimes it's necessary to remove an object from them and you should be able to do so safely.

If you or your kids are retreating every time she growls you're just reinforcing that behavior. I wouldn't let her have access to the toys at will. When you offer one to her put it on the floor and block her from just snatching it. After you give her "permission" to take it offer her a treat and with the other hand take the toy away. Continue this process until she will let you take the toy without being offered a treat.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm pretty sure it's a hierarchy thing. She won't growl at me no matter what I do do her. She is everything you read about with me. Just wants to be close. I can take the food from her mouth while she is chewing. I don't think she had any contact with children and very little with women. We haven't had any incidents since the toy. The dog seems to be adjusting and I hope that's all it's going to take. At first she had no interest at all in the toys and I think she is a little confused about them. I am taking it as a good thing that she doesn't react to everyone the same way. I just hope she can figure out that ALL humans come first and not just me or all men for that matter. .
 
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