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Greetings all! My family and I just rescued an 2 year old Boxer-Staffie mix. She is medium sized, about 44 lbs and house trained. Yesterday, her second day in our home she growled at our 9 year old twice (we think it was because she got close to her box of toys), then later that evening she growled and snapped at my 15 year old/6 foot son (He wasn't near her toys and it was his first introduction to her). My 20 year old daughter had no issues with her at all. Wondering what I might be able to do to fix this situation.
 

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The growl is an important communication from your dog and should be respected.

Dogs give a series of signals that they are unhappy, but unfortunately most people don't recognise them because they can be quite subtle. To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore the early signals or reprimand the dog for giving them; stopping the dog from giving them would be like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm.

As she has only been with you a couple of days she is insecure, doesn't know if she can trust you and doesn't know what to expect. So give her more time, several days to decompress when nobody approaches her. Put down food and walk away, leave her to eat in peace.

After a few days, you can try tossing treats to her, but further than where she is so she has to move further away to get them. That means she will learn you offer good things and that she doesnt have to get close to scary people to get them.

Then you can put one down and see what she does. If she darts in to get it and retreats, it's too soon. Go back to tossing them away from her.

When she is taking treats from the floor happily, try offering by hand but again watch her body language.

When you stroke her (and don't try this until she is taking treats, unless she instigates it) use the five second rule. Pet her for five seconds then stop. If she asks for more, for example by nudging you or similar, do another five seconds then stop again. Continue only as long as she asks. That gives her control over how she is touched and, knowing she can make it stop, helps build her confidence and trust.

I'd also lift the toy box for now, and make sure she has a safe place to retreat to where she is never disturbed.

I wouldn't be massively concerned at this stage, the air snap was probably because she felt her earlier back off signal hadn't been heeded, and actually shows good bite inhibition - if she had really wanted to bite, she would have.
 

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Thank you for the response. My son came out of his room this morning and as soon as she saw him, she started barking and went after him. We tried him ignoring her, we went out front for a walk and then we came back in the house and tried different things. She became very aggressive with him each time. :(
 

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Do you know her background with children?

Please tell your son not to even make eye contact with her, to a dog that is very intimidating body language.

It might be a good idea to keep them completely separate until she is more settled.
 

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Do you know her background with children?

Please tell your son not to even make eye contact with her, to a dog that is very intimidating body language.

It might be a good idea to keep them completely separate until she is more settled.
OK thank you. They said she was great with people, they didn't specifically say children. We tried more today with the same results. She even took a treat from his hand, he then pet her and she started barking/going after him.
 

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Honestly, she needs more time. She may have taken the treat but she sounds conflicted - she wants the treat, but has to approach the scary child to get it so she reacts.

Please, please go back to the steps in my first post, tell your son that much as he wants to interact with her, taking it at her pace will be the way to make it work in the long term - so no interaction, no eye contact, throwing treats beyond her and so on.

Look on the two or three weeks of not engaging with her now as an investment, the price to pay, for their relationship in the future.
 

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Honestly, she needs more time. She may have taken the treat but she sounds conflicted - she wants the treat, but has to approach the scary child to get it so she reacts.

Please, please go back to the steps in my first post, tell your son that much as he wants to interact with her, taking it at her pace will be the way to make it work in the long term - so no interaction, no eye contact, throwing treats beyond her and so on.

Look on the two or three weeks of not engaging with her now as an investment, the price to pay, for their relationship in the future.
I understand. We will keep them apart for the next couple of weeks and working at her pace.
Thanks again!
 

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Take time to help your dog get to know the owner
Besides feeding and taking care of your health, the most important thing you can do for your puppy is to spend time training. When you start adopting a dog, you might be wondering how the dog knows the new owner? Start by cuddling and talking to him, showering and grooming. Don't be afraid to roll to the floor and play with your dog to get used to your presence.

If you give your dog sincere attention, you will get nothing but strong bond. And when the dog thinks you are a devoted, happy owner, it will gradually eliminate the feeling of "hate" or intend to bite its owner and try harder to please you.
 

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Take time to help your dog get to know the owner
Besides feeding and taking care of your health, the most important thing you can do for your puppy is to spend time training. When you start adopting a dog, you might be wondering how the dog knows the new owner? Start by cuddling and talking to him, showering and grooming. Don't be afraid to roll to the floor and play with your dog to get used to your presence.

If you give your dog sincere attention, you will get nothing but strong bond. And when the dog thinks you are a devoted, happy owner, it will gradually eliminate the feeling of "hate" or intend to bite its owner and try harder to please you.
This sort of intensity and full on attention could make a nervous dog worse. I realise you are trying to help but I strongly recommend that people do not follow this advice in a situation like this. Many dogs don't like cuddling for example, to them it is not a display of affection, it feels like they are being restrained and that can make them very anxious.
 
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