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Hi All,

I'm a new dog owner and need a little advice. It all started on Thanksgiving when I rescued a dog that was walking on the freeway. He had no tags or microchip so after not getting any response from flyers we posted, a craigslist ad, or petharbor listing we decided the dog was ours to keep. He seemed like the *perfect* dog at first, he just had a little issue with not being housebroken. The house training is going well, but he has started growling at/nipping the air near children.

At first this happened with my daughter's friend whose behavior can be a little overwhelming so I thought it was just her being too crazy around him and my dog feeling nervous (he is just a little guy--probably a rat terrier and possibly chihuahua mix). I gave her some treats to give him and told her to give them to him after having him sit so that he could learn she was a nice person. This seemed to help.

Next he started growling at a couple of my kids when they would try to pick him up, usually when he was sleeping on the couch. I do tell my kids not to bother him when he's sleeping, eating, and going potty, but they're kids and they don't always do what they're supposed to. Then he started growling at them when they would approach him for kisses/pets. My kids can also get into this kind of chaotic energy so I thought maybe he was reacting to that.

Then today when we were on a walk a single girl asked if she could pet him. I said she could, but he growled quietly at her and even nipped the air when she tried to pet him. This girl was calm and quiet and did everything right. What do I need to do to help this little guy? I'm all for respecting his needs, but I also feel he needs to learn that kids are a step above him in this pack.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, he's not always like this with my kids. He'll also play with them and lick them like crazy, he misses them when they're gone and gets excited when they come back.

Thanks for any advice!
Vanessa and Tigger
 

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This is common for this breeds, sorry Im going to be honest (mongrel) as its a mix. But the two breeds you are describing can be quite nasty and not really a children dog. Is she getting reprimanded everytime she does this? I dont mean beating, the word no or bah with a tone.

I would call in a behaviouralist, they can explain to you and the children how to deal with this dog. Problem being with mongrels, backyard dogs, you never know what you are taking in. 9 out of 10 times you are taking in someone elses problems. All mine are purebred/registered dogs. I know the lineage, temperaments throughout the pedigree which is a godsend most of the time.

Having said this, you are right to tell the children not to disturb when sleeping, eating but regardless of the age, if they get bitten knowing the dog is like this is your fault. Its not just a dog that needs training, children need to be trained also.
 

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Where the kids' safety is an issue, you should consult a behaviorist before the problem gets any worse. (like he actually bites a kid). The behaviorist can help you to determine if his aggression is fear based, anxiety, dominance, guarding, ect. I suggest a veterinary behaviorist. It may be expensive to start, but they'll work with you through the problem and can prescribe medication if needed.

I don't think a mutt is any more likely to have behavior problems than a purebred, and there are more than a handful of purebred dogs that I don't think should exist at all (breeds, not individual dogs) due to health and behavior problems. Some breeds are just not suited to be family pets. That being said, knowing a dog's history is helpful and ideally only even tempered, friendly, healthy dogs would be bred. That is never going to happen. And every dog can be worked with. NOT every dog can be safe around kids (I would venture to say NO dog is ever 100% safe with kids), but behavior can be improved and most, if not all, dogs can become manageable.

That being said my parents got a dog for me and my siblings (after relentless begging) when I was 10 years old, they chose a fox terrier. She was 3 months old when we got her and the FIRST night we had her, she sat on the couch next to my mom growling at her because she was eating fritos. She is a genetic mess (medically and behaviorally) and her mother had behavioral problems as well (was given up shortly after we purchased our dog). This dog, who I love to death, is one of the WORST dogs I have ever met. She has SEVERE dominance aggression that we have tried NUMEROUS methods to correct over the years and have now totally given up on. She growls about everything, she air nips but WILL bite and has bitten. She guards food, she growls when you pick her up or try to. Grooming is nearly impossible, as are nail trims. She's always muzzled for exams. She terrorizes the cats (who she grew up with), she bullies other dogs. She is terrible. Lucky for her she landed a home where this was tolerated and she was not euthanized or given up. She has never bitten us badly enough to require any medical attention or anything. As kids we thought this was funny and we were never scared. She posed little threat to our safety and we managed to read her well enough to avoid being bitten and keep her behavior in check.
Your dog does not seem anywhere near as bad as my first dog, yet we managed to live with her.. My intention with the story is to give you some hope... your dog can be worked with. The outcome is questionable, but the situation seems promising.
 

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The statement that this behavior is common for any breed is a myth. Proper socialization needs to happen within the first 6 to 8 weeks of a puppy's life. This is the number one advantage for people interested in any dog coming into their lives and interacting with their children and visitors as well as other animals. I often hear "rescue dogs are the best way to go" or "the only kind of dogs I will get". But, what people don't realize is you get that new pet along with a mysterious beginning, no history of the parents, disorders, and most important..... socialization problems.

The best thing you can do here with your mystery dog is get it to an animal behavior specialist to rehabilitate or even properly socialize your new dog. Or better yet surrender the dog to a reputable ASPCA outlet with the facilities to rehabilitate dogs prior to putting them up for adoption. You basically have a ticking time-bomb on your hands. And waiting until someone actually comes in contact with the teeth behind those aggressive displays can cost you a whole lot more than parting with a dog or going the extra mile to make sure it is properly socialized.

This is my first post here. But since I am in the business of socializing and rehabilitating dogs. I feel it is my responsibility to be heard on this topic. Before we see another post that the dog had to be put down for actually biting.

Another reason why the reputable breeder is the advantage over rescue 99.9% of the time.
 

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There is nothing wrong with trying to help out a stray, it's actually an admirable act I think, but you do need to nip this problem in the bud right now. Finding a good behaviorist is the best option, but at the very least I would recommend enrolling in a basic behavior class. It'll help you establish a bond with your new pooch and also establish your position with him.

Also I wouldn't let him around the kids unless it was under very close supervision. Then the kids would need to be calm (I know that's hard sometimes) and the dog also will need to be calm and relaxed. It is very important that you and the kids are viewed in the leader position with your pup to get the best results. And give a strong verbal correction whenever your dog is showing signs that he is getting ready to growl or bite, but never a physical one for this could just make the problem worse.
 

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I went through this with my small dog, he is a shihtzu/chihuahua mix. He was well socialized and taken everywhere and is even great with cats, but when it came to kids he was quite aggressive. I got a correction collar not a choke chain a collar that is fabric over most of it but the front is chain. Every time he would growl at children, my niece, my friends kids and such, I would pull the chain give him a firm no, and have the kid try again. Every time he let the kid pet him without growling he got a petting and a treat and made sure to let him know he did the right thing. It didnt take long for him to learn what to do. Now my neice carries him around and dances with him. Try that and see if it works. Just make sure to establish yourself as his leader and not the other way around. That what you and other people say goes. That is another problem we had with him, that a trainer said would make him act like that, that he thought he was above us and didnt have to listen.
 

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I have a 5-6 year old male miniature dauchsand, I have him for about 4 months. He is doing quite well, even though he is still veryscared of strangers. My problem is when I got him I was only ten minutes from work and was able to come home during lunch to walk and visit him; I have been transfered to another office where I will be unable to come home during lunch. I have to leave about 7:30am and will not get home until 5:30pm. Is this too long to leave him alone? I feel bad. He is in a large room with his open crate, water , toys etc. He will not use a wee wee pad( thinks they are for shredding only!!). He does not make in his room, but seems like a long time to leave him alone. Please advis
 
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