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I have a few questions and a problem regarding a dog we recently adopted. Itend to be long-winded, so please bear with me. I don't know what is important so I want to note anything that I have noticed that stands out about the dog.

For Christmas my family rescued an 18 month old, hound mix from the ASPCA. He's neutered, chipped and licensed. We are going to the vet on Tuesday to get his last vaccination.

His behaviour has been absolutely great. He is completely house-trained. In eight days, he hasn't had a single accident in the house. He doesn't chew on anything he wasn't given to chew on. He is fine on his own alone. With the family, he is loving and affectionate. He knows and responds to all the basic commands readily. Sit, stay and come are no problem. This really seems to be a great dog.

I have a few issues that we are already successfully working on. He wants to chase cats and squirrels, especially cats. He is particularly interested in cats. But he responds well when commanded to stop and is already getting much better. He barks and growls at the door and sometimes needs to be taken out of the room so that people can come in. Once they have entered, he immediately settles down and becomes very submissive to that person.

My major problem and the point to all of this is.... I have 2 nieces, 4 and 5 years old and a 2 year old granddaughter. The dog is very excited by them. He stands in their way and pushes his face close to their face and stares. If they move, he will move around to stay in front or very near to them. He doesn't growl or bark. With adults and the older children he is totally obedient and submissive. What is he doing and is he dangerous?

When he does this, we will command him to stop and go lay down. Which he does immediately. Then he will stay there more or less until he is told to get up.

We no longer leave him alone with the small children. In every way but this one, this is a great dog. I really hope this is something I can fix.
 

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Hi Mockfish,

Welcome to the Dog Forum, and congrats on your new dog!

First, I'd like to recommend this article:

Three Ways to Confuse a New Dog

It can often take newly adopted dogs a few weeks to a few months to settle down in their home. It sounds like your hound is doing very well, but it will take more time for you all to feel comfortable with each other.

I would also highly recommend that you read and study the advice and links in this thread:

http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/safety-children-babies-dogs-118721/

You're right to be highly observant of his body language around small children and to supervise their interactions carefully. Do these children live with you? You might want to consider putting up some baby gates or a ex-pen for your dog so that you can better manage their interactions.

Your new hound sounds like a terrific dog and I'm hopeful that all will go well.

Good luck!
 

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One word of advice, NEVER leave small children alone with a dog even if you think that dog is completely trustworthy, it's simply not worth the risk.

Without seeing the dog's body language I'm not willing to guess if the dog is curious, or aroused by the children. Is his stance stiff? Is he giving them a hard stare? What's his ear set? Is he lifting his lips? What's his tail doing? Is he raising the hair along his neck and shoulders? Closed or open mouth and does he normally have it closed? One of the problems is that you have no way of knowing if he was punished for growling and therefore no longer feels he can growl to make his feeling known. So he may or may not growl, but if he does not growl he should still display other body language that will let you know if he's upset by the children or just curious about them.

What you want to do is teach him that when the children come over they do not bother him (keep them away from him), but do cause great things, like treats and play time, to happen. Doing that he will come to be happy to see them. Again keep the children away from him unless an adult is right there (I mean next to the child) to make certain that the interaction is good. Children that age can be totally unpredictable around dogs, and your dog being new you have no way of knowing how he might react to having one pull his fur or get to close to his face with little hands, it's better to be safe then sorry.
 
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A dog that voluntary chooses the closeness to humans and doesn't show signs of discomfort, doesn't sound particulary aggressive to me.
But it depends a lot on bodylanguage. tail, ear position (and these both are why I prefer dogs with a tail and ears...it is a bit easier to read them), overall body posture, lips, eyes.

getting in the face of the humans could be sumissive behaviour and he could be so pushy about children because he's curious about them or because he likes them, but it could also be that he is nervous because often children move around much more and are not as easy to predict in behaviour for a dog, as teenager or adults.
Some dogs are just insecure around little children. in this case, I'd make sure to keep my dog by my side, to give the children some space.

sometimes some dogs of bully breeds can also just be a bit bulldozer-like in their behaviour...it is just the way some dogs are. they "liebes-panzer" their way through life, not knowing their strength, and for people that are bodywise not as strong, it shows more how much impact there is behind their movements. With dogs like that... they aren't aggressive but I'd still be careful around children or elderly people because they could topple them over.

I'd try to keep small children away from the dog though until you know the dog better.
children are inpredictable. they could hurt or startle the dog and the dog could react. that doesn't make the dog aggressive, it just makes important to protect the dog from children.
 

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Thank you for the great information. You've given me some advice.

I can expand a bit on the body language during these episodes. He is bodily alert, he stands completely upright ears erect, mouth closed and his tail is still or slightly wagging. He doesn't display any of the physical characteristics which he normally shows when interacting with other, older people. He is not showing any of the clearly submissive behaviour he would use with me or another adult. He does not appear to be playing or trying to play. His attention is completely focused on their faces.

Prior to the adoption, my wife and I had discussed the possible need for some training classes. But because of the positive behaviour so far, we had put that idea on the back burner. I think now, we might go through with a few lessons. We could invite my sister and her daughters over and we can try to re-create the episodes in the presence of a professional.

Waldo really is a great dog and I don't want to have to return him to the shelter. But I can't risk the safety of the kids. I'll keep working with him.
 

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Getting a trainer sounds like a great idea. Here's yet another thread with advice of how to choose the right one:

http://www.dogforum.com/training-be...ainer-behavior-consultant-behaviorist-113946/

Note that there are different schools of thought regarding training. This forum strongly supports positive reinforcement training techniques. I would advice steering clear of anyone who talks about "pack leaders, dominant-submissive, alpha rolls," and the like.


Since these children don't live with you, I'd hold off on re-introducing your dog to them until he has more time to settle down in your home and you'll gotten a better sense of his personality, behavior, and body language. There's no need to rush this experience.

And besides separating off space for him with baby gates and an exercise pen, you can also start crate training him. Managing and supervising his interactions with these very small children will be good for both him and them.
 

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I would definitely second a trainer, but your dog doesn't sound aggressive at all. He actually sounds rather perfect actually.

Yes, he has a prey instinct - why he's chasing/interested in the cats - but that's normal for a hound and may not be completely stopped but it can be managed with some work. It's also pretty normal for a dog to be territorial about a door, it's you that needs to make the rules about how to great the people at the door. Some put the dog away until the guests are in, I personally let my dog be in the room and made sure all my guests ignored her while dropping treats - this worked for me, but may not work for all dogs. If you notice your dog getting really over excited or focusing in on a specific child, I would remove the dog right away for a time out and try again when he settles down. Children can easily bring out the prey instinct in a dog because of their shrill/high pitched speaking, quicker movements, and they tend to be at or below eye level so a trainer can definitely help before something happens. Make sure to look for a positive based one though. Any "alpha based" trainers can sometimes cause more harm than good.
 

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He could be herding the children depending on the breed, if he's bored. He sounds like a great dog though and of course monitor with children 125% of the time. A trainer is a great idea, and I think you'd enjoy it too.
 

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If I've learnt one thing in the 18 months since we got Jax, it's that you can't even trust adults to know how to behave appropriately around dogs, let alone children!

We haven't got children ourselves but we spend a lot of time with a friend who has an 8 year old girl and a 4 year old boy and Jax adores them both, you will never see him as happy and relaxed as he is when he's in their company. However, I would never, ever leave those children alone with my dog and yes, it's that way round!! They are children after all, normal children who get excited, run about, squeal and sometimes test boundaries, Jax has never put a foot wrong around them but accidents happen, even with us adults around constantly monitoring the situation, Jax will suddenly find himself in the way of a stray ball or something and in my opinion it's my job to protect Jax from these things so he doesn't ever feel the need to react. If we are there for a long period of time, overnight for example, I have lots of strategies in place to keep everyone happy, it's important to me that Jax enjoys being there as much as we enjoy having him there and that the children enjoy his company and don't find him too much, I think it's important that the kids have good experiences with Jax and vice versa.

We have time out walks for a bit of peace and quiet, (probably more for me then they are the dog!) I'll feed him there in a treat dispensing toy to tire his brain out and have some 1-1 time with me, I always take a bone for him and the children are kept well away and we always schedule an hour for some fun in the field with his beloved ball! He loves it, he gets plenty of the right kind of attention, the children are learning the right way to behave around no a dog (they know to never approach him when he's asleep for example) and we don't have to worry about getting back for the dog!

If you manage the situation correctly, make the dog your priority and teach the children alongside the dog, you'll find taking him places an absolute pleasure, he sounds like a great dog!

Good luck!
 
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