Growling at my kids - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2008, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Growling at my kids

I am new to owning a Golden Retriever, I always had German Shepard's growing up. We got the Golden because we were told that they were great with kids. The problem is that she growls at the kids. It started with just being with our youngest (3 years old) when she would walk by while she was eating. Now it is when she walks by the kennel or when she tries to hug the dog. Here lately it has also includes my older kids ( 7, 11, and 12). This can't be normal. I am looking for any help to correct this problem.

I suppose I should say that our Golden Retriever is a one year old female.

Last edited by prouddaddy; 11-09-2008 at 04:50 PM. Reason: Additional information
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2008, 04:54 PM
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Its not normal, but if you just got her, and she's not used to kids, they would make her insecure. Is she an older dog?
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2008, 05:01 PM
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It is not normal at all, and it's a very serious warning. I would enlist the help of a professional behaviorist right away before it escalates.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2008, 05:04 PM
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Yes, please get some professional help ASAP. I'd have her checked out by your Vet too. She might have an illness or injury that you aren't aware of. This is not typical behavior.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2008, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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She is only a year old and we have had her from seven weeks of age. Picked her right from the litter. She is due to go the the vet for her one year rabies shot, so making sure that there isn't anything medically wrong should be no problem.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-09-2008, 06:03 PM
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I will say that Lucky was slightly more irritated with my kids when he was about nine months. I caught him growling at them...but they were messing with his nose and his his face while he was resting. I didn't get after Lucky for it...he just wanted to be left alone.

I look back and I think he wasn't feeling well during that time. Perhaps his bones were aching from growing pains. It was a short-lived period and they can do just about anything to him now and he loves to have kids by him.

Do talk to your vet about it..
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-10-2008, 01:25 AM
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Not every Golden loves kids. Max takes just so much from the grandkids and then he goes and lies down by the door - and if they won't leave him alone, he comes to me with this "get them away from me" look.
Have you noticed what's happening when the kids are with the dog? Are they too rowdy, too "in her face?"
It may be that the kids need to be trained as much as the dogs do.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-10-2008, 11:35 AM
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I venture to say it is normal...normal for her...Every dog has some point or some situation in which they will growl and bite - her tolerance may be lower then some...

She does NOT like the kids in her face or space...She growls...they leave her alone....IT WORKS FOR HER...It worked so well on the 3 year old...she is now trying it out on the other kids and it is working on them as well. It has become 'normal'.

This does not mean that it is acceptable behavior in a home where children live...but is the only way she has available to get the kids to leave her alone..I am very thankful she has not bitten them.

Dont allow any of the kids to get in her face
Feed her in her crate...
Leave her alone when she eats...
Dont ever leave the kids alone with the dog for even a minute..
Even when you are in the attentive and supervise...dont get distracted with life....really pay attention to the interactions...

Your dogs very life depends on the fact that she has not had to escalate to a bite.
It is very, very difficult to rehome a dog with a history of biting children - often the only option is to be PTS as there are not loads of people lining up to adopt dogs with a bite history.

If this is behavior she has practiced effectively is going to take some time and a plan to help her learn to cope with children in her life. Please get a behaviorist in ASAP. She could have many issues - aversion to the noise/touch/movement of children - Resource (space and food) guarding issues. A behaviorist should be able to help you come up with a plan to teach her that being around kids can lead to good things in her life. They can help you see the many 'cues' that the dog has very likely been offering to the kids to tell them to 'back off' waaaay before she actually growls.

Be prepared for the possibility that she will never be trustworthy around your children.

Certainly get a vet check to rule out health issues/pain.

Please teach your children how to behave when she (or any dog for that matter) growls - be a tree, slowly back away, no direct eye contact, dont scream or screach, dont run away, tell an adult....etc.

Kids (and adults) can become complacent if they live with a growly dog....they can become desensitized to the growls - and ignore her warning...leading to a bite.

Please dont 'correct' the growling - be thankful you are getting the warning - heed it.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-10-2008, 02:17 PM
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I'm not always on the "dog's side", but I do wonder in a household with small children how much the dog is having to put up with. Be aware that hugging is not a normal canine to canine behavior, and it is only we humans who think hugging is just great. Some dogs really hate being hugged, so don't let your kids do it. That being said, I would institue NILF (Nothing in Life is Free) until I could get a good behaviorist in to evaluate your living circumstances/the dog. You can google NILF, and all of your family members should participate, including the 3-year-old. I have a six-year-old granddaughter, so she plays with her own family's dog as well as my golden. She can be rough, she can tease the dog (not maliciously, but annoyingly nonethless), she can get the dog riled up to play chase and then cry if she gets nicked by a dog nail or jumped on....I allow none of that at my house. She's never been growled at or nipped at my house, but she surely has at her own home. Not one time has it been the dog's "fault", and my granddaughter has been taught how to interact with Roxy.....she just doesn't always listen!

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-10-2008, 02:36 PM
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My 5 grandsons all have a golden (3 in one family ages 7,3 and 6 months) and (2 in the other= 2 years and a newborn)

They have all had to learn respect and patience for their golden companion. The family of three rambunctous boys must have a golden with the patience of a saint. I don't think Murphy has ever growled at them but he sure gets up and moves when he doesn't want to be in the middle of a boy riot!

Now the other golden has growled at the two year old when he doesn't want his hair pulled ( and the 2 yr old has learned to be nice to his dog) but the golden has learned through training to "drop" his ball or toy so my 2 yr. old grandson can throw it.

It sounds like training of the kids and the golden are needed here.

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