We went through this with our, now 8 month old puppy, Comet. He was SO mouthy and isn't 100% over it. But it's improved tremendously!
I had bite marks, scratches, scrapes, you name it. I have a 5 year old and an 8 year old and it was quite a challenge because my puppy was pretty convinced that my son was put on this earth to chew on!
As one forum member wrote, I didn't seen any type of improvement until 16 weeks. In fact, I don't mean to scare you, but for us, it got worse before it got better. I only tell you this so that you can be extra careful because it won't get better for awhile and you don't want your 3 year old scared of the dog or your dog thinking that the 3 year old is a wonderfully fun, excitable chew toy. It's frustrating, exhausting and daunting... I understand because I felt the same way. But I promise that if you stick it out and work with a good trainer, things will improve and you'll all learn to live together safely.
Even after 16 weeks, it took until about 6 months before I saw a marked improvement where I felt like my kids could pat Comet at their leisure without "getting him too excited" (which really just meant paying any amount of attention to him). But, even now, they aren't allowed to be alone with him at all. Even my son who is a very responsible 8, will skip, run or giggle in such a way that makes Comet want to chase him and bite his clothes. So our house rule is that you can't be alone with Comet and that an adult has to be there. It could be viewed as extreme, but I want them all to have a great relationship so that we can get to his wonderful adult years without any major issue.
As others have written, you have to keep a close watch. Here were the only "solutions" (really coping mechanisms) I used that helped us:
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times indoor (except when crated or unsupervised)
- Have a LOT of bully sticks, tendons and various other yummy chew toys to redirect your puppy when the biting starts. I kept one in my back pocket at all times. I also ALWAYS had treats in my pocket as a diversion.
- If your puppy is getting mouthy and won't be redirected, give him a rest in the crate (he may be overtired and fall fast asleep... if not, he needs a break and so do you)
- Have your husband tether the dog to him if he can't keep a watchful eye on your 3 year old and puppy (I did this when I would prepare meals, etc. and it kept Comet from going after the kids while I was moving about the kitchen and couldn't focus my attention on the kids and the dog... it also allowed Comet to have more freedom and spend less time in his crate)
- Never let your 3 year old and your puppy be together unless they are closely supervised and by closely, I mean close enough to either grab the puppy, grab the child or grab the leash - your sweet puppy will continue to bite and you can't expect your 3 year old to follow directions when being bitten or chased
- Know that it will get better, it's just a phase and you just need to manage this stage so that you can all get to the other side happily
It's exhausting, I completely understand. I honestly had no idea how limited I would have to keep our puppy to keep everyone in our house safe and happy. As a result however, Comet is happy, my kids are happy and my husband and I are happy. While Comet spent the first 7 months closely watched and is still limited in the house, he didn't care one bit. He's graduated to various other parts of the house when the kids aren't home and when they are, I still keep a watchful eye. He's 50+ lbs now, still gets mouthy from time to time and still isn't allowed to be with the kids unless an adult is present. He's now a teenager and with that come some other challenges, but he's happy and so are we.