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Now that my twins are 6, I finally felt ready to take on a second pup. We have a submissive senior dog and kids in the house, so my one criteria was a non-aggressive dog.

We brought our 8 wk golden home 6 wks ago and right away noticed signs of dominance. He had food aggression, would steal treats from our older dog's mouth, and push him aside while he was eating. He urinated on his bed too. Our older dog took a lot, but corrected him sharply with a nip to the nose a few times. Pup continues to assert his dominance as he grows. If both dogs get a treat, pup will finish first and then bark at older dog until he concedes the prize. When I see this I correct it. They do play well together but I feel at 14 weeks this guy has established himself as a feisty little alpha. In response, we make sure he "earns" his food, gets fed after our senior dog, has to exit the door last, has to "sit" for affection, and is allowed on our bed by invitation only.

He’s bonded with me, and seems to enjoy my kids - they snuggle and make him do tricks for treats. However, this week my 6 yr old tried to take her playdough out of his mouth and he bit her in the face, hard. She was scratched up on her cheek and had a split lip. He also growls and tries to bite them when they give him unwanted snuggles, or try put him in his crate. But mostly he is a smart, plucky, and affectionate little guy. He listens to and never growls at me.

Last week he stole food from my son's hand, which left his fingers bleeding. I figured this was bad behavior, and trainable. After the face bite, I felt he crossed a line. I have forbidden my kids to interact with him when I'm not around. He isn't mean as much as cocky, and I feel he is asserting his dominance over what he perceives are his littermates.

I've spoken to the breeder and the vet, and have been told this is unusual behavior for a golden. The breeder offered to rehome him and put us on a new litter list. I reached out to a veterinary behaviorist and am awaiting an online appointment. I was only able to sign him up for puppy class at 5 months, which will be late Dec/Jan, so he has had no formal instruction other than my own.

I am torn. We all want to give pup a chance. He is just a baby after all. Is this behavior at his age correctable? I need to be able to trust him with all children.
 

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First thing, never allow children and dogs be alone together. Especially a puppy with little to no training. im Not so sure he’s aggressive or alpha so much as being an exuberant puppy. At 13 weeks, he’s only 3 months old. I would forget about feeding before/after the other dogs. Just make him eat in his crate. Rule at my house is children never take things away from dogs. They have an adult get it for them. Golden puppies are very mouthy....like miniature T-Rexes sometimes! Make sure he has plenty of appropriate toys. Many of them need something in their mouths. Mine cons have a toy. If you can, I highly suggest a puppy kindergarten through a local training club.

The crate is your friend and can be a safe place for a dog to go. If you truly want it to work, you will have to be strict about rules.

Kids are eating, puppy is in the crate.
Kids are playing with PlayDough, puppy is in crate.
You are busy tending to one of the millions of things you have to do, puppy is in crate.
Puppy is eating, he’s in the crate.
If you have to, separate the dogs and give them treats away from each other.
Right now, your puppy probably still has a “puppy license” with the older dogs. When it expires, they will let him know! Usually before they are 6 months.

Kids never take anything from the puppy. They get you to take it.
Kids only eat at specified space. They don’t carry food around the house.
Do not ever allow kids and dogs be alone together unsupervised.

I know it sounds harsh. Your puppy will be okay. I do this with all of my puppies. If for any reason you don’t trust this puppy, please allow your breeder to Rehome it for you!
 

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I think you need to listen to your breeder. This is not the right puppy for your family. Return him now before he is too much older, and harder for the breeder to place in a new home.

If you get another puppy, you need to start before that puppy comes home teaching your children the correct way to interact with the puppy. NO "unwanted snuggles", no child trying to remove something from their mouth (adults only do that), no child trying to "put" the puppy in the crate. The children need to be involved in training the puppy from the very beginning, teaching the puppy simple commands. That way the puppy will not ever see them as just playmates, but start off understanding they need to listen and do what the kids as as well as the adults. Another puppy needs to be a much more mellow personality for your family, your kids as well as your other dog.


But if the breeder says you should return the puppy, you should return the puppy. Don't keep this puppy and wait until there is serious injury to one of your children and then decide to rehome him.
 

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Kristy
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I have lived through a similar experience. I was fortunate that my puppy never bit a child in the face. I spent a LOT of time with my puppy, he was socialized, he was obedience trained to the point that my 3 year old could put him in a down/stay while she fixed his food bowl, place it on the floor next to him and he would not move to eat until she gave him the verbal release. He started showing out at 14 weeks old with my 8 year old daughter when she was setting the table while I made dinner - he put his feet on the chair to see the table I watched while she put her hands on his shoulders to gently move him off, he turned around with a horrible, vicious snarl. I had a couple guarding incidents and clear signs that he was not a great fit for kids in spite of how closely I managed him. One day when my back was turned, he snapped at my friend's son who was just petting him, hard enough to break skin.

I finally had him assessed with a certified veterinary behaviorist thru NCState. This dog was a great family member 99% of the time, but there were some huge red flags. The answer was that this was a dog who I could never trust with children. I realized I could not spend the next 12 years trying to manage 3 young children with friends and neighbors coming in at any time and still give my dog a quality life. It was hands down the second hardest thing I've ever been through - it tore my heart out ( I was raised in a family that dogs are not disposable objects) but at 18 months old I returned him to his breeder. He now lives with her ex-husband in a household with no children and no problems. It was very hard, but I feel sure it saved his life to place him in an adult only home with an experienced dog person. Facing the thought of euthanizing a beloved dog was enough to make me see I had to love him enough to let him go.

Please listen to the breeder and return the puppy to her. I am going to try to say this very carefully.... this is not your fault or your children's fault, he is not the right dog for a family home. However, the problem was not helped by allowing children to have so much unsupervised interaction with him, they should not be taking things from him - they need to call an adult to help, they should not be putting the puppy in his crate or doing anything that didn't receive hands on supervision from you. Please set your next puppy up for success by setting boundaries for your children, a Golden puppy is a lot of fun for the whole family but it is not a stuffed animal or a trained adult lapdog with good self restraint and tolerance. It takes a very special dog to mildly accept the kind of incidents you described and it's a lot to ask of a puppy. I hope you understand that I just want to help you recognize that you can help set up your next dog for success by requiring more restraint from your children.

My heart goes out to you on such a difficult situation. I hope you'll let the breeder take the puppy back. It will probably save his life.
 

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I'm not an expert by any means, but I'd say biting the face of your young child is a good reason to return your puppy. Mabel had some resource guarding issues but never succumbed to this level.

Also, I was a little concerned to read that your pup had Playdough in his mouth. I've heard that Playdough can be toxic and even fatal to dogs if they swallow it due to the high salt content.
 

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We brought our 8 wk golden home 6 wks ago and right away noticed signs of dominance. He had food aggression, would steal treats from our older dog's mouth, and push him aside while he was eating.
Pup continues to assert his dominance as he grows. If both dogs get a treat, pup will finish first and then bark at older dog until he concedes the prize. When I see this I correct it. They do play well together but I feel at 14 weeks this guy has established himself as a feisty little alpha.
He’s bonded with me, and seems to enjoy my kids - they snuggle and make him do tricks for treats. However, this week my 6 yr old tried to take her playdough out of his mouth and he bit her in the face, hard. She was scratched up on her cheek and had a split lip. He also growls and tries to bite them when they give him unwanted snuggles, or try put him in his crate.
Last week he stole food from my son's hand, which left his fingers bleeding. I figured this was bad behavior, and trainable. After the face bite, I felt he crossed a line. I have forbidden my kids to interact with him when I'm not around.
I've spoken to the breeder and the vet, and have been told this is unusual behavior for a golden. The breeder offered to rehome him and put us on a new litter list. I reached out to a veterinary behaviorist and am awaiting an online appointment. I was only able to sign him up for puppy class at 5 months, which will be late Dec/Jan, so he has had no formal instruction other than my own.
I am torn. We all want to give pup a chance. He is just a baby after all. Is this behavior at his age correctable? I need to be able to trust him with all children.
I am by no means a dog expert. But, it seems like your entire post is a series of "here's why this dog and our family is not a good fit", sprinkled with excuses for his behavior based on your bond with him.

I feel like you've been given good advice, from multiple sources. It now (my opinion) hinges on whether you agree that the "right thing for the puppy" (and, your family and senior dog) is to give him back to the breeder.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
First thing, never allow children and dogs be alone together. Especially a puppy with little to no training. im Not so sure he’s aggressive or alpha so much as being an exuberant puppy. At 13 weeks, he’s only 3 months old. I would forget about feeding before/after the other dogs. Just make him eat in his crate. Rule at my house is children never take things away from dogs. They have an adult get it for them. Golden puppies are very mouthy....like miniature T-Rexes sometimes! Make sure he has plenty of appropriate toys. Many of them need something in their mouths. Mine cons have a toy. If you can, I highly suggest a puppy kindergarten through a local training club.

The crate is your friend and can be a safe place for a dog to go. If you truly want it to work, you will have to be strict about rules.

Kids are eating, puppy is in the crate.
Kids are playing with PlayDough, puppy is in crate.
You are busy tending to one of the millions of things you have to do, puppy is in crate.
Puppy is eating, he’s in the crate.
If you have to, separate the dogs and give them treats away from each other.
Right now, your puppy probably still has a “puppy license” with the older dogs. When it expires, they will let him know! Usually before they are 6 months.

Kids never take anything from the puppy. They get you to take it.
Kids only eat at specified space. They don’t carry food around the house.
Do not ever allow kids and dogs be alone together unsupervised.

I know it sounds harsh. Your puppy will be okay. I do this with all of my puppies. If for any reason you don’t trust this puppy, please allow your breeder to Rehome it for you!
First thing, never allow children and dogs be alone together. Especially a puppy with little to no training. im Not so sure he’s aggressive or alpha so much as being an exuberant puppy. At 13 weeks, he’s only 3 months old. I would forget about feeding before/after the other dogs. Just make him eat in his crate. Rule at my house is children never take things away from dogs. They have an adult get it for them. Golden puppies are very mouthy....like miniature T-Rexes sometimes! Make sure he has plenty of appropriate toys. Many of them need something in their mouths. Mine cons have a toy. If you can, I highly suggest a puppy kindergarten through a local training club.

The crate is your friend and can be a safe place for a dog to go. If you truly want it to work, you will have to be strict about rules.

Kids are eating, puppy is in the crate.
Kids are playing with PlayDough, puppy is in crate.
You are busy tending to one of the millions of things you have to do, puppy is in crate.
Puppy is eating, he’s in the crate.
If you have to, separate the dogs and give them treats away from each other.
Right now, your puppy probably still has a “puppy license” with the older dogs. When it expires, they will let him know! Usually before they are 6 months.

Kids never take anything from the puppy. They get you to take it.
Kids only eat at specified space. They don’t carry food around the house.
Do not ever allow kids and dogs be alone together unsupervised.

I know it sounds harsh. Your puppy will be okay. I do this with all of my puppies. If for any reason you don’t trust this puppy, please allow your breeder to Rehome it for you!
Thank you for this helpful and knowledgeable advice. After the biting incident, our pup has had a very controlled environment as you have described. Having read the other replies, I am more seriously considering sending our pup back to the breeder. My husband is not on board and feels it's just puppy behaviour that he will outgrow. It's a heartwrenching decision, as part of me does question whether this is just puppy exuberance - he is a sweetheart 99% of the time, and with the doubling down on discipline the last few days, he has been doing really well with learning his boundaries with my older dog and kids, and he is friendly and affectionate with mine and other children in general. But the facts are that his innate temperament doesn't hold him back from biting children, so even though he is trainable, I question whether her is good fit for a family home with young children passing through. Such a predicament, thanks again for the thoughtful advice.
 

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Thank you for this helpful and knowledgeable advice. After the biting incident, our pup has had a very controlled environment as you have described. Having read the other replies, I am more seriously considering sending our pup back to the breeder. My husband is not on board and feels it's just puppy behaviour that he will outgrow. It's a heartwrenching decision, as part of me does question whether this is just puppy exuberance - he is a sweetheart 99% of the time, and with the doubling down on discipline the last few days, he has been doing really well with learning his boundaries with my older dog and kids, and he is friendly and affectionate with mine and other children in general. But the facts are that his innate temperament doesn't hold him back from biting children, so even though he is trainable, I question whether her is good fit for a family home with young children passing through. Such a predicament, thanks again for the thoughtful advice.
If he expresses behavior like this at this age, he will only get worse without proper and consistent management. That means every single day of this pup's life for the next decade will be spent getting used to living with a dog that resource guards. The problem is that without consistency, you then have a 60lb dog with will bite when provoked. Many dogs have levels leading up to biting, but once a dog learns that jumping straight to biting is more effective than anything else, it can be difficult to reset. You can teach yourself and the kids how to manage it, or you can try again with a puppy that has a more stable and reliable temperament.

FWIW, my first purebred dog was a heavy resource guarder. I got her at 11 and she bit me once. She never improved, nobody could be in the same room as her. My second also resource guarded, but we learned and he was a little more tolerable. I then raised two others with the propensity to resource guard. Neither of those two ever did more than raise a lip at me and can live in households comfortably. However, they can't ever have chews out around family or other dogs, they stay in a crate when eating or getting longer term treats, and walks are always an act of keeping your eye out for potential issues. Dogs that resource guard can be great family members but it is not easy and this puppy has learned how to deal with his issues by escalating very quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have lived through a similar experience. I was fortunate that my puppy never bit a child in the face. I spent a LOT of time with my puppy, he was socialized, he was obedience trained to the point that my 3 year old could put him in a down/stay while she fixed his food bowl, place it on the floor next to him and he would not move to eat until she gave him the verbal release. He started showing out at 14 weeks old with my 8 year old daughter when she was setting the table while I made dinner - he put his feet on the chair to see the table I watched while she put her hands on his shoulders to gently move him off, he turned around with a horrible, vicious snarl. I had a couple guarding incidents and clear signs that he was not a great fit for kids in spite of how closely I managed him. One day when my back was turned, he snapped at my friend's son who was just petting him, hard enough to break skin.

I finally had him assessed with a certified veterinary behaviorist thru NCState. This dog was a great family member 99% of the time, but there were some huge red flags. The answer was that this was a dog who I could never trust with children. I realized I could not spend the next 12 years trying to manage 3 young children with friends and neighbors coming in at any time and still give my dog a quality life. It was hands down the second hardest thing I've ever been through - it tore my heart out ( I was raised in a family that dogs are not disposable objects) but at 18 months old I returned him to his breeder. He now lives with her ex-husband in a household with no children and no problems. It was very hard, but I feel sure it saved his life to place him in an adult only home with an experienced dog person. Facing the thought of euthanizing a beloved dog was enough to make me see I had to love him enough to let him go.

Please listen to the breeder and return the puppy to her. I am going to try to say this very carefully.... this is not your fault or your children's fault, he is not the right dog for a family home. However, the problem was not helped by allowing children to have so much unsupervised interaction with him, they should not be taking things from him - they need to call an adult to help, they should not be putting the puppy in his crate or doing anything that didn't receive hands on supervision from you. Please set your next puppy up for success by setting boundaries for your children, a Golden puppy is a lot of fun for the whole family but it is not a stuffed animal or a trained adult lapdog with good self restraint and tolerance. It takes a very special dog to mildly accept the kind of incidents you described and it's a lot to ask of a puppy. I hope you understand that I just want to help you recognize that you can help set up your next dog for success by requiring more restraint from your children.

My heart goes out to you on such a difficult situation. I hope you'll let the breeder take the puppy back. It will probably save his life.
Thanks for your advice, I appreciate it. I am so sorry you had to endure this. I can relate to our pup being a wonderful family member 99% of the time. He really is a sweet, confident little guy - with a surprising red flag.I feel our first experience with our older dog gave me the naive expectation that our pup would have the stereotypical gentle Golden temperament and be great with children, which is why we sought a golden. My children were always good about not bothering our older dog, but if he didn't like a situation with a child, he would move himself away. Saying that, I have never taken dog and children safety for granted, and even with my amazing trustworthy older dog, I never left them unsupervised with our big boy until they were older. As for boundaries, the twins are accustomed to a gentle dog who allows them to lead him, so we have had to establish new rules as we realise that our new pup is not innately submissive around kids. We are pretty much always around the kids and our pup, the play dough incident happened with my husband sitting across the way, and he was on top of the situation as it occurred. Since this happened, rules have been put in place where they aren't allowed to remove objects from his mouth or crate him themselves. I am also far more observant of their interactions, and when I can't be, he is crated. It's also not realistic to have to watch dogs and kids every moment, which does make me consider that rehoming him to a child free home would be the right thing for everyone. Heartbreaking for us, but perhaps he is destined to be with other humans in a child free home.
 

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I think you need to listen to your breeder. This is not the right puppy for your family. Return him now before he is too much older, and harder for the breeder to place in a new home.

If you get another puppy, you need to start before that puppy comes home teaching your children the correct way to interact with the puppy. NO "unwanted snuggles", no child trying to remove something from their mouth (adults only do that), no child trying to "put" the puppy in the crate. The children need to be involved in training the puppy from the very beginning, teaching the puppy simple commands. That way the puppy will not ever see them as just playmates, but start off understanding they need to listen and do what the kids as as well as the adults. Another puppy needs to be a much more mellow personality for your family, your kids as well as your other dog.


But if the breeder says you should return the puppy, you should return the puppy. Don't keep this puppy and wait until there is serious injury to one of your children and then decide to rehome him.
Thanks for your advice. I agree that a more mellow personality would be a good fit. I feel shaken by my instincts, as we had first pick of a litter of 5 boys, and I was actively seeking the pup I felt would be the most gentle and submissive. The breeder wasn't insistent about wanting to rehoming the puppy, she actually suggested that at his age he was trainable, but she would understand if I wanted to rehome home, so that option was put on the table.
 

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I agree very much with the emerging consensus regarding taking the breeder up on their offer.

My only query is whether the puppy did go from 0 to 10 and bite straight away? It is rare that dogs do.
It is worth having a gentle enquiring conversations with your daughter to figure out if the dog tried to move away, even move his head away, did he growl first?

Rather I think this information is useful for the breeder for his training and rehoming requirements. Not as a justification for keeping him or in any way mitigate the fact that he did bite.

It sounds like you got the ‘top dog’ of the litter that really needed a more controlled boundaried environment from the start to set him up for success. Whereas your family requires a more mellow temperament, but also sounds as if you and your family have learnt from this experience to provide a better set up for another puppy to thrive.

Good luck, it must be an incredibly hard thing for the whole family to go through and decision to make.
 

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It's a heartwrenching decision, as part of me does question whether this is just puppy exuberance - he is a sweetheart 99% of the time, and with the doubling down on discipline the last few days, he has been doing really well with learning his boundaries with my older dog and kids, and he is friendly and affectionate with mine and other children in general. But the facts are that his innate temperament doesn't hold him back from biting children, so even though he is trainable, I question whether her is good fit for a family home with young children passing through.
I agree that this is heartwrenching. We had a beagle, way back when, and we had to rehome him. Our infant son grabbed his ear, and the beagle snapped at him. Didn't bite, snapped. But, this beagle had also bitten another child on the lip. This child stuck their face into the beagle's while the beagle was sleeping and startled him awake.

In neither case did I consider the beagle's behavior to be unpredictable, nor the beagle to be "at fault". He was "just being a beagle", and the children simply didn't know how to behave around him.

My point?

When you have a dog that needs special attention/care, it's not "just about the dog". It's about training the people that interact with the dog. Our beagle was fine with us, and we were able to monitor his interactions with others to avoid (mostly) any issues. But, that 1% can be a stone-cold b*****. And, with small children, we simply couldn't take the chance. It wasn't fair to the beagle. He ended up with a family that already had a small pack of beagles, and seemed to find his place.
 

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Thanks for your advice. I agree that a more mellow personality would be a good fit. I feel shaken by my instincts, as we had first pick of a litter of 5 boys, and I was actively seeking the pup I felt would be the most gentle and submissive. The breeder wasn't insistent about wanting to rehoming the puppy, she actually suggested that at his age he was trainable, but she would understand if I wanted to rehome home, so that option was put on the table.
Oh and as someone who did rehome a youngish golden (17 months) I would say that he is very likely to get rehomed within a loving environment that can help him. So you wouldn’t be doing a bad thing by giving him back to the breeder. You’d actually be being very selfless and putting the puppies needs first.

Ted came via a GR charity from a young couple divorcing with two very young children. It was the divorce and loss of the family home and not his behaviour that was the issue.

But it became apparent we had to work on some aspects of his behaviour, resource guarding high value things being one of them, as key elements of his training was missed out.

Teddy has honestly been a wonderful addition to mine and my husbands lives. He has been helping to get us through some difficulties in life. He is our ray of sunshine and light in the dark. Your puppy could well be that for another adult or couple without children.
 

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Oh and as someone who did rehome a youngish golden (17 months) I would say that he is very likely to get rehomed within a loving environment that can help him. So you wouldn’t be doing a bad thing by giving him back to the breeder. You’d actually be being very selfless and putting the puppies needs first.

Ted came via a GR charity from a young couple divorcing with two very young children. It was the divorce and loss of the family home and not his behaviour that was the issue.

But it became apparent we had to work on some aspects of his behaviour, resource guarding high value things being one of them, as key elements of his training was missed out.

Teddy has honestly been a wonderful addition to mine and my husbands lives. He has been helping to get us through some difficulties in life. He is our ray of sunshine and light in the dark. Your puppy could well be that for another adult or couple without children.
Thank you for this supportive comment. If we did not have children in our home, I wouldn't have even considered rehoming. He is a wonderful pup. A fast learner, and a complete snuggle bug. He is happy and confident, and when I mention initial food aggression, this was noticed when he had a treat at 8/9 weeks and he growled at me when I tried to remove it. I quickly addressed it, even getting my kids to give and take treats from him, and it solved the problem. However, the recent playdough incident could count as food aggression. I have spent a lot of time training him, and he is an eager and fast learner. He is smart as a whip and he just loves to snuggle. I think he would be an absolute asset in a child free home.
 

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I agree very much with the emerging consensus regarding taking the breeder up on their offer.

My only query is whether the puppy did go from 0 to 10 and bite straight away? It is rare that dogs do.
It is worth having a gentle enquiring conversations with your daughter to figure out if the dog tried to move away, even move his head away, did he growl first?

Rather I think this information is useful for the breeder for his training and rehoming requirements. Not as a justification for keeping him or in any way mitigate the fact that he did bite.

It sounds like you got the ‘top dog’ of the litter that really needed a more controlled boundaried environment from the start to set him up for success. Whereas your family requires a more mellow temperament, but also sounds as if you and your family have learnt from this experience to provide a better set up for another puppy to thrive.

Good luck, it must be an incredibly hard thing for the whole family to go through and decision to make.
Thanks for your response - actually he always gives a growl warning. When my kids try snuggle him and he isn't up for it, he growls. They know to respect this and STOP. As for the play dough incident, I just quickly asked my daughter as it didn't occur to me to ask about this. It is important information. She said she leaned down, took the playdough from his mouth - he did growl and then he jumped up and bit her face. So in this case, she did not listen to and respect his warning. I'm sure we could avoid this in future by respecting these important rules, but it does show that our pup isn't innately patient with children and it would be an ongoing vigilance other kids are in my home.
 

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I can surely understand the heart wrenching decision you must make! But after reading the responses I have to agree that the best thing for your children, and the puppy and you, would be to let him go. Most likely he will be adopted by the family that will be perfect for him. Especially if you return him sooner rather than later so he will be able to bond more easily than if you wait until he is older and his behavior has become harder to train. You will eventually get a perfect puppy for your family, and be so thankful that the experience has made two families happy! Did your breeder choose your puppy for you? They can help you get the one right for your family. They've raised them for 2 months already and know the personalities of the different puppies and can make a better match than you can after a quick visit. Best of luck to you!!

My breeder will be choosing the puppy that we will be bringing home. Waiting is so hard, but I know that she will send us home with a puppy destined to be ours! Now, if he will just hurry up and get born!!!!
 

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Since this happened, rules have been put in place where they aren't allowed to remove objects from his mouth or crate him themselves. I am also far more observant of their interactions, and when I can't be, he is crated. It's also not realistic to have to watch dogs and kids every moment, which does make me consider that rehoming him to a child free home would be the right thing for everyone. Heartbreaking for us, but perhaps he is destined to be with other humans in a child free home.
I realized that my kids were going to have friends and neighbors in and out of our home and I would never be able to ensure that the dog had a good life while somehow kept gated away from the main living areas and kitchen. Every time I tried to figure out how I could have him in our home living a normal pet life with our family, I realized there was truly no way to keep him with us but separate from potential visitors. It was not realistic as a 10 year plan and not fair to him or to us.
 

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I picked him up and he made eye contact, mouthed my fingers ever so gently, and I felt that this guy was the one.
OK - I don't really see mouthyness from puppies as meaning anything more than "itchy teeth", but considering the following that you wrote, kinda ironic that this was the reason why you thought this pup was the one.....
🙂



We have a great relationship and have bonded, and mostly he seems to enjoy my kids, as they do training with him and make him do tricks for treats. However, this week my 6 yr old tried to take her playdough out of his mouth and he bit her in the face, hard. She was scratched up on her cheek and had a split lip. She always treats him well and respectfully. This is completely bewildering to me, and this is not the first incident of aggression, he has growled at and tries to bite them when they give him unwanted snuggles, and when they try to put him in his crate.
He snapped at her when she reached into his mouth to take something that he wanted.

The thing here is that you follow up and describe that this pup will growl and snap at your children when they (lower rung littermates) are bossing him around and hanging on him (in a dog world, a hug that is too long is the same as an alpha pin).

6 year old kids training dogs is cute as a concept but a complete DISASTER in the making! Your kids are not authority figures and they don't have the understanding, training, and strength to work with a dog without an adult closely supervising all the time.

Your kids should not be touching your dog around the mouth when he has something in there - especially if he's already clamping down and resource guarding. First issue is a pup clamping down on little fingers and causing injury that way. Second issue is if the kids gets something away from the pup - it's either flailing to get that item back including mouthing and snapping to get the kids to back off, or it could be a mauling like your daughter had.

In your pup's mind, he's higher on the totem pole than your kids. Your kids have not learned to back off when he gives them the look, when he growls at them, and finally snapping and going after them.

It sounds really bad, but there is still a chance this pup will grow up to be a good dog - but the kids need to learn how to behave around dogs.

I have forbidden my kids to interact with him when I'm not around.
GOOD.

This is what you should have done right from the beginning. No offense, because it happens all over, all the time, many families experience the same. It's the biggest reason why reputable and responsible breeders will not place a puppy in a home with small children - with few exceptions.

Kids are not authority figures to dogs - especially puppies who are growing up and learning what or what not to do. And in a dog's mind, things "to do" are what they naturally want to do or have, and learning what works.

Sort of like a dog who has things repeatedly snatched away and thrown again - learns that it is more fun to play the keep away game.

Puppies who are already growling and air-snapping to get kids to back off - and it works.... they learn that's the thing to do and it gets reinforced. In this case, you have a puppy mauling your daughter's face.

It's fixable, but it is going to take a lot more work on your part, because the kids have to be trained how to behave with the pup. Things like hands away if the pup has something in his mouth. Not crowding the pup when he has something of high value. 1-3 second hugs and kisses, and quickly letting go and sending pup off to play (no grabbing and holding on, or picking up, or flipping the dog around).

It's better if you do not have blind trust that this pup is going to have the manners and sweetness of your bombproof senior dog. It's watching all the time and training the kids and monitoring. It's fair and positive training with the dog.
Sometimes these "aggressions" or "dominance" doesn't stem from the pup thinking he's Bruce Willis or whatever. Sometimes these aggressions stem from a pup who is insecure or fear aggressive. He's trying to clear his space.

Owners who respond by resource guarding furniture and constantly barking at and rough handling pups.... can make matters worse.

Stuff like you describe with your pup - they won't get fixed with puppy classes. And I suspect that if you do not get down to reasons why they happen/happened - it will repeat itself with the next puppy.

You need an experienced trainer working directly with you and your family and helping you learn how to understand and handle your pup so knock on wood, in a few months or a year or so - he settles down and you completely forget how terrible he was a puppy.

With your kids - knock on wood they are OK. They should know not to ever take anything from a dog's mouth. As well, to reiterate - they are not authority figures and should not be the ones doing any actual training with the pup (tricks like teaching sit, down, etc - that's different). Actual training like teaching "kennel", "leave it", and "give" - that's on you. Not the little kids.

My mom used to say that golden puppies were puppies from hell - because of the mouthing stuff. <= That was her description back then when we were a lot more inexperienced and made mistakes with the pups back then. Those first 2 golden pups taught us more than anything on how to handle situations and which mistakes not to make again. And I will say that the pups after that right through the dogs I have now - my mom doesn't call them puppies from hell. And she can't believe she ever said that.

The last 5 goldens we raised here - none of them have growled or raised their lips or anything at people. I DO believe that some of that is genetic (nature), because I own father and sons now, and the 2 dogs before them shared very similar bloodlines with the ones I have now.

That said, I know of enough people who have unfortunately had terrible experiences with pups out of the blue. That's sound bloodlines and well bred dogs... and they've had puppies snapping at kids especially. So there is some point that nurture enters the equation.

What you may have experienced - based on what you describe with the kids getting growled and snapped at while they were allowed to do things with or to the dog.... it's definitely a case of likely both nature and nurture causing problems.

You could return the pup now - and he's young enough for the next home to fix the problems with him with less risk (no kids around). Or you and family can get on the same line as far as dog proofing the household.

My opinion is if the way of solving problems is not interacting with the dog, crating 24/7, resource guarding over furniture, and so on - that dog is better off in a new home.

Based on the "puppies from hell" that we owned... those first two goldens.... they were beloved members of the family. I think some of that is the reason why things were allowed to settle down vs the dogs getting worse as they got older. They had a secure home and they were not bullied by their people. There was an understanding instead - including any "tensing" or change of expression with the dogs being respected.

The dogs I own - are family dogs. They sleep in beds, they sit in laps, etc... there is no connection between sharing furniture and developing aggression. That is one of the things which some crazy trainers out there like to assert - and it is little more than people responding to resource guarding by resourcing guarding back at the dog. It's ridiculous and found to stress an already stressed and insecure dog more than it already is!.
 

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One thing you did very well through all of this was to pick a very good breeder! Now, follow their advice, return the pup! Many breeders would not offer that option...
 

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OK - I don't really see mouthyness from puppies as meaning anything more than "itchy teeth", but considering the following that you wrote, kinda ironic that this was the reason why you thought this pup was the one.....
🙂





He snapped at her when she reached into his mouth to take something that he wanted.

The thing here is that you follow up and describe that this pup will growl and snap at your children when they (lower rung littermates) are bossing him around and hanging on him (in a dog world, a hug that is too long is the same as an alpha pin).

6 year old kids training dogs is cute as a concept but a complete DISASTER in the making! Your kids are not authority figures and they don't have the understanding, training, and strength to work with a dog without an adult closely supervising all the time.

Your kids should not be touching your dog around the mouth when he has something in there - especially if he's already clamping down and resource guarding. First issue is a pup clamping down on little fingers and causing injury that way. Second issue is if the kids gets something away from the pup - it's either flailing to get that item back including mouthing and snapping to get the kids to back off, or it could be a mauling like your daughter had.

In your pup's mind, he's higher on the totem pole than your kids. Your kids have not learned to back off when he gives them the look, when he growls at them, and finally snapping and going after them.

It sounds really bad, but there is still a chance this pup will grow up to be a good dog - but the kids need to learn how to behave around dogs.



GOOD.

This is what you should have done right from the beginning. No offense, because it happens all over, all the time, many families experience the same. It's the biggest reason why reputable and responsible breeders will not place a puppy in a home with small children - with few exceptions.

Kids are not authority figures to dogs - especially puppies who are growing up and learning what or what not to do. And in a dog's mind, things "to do" are what they naturally want to do or have, and learning what works.

Sort of like a dog who has things repeatedly snatched away and thrown again - learns that it is more fun to play the keep away game.

Puppies who are already growling and air-snapping to get kids to back off - and it works.... they learn that's the thing to do and it gets reinforced. In this case, you have a puppy mauling your daughter's face.

It's fixable, but it is going to take a lot more work on your part, because the kids have to be trained how to behave with the pup. Things like hands away if the pup has something in his mouth. Not crowding the pup when he has something of high value. 1-3 second hugs and kisses, and quickly letting go and sending pup off to play (no grabbing and holding on, or picking up, or flipping the dog around).

It's better if you do not have blind trust that this pup is going to have the manners and sweetness of your bombproof senior dog. It's watching all the time and training the kids and monitoring. It's fair and positive training with the dog.
Sometimes these "aggressions" or "dominance" doesn't stem from the pup thinking he's Bruce Willis or whatever. Sometimes these aggressions stem from a pup who is insecure or fear aggressive. He's trying to clear his space.

Owners who respond by resource guarding furniture and constantly barking at and rough handling pups.... can make matters worse.

Stuff like you describe with your pup - they won't get fixed with puppy classes. And I suspect that if you do not get down to reasons why they happen/happened - it will repeat itself with the next puppy.

You need an experienced trainer working directly with you and your family and helping you learn how to understand and handle your pup so knock on wood, in a few months or a year or so - he settles down and you completely forget how terrible he was a puppy.

With your kids - knock on wood they are OK. They should know not to ever take anything from a dog's mouth. As well, to reiterate - they are not authority figures and should not be the ones doing any actual training with the pup (tricks like teaching sit, down, etc - that's different). Actual training like teaching "kennel", "leave it", and "give" - that's on you. Not the little kids.

My mom used to say that golden puppies were puppies from hell - because of the mouthing stuff. <= That was her description back then when we were a lot more inexperienced and made mistakes with the pups back then. Those first 2 golden pups taught us more than anything on how to handle situations and which mistakes not to make again. And I will say that the pups after that right through the dogs I have now - my mom doesn't call them puppies from hell. And she can't believe she ever said that.

The last 5 goldens we raised here - none of them have growled or raised their lips or anything at people. I DO believe that some of that is genetic (nature), because I own father and sons now, and the 2 dogs before them shared very similar bloodlines with the ones I have now.

That said, I know of enough people who have unfortunately had terrible experiences with pups out of the blue. That's sound bloodlines and well bred dogs... and they've had puppies snapping at kids especially. So there is some point that nurture enters the equation.

What you may have experienced - based on what you describe with the kids getting growled and snapped at while they were allowed to do things with or to the dog.... it's definitely a case of likely both nature and nurture causing problems.

You could return the pup now - and he's young enough for the next home to fix the problems with him with less risk (no kids around). Or you and family can get on the same line as far as dog proofing the household.

My opinion is if the way of solving problems is not interacting with the dog, crating 24/7, resource guarding over furniture, and so on - that dog is better off in a new home.

Based on the "puppies from hell" that we owned... those first two goldens.... they were beloved members of the family. I think some of that is the reason why things were allowed to settle down vs the dogs getting worse as they got older. They had a secure home and they were not bullied by their people. There was an understanding instead - including any "tensing" or change of expression with the dogs being respected.

The dogs I own - are family dogs. They sleep in beds, they sit in laps, etc... there is no connection between sharing furniture and developing aggression. That is one of the things which some crazy trainers out there like to assert - and it is little more than people responding to resource guarding by resourcing guarding back at the dog. It's ridiculous and found to stress an already stressed and insecure dog more than it already is!.
Thank you! I'm grateful for your knowledgeable advice. Although the overwhelming consensus is to rehome the pup, and I am leaning in that direction, my husband is opposed. I have reached out to the breeder to discuss a timeline, and I will be having an emergency veterinary behaviourist consultation soon, which will hopefully confirm the best way forward. My online research has been an eye opener for me - one can never be complacent with even the most gentle dog around children. Covid has provided an unusual silver lining in that there will be no other kids passing through our home for the next few months at least, so it may be that we are going to give it some time with strict rules and the help of an experienced trainer. The new rules over the last few days have already been preventative. If they were implemented from the start, we may never have seen the "kid aggression" side to our pup. I regret not being armed with this knowledge sooner. We have had no incidents of growling since, as pup has had no reason to. He is being respected and we are certainly doing our best to train, love and nurture him.
 
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