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My Golden will be 2 years old in March, we bought him as a puppy for our son who is in a wheelcha¡r. However, we have a problem which is ever more alarming - he is aggressive towards other children. It started happening over a year ago and we always strongly correct him with a strong "no". At first we thought it may have been something territorial but recently I took him for a walk and stopped in on a friend. My friend's daughter went to stroke him and he growled and went to bite. I live in Argentina and know of no behavioral specialists nearby, so we are kind of on our own. Obviously, we never leave him alone with young children. With adults he behaves himself, although from time to time will jump up to greet but never growls.

The million dollar question is whether this behaviour is reversible? What can we do?
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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It goes without saying that no dog should be allowed alone with children under 10-12...even dogs that 'like' children. Children often dont have the knowledge, ability to read basic dog body-language and personal self-control to be safe around dogs unsupervised..... Even dogs that 'like' children.

Dogs that have learned how to manipulate children with their teeth...IMHO can be rehabilitated to 'tolerate' children undersupervision.....however, again in my opinion and personal experience, they dont generally learn to 'love', accept and truly relax around them. In times of stress, they easily fall back to the behaviors they learned first. "this makes me nervous or fearful...use my teeth and it will stop."

Often times you can find the dogs triggers....and, to a certain extent, control the dog's interactions around children (for example..if the dog bites when food or toys are present, then you can remove the food or toys. Or if children that reach over the of their head or touch their tail/ears cause them to react...then you can interceed and stop the children from touching the dog....)

HOWEVER....there is so much that you, as the handler, can not control...even if you are present...like the behavior of the children that can be the triggers for the dog.
 

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Chances are the erratic movements of other children are overly stimulating and exciting to your puppy. This is a common problem with most pups... they get excited and they use their teeth in play. Where I think this excitement may have crossed the line is likely with the harsh corrections you admit to using in the past. Your dog has learned that when children are around bad things happen and you get angry. So a child reaches for him, and he growls in an attempt to get the child to back away and avoid the bad thing.

The answer here is to change your dog's associations with children. He has to learn that kids bring good things when he is calm. This will require a regimented desensitization program, starting with your dog quite a distance away from children and gradually moving closer, eventually to the point of interacting with them. There is no overnight fix, and in the meantime you will have to really restrict his interactions with children besides your son. There are some trainers here who can give you much more detailed information than I can (flyingquizzini comes to mind). You could also try doing a search here on the forum, as I'm pretty sure there's some good information about this type of thing lying around here somewhere. If you're having problems finding info, just let me know and I'll dig some up. But it's well past my bedtime right now... so I appologize for my current laziness.

Julie and Jersey
 
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