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I ♥ Bailey and Annie!
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As most of you know I'm having a bit of trouble with my pup. I'm having a behavior specialist coming out hopefully by Monday. Two of my girls have the h1n1 virus, so I have to wait until they are well. I'm also signing Bailey up for obedience class with a different behavior specialist and she does obedience along with behavior, my 6 year old will be taking Bailey to that class. I'm so glad I found her website.

What I'm trying to figure out here is if Bailey has dominance issues with my daughter or is it fear or possibly both? As you know she is growling and it has gone as far as snapping at my 6 year old.

Bailey is not always growling at Madison. Most of the time she is fine with her as I have Madison mostly ignoring her. Last night when Bailey growled at her, Bailey was on my lap. My two youngest were playing and their voices were louder then normal, but not too bad. They got a little close to me and Bailey growled. Off the lap and into the kennel Bailey went.

When Bailey snapped at Madison, she was two feet away and on the other side of my husband while he was eating breakfast. Madison was ignoring Bailey then and out of the blue was one quick snap with a loud growl under the table. The weird thing is, that Bailey dribbled pee under there too when it happened. This happened last Monday.

Usually when Bailey does growl, Madison is getting too close and Bailey is curled up trying to rest. It's been about once a day that she growls at her. It doesn't matter what time of day.

What I don't understand is yesterday when Madison got home from school, she got a wonderful happy greeting from Bailey. Tail wagging, licks on the hands. Bailey is giving mixed signals here. Bailey even brought Madison a toy to play fetch with.

Bailey has only growled at one other person/child. That would be Madison's friend. It happened about a month ago when this child sat on the couch next to Bailey, she is also 6 years old. I was quite surprised.

I've been having Madison hand feed Bailey at all meals, but they both been on the floor. I'm going to have Madison sit on a chair when Bailey is on the floor.

I'm very nervous about my dog and her relationship with my 6 year old child. What steps do I need to be doing now? Do I need to go out and buy a muzzle for Bailey until these issues are resolved? I know this could be a potentially dangerous situation and it needs to be addressed immediatly. I want Bailey to forever to be in our lives, but I want it to be a safe and healthy relationship.

When Bailey does growl at Madison how do I handle it?
 

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I wish i could give you some advice but unfortunately i don't know what else to tell you. Sounds like you are doing everything you know of to keep order in your house between your pup and your daughter. I hope the behavior specialist will be able to help you out! Good Luck!
 

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I ♥ Bailey and Annie!
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is only happening with Madison. Bailey is fine with her 8 and 15 year old sisters.
 

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First of all, get Bailey off the furniture and off your lap. She is physically elevated in those places and that places her above Madison.

Second of all, there is a reason there is a phrase that says "let sleeping dogs lie". Dogs can sleep very deeply and become startled when awakened, which can trigger the fight or flight behavior.

I don't necessarily consider what she is doing as dominance or fear aggression. She sounds like she is being quite pushy and since your youngest is not much bigger than her, she figures she is higher up in the pack than Madison.

My lab/golden was very pushy at that age. She would growl at me when I made her get off the sofa or made her do anything else she didn't want to do. She slept in the bed with my son and would roar and growl at him if he rolled over and bumped her during the night. We demoted her. No furniture privileges at all. Sit and wait to eat until released, sit at the door and wait until released to go outside, no kitchen privileges at all. When we are in the kitchen, no dogs allowed. Plain and simple. Even my foster pups learn that one very quickly.

Fast forward to even less than a year later and all of her pushy behavior stopped. She is now 8 1/2 and she would not even dream of growling at me now. I used to worry that she might actually bite me (now I know, looking back that she wouldn't have).
 

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It is hard to give good advice without watching the pup closely. However, it is really important that she doesnt come to associate Madison with getting in trouble rather than growling/snapping with getting in trouble. dogs can't always figure out what humans are reacting too Your timing needs to be excellent, so that the dog doest start to think about it backwards- like that when Madison is around, humans sometimes get groucy, lol. Until an expert comes, I would try to redirct that behavior immediately, by deciding what you would like Bailey to do as an alternative to growling. Teach her a phrase with a clicker and some treats like "WITH ME". Then practice with her so that every times she comes and sits front when she hear's With ME" she gets a party of wonderful rewards. Then have Madison approach , and practice WITH ME, until Bailey tends to go to you when she sees Madison. I know this is less than ideal bc obviously it is no fun for Madison, but it might make things better if she is fearful by giving her a structured acceptable response. Sorry you have to deal with this- i would be worried too.

I think the idea that she is being a pushy is plausible too. Snapping is extreme though.
 

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It's hard to tell from the description, but it sounds like fear more than aggressiveness. You can tell a lot from body language. Is Bailey going towards Madison in these situations? Is she very still and giving Madison a hard stare before growling or snapping? Are her hackles raised? Those would be signs of insecure aggression.

Or, does she look away first, back up at all, or crouch? Those would be signs of a more fearful, appeasing body language.

It's possible for a confused pup to be pushy and bratty one moment and fearful the next, particularly if she's experienced any harsh "corrections." If she doesn't understand how to control her safety and house resources like space and food, she may be looking to assert some control. It's also possible that Bailey is responding to something you don't understand: Madison may have accidentally stepped on a paw, hugged her in a scary way, or done something else that made a big impression on her.

The dribbling of urine during a snap makes me think there might be a health problem here; that's a very strange behavior. If Bailey is experiencing internal discomfort because she's sick or injured in some subtle way, she may be associating the discomfort with Madison, and that would explain the erratic behavior.

Even if you can't figure out the cause, you can certainly help by showing Bailey that Madison is a source of good things and calm fun. LJilly's suggestion to create a calm, structured response is a great one. It's probably safest if you do it yourself and have Bailey come to you, but once the behavior is established, you can have Madison execute it identically to the way you do it, and she can practice calming and rewarding Bailey. I don't see how that could hurt, and it could very well eliminate the problem.
 

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I need to clarify that the dogs are not allowed in the kitchen when we are fixing human food. They are allowed in there when I am fixing their dinners or getting their meds together. They do understand the difference.

Jasmine also has a tendency to "guard" my husband, especially when he is eating (we eat in the livingroom). She has snapped at the cats and a couple of fosters in the past when they have gotten too close to him. So I have her get up and move about 5-7 feet away from him while we are eating. Every night she lies right at his feet and I have to tell her to move. She is quite persistent. LOL

Just to illustrate the difference between a pushy Jasmine and a polite Jasper, Jasper will not come into the livingroom while we eat. He lies in the doorway or even in another room. He wouldn't dream of begging for our food. We didn't train him to be that way, it's just that he is a very polite dog who doesn't have a pushy bone in his body.
 

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From all that you wrote, here and in other posts, my guess is she is afraid of Madison. Since it doesn't happen every time she is near Madison it is some movement made by Madison that triggers her fear. Now that she fears Madison being in your lap can give her the confidence to be bold and act out to keep Madison at a distance.

It doesn't always have to be one thing.... I agree with the poster in the other thread that went back as far as the other dog grabbing her on the neck. Then Madison grabbing her around the neck attempting to pull her out of the crate. The girls being loud and playing at a higher rate of arousal. All of these things could have contributed to her becoming fearful. Then she focused on some movement that Madison made in the time she was afraid and this became her trigger. Her age could also be a factor as she could be in a puppy fear stage.

I like LJilly's and TippyKayak suggestions. Fostermom also has a good suggestion about keeping her out of your lap and off the furniture right now. And complete supervision when she is anywhere near Madison.

I just think there was a perfect storm. :( I think having the behavorist come and see the dynamics along with you telling her/him the complete history of what has gone on will give the behavorist enough to give you the tools to change the dynamics. Bailey is a young pup and she is lucky she has you. Nicole from all of your posts since you got here I see a great dog mom who is willing to do the work using the tools given and willing to use management when needed so I truly think you guys will get past this. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Is Bailey going towards Madison in these situations?
Only once. When her and Madison were in the kitchen inbetween my husband. Otherwise not.

Is she very still and giving Madison a hard stare before growling or snapping?
I'm pretty sure not, but I'm not 100% sure. Usually she crouches down and sometimes turns her head.

Are her hackles raised? Those would be signs of insecure aggression.
Nope, not at all.

Or, does she look away first, back up at all, or crouch? Those would be signs of a more fearful, appeasing body language.
From what I have seen Bailey lowers her head and then growls. I'm not positive is she is staring in the eyes or not. Sometimes her head will turn. Bailey has been in a laying position, but has never been asleep.


Bailey is responding to something you don't understand: Madison may have accidentally stepped on a paw, hugged her in a scary way, or done something else that made a big impression on her.
It started when Madison went inside Bailey crate and grabbed her by the neck. Bailey was bitten by a dog on one of our walks a while back and it was a tramatic experience for her. We get approached by dogs on our walks in the neighborhood and these dogs are challenging Bailey and circling us. I end up spraying these dogs with pepper spray.

The dribbling of urine during a snap makes me think there might be a health problem here; that's a very strange behavior. If Bailey is experiencing internal discomfort because she's sick or injured in some subtle way, she may be associating the discomfort with Madison, and that would explain the erratic behavior.
I just brought Bailey to the vet's a couple days ago to rule this out. The vets suggested I have Bailey on an anti anxiety medication, but he won't give me the script until I have her checked out by his behaviorist he recommended. I found another behaviorist through the internet that lives closer to my house.

Even if you can't figure out the cause, you can certainly help by showing Bailey that Madison is a source of good things and calm fun. LJilly's suggestion to create a calm, structured response is a great one. It's probably safest if you do it yourself and have Bailey come to you, but once the behavior is established, you can have Madison execute it identically to the way you do it, and she can practice calming and rewarding Bailey. I don't see how that could hurt, and it could very well eliminate the problem.
I'm trying this now. I also have Madison hand feed Bailey and I sprinkle a tiny bit of bacon drippings on her food to make it extra special.
 

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I ♥ Bailey and Annie!
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all for your help!!! As of yesterday Bailey is not allowed on the bed or couch. I have put her back into her crate at night for sleeping. I do not want her to think it's okay to sleep on the couch. All her meals are going to be hand fed until her behavior is resolved. Right now I'm focusing on Madison feeding her and I will have Sydney and Alexis feed her later by hand.

The dribbling of urine during a snap makes me think there might be a health problem here; that's a very strange behavior. If Bailey is experiencing internal discomfort because she's sick or injured in some subtle way, she may be associating the discomfort with Madison, and that would explain the erratic behavior.
What do you think could be the cause? I did take her to the vets two days ago. Maybe I need to Bailey to another vet's to rule this out.
 

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Only once. When her and Madison were in the kitchen inbetween my husband. Otherwise not.

Usually she crouches down and sometimes turns her head.

From what I have seen Bailey lowers her head and then growls. I'm not positive is she is staring in the eyes or not. Sometimes her head will turn. Bailey has been in a laying position, but has never been asleep.

It started when Madison went inside Bailey crate and grabbed her by the neck. Bailey was bitten by a dog on one of our walks a while back and it was a tramatic experience for her. We get approached by dogs on our walks in the neighborhood and these dogs are challenging Bailey and circling us. I end up spraying these dogs with pepper spray.

I just brought Bailey to the vet's a couple days ago to rule this out. The vets suggested I have Bailey on an anti anxiety medication, but he won't give me the script until I have her checked out by his behaviorist he recommended. I found another behaviorist through the internet that lives closer to my house.

I'm trying this now. I also have Madison hand feed Bailey and I sprinkle a tiny bit of bacon drippings on her food to make it extra special.
It really sounds like fear from your description. Avoiding eye contact shows nervousness and feelings of intimidation. For whatever reason, Madison seems threatening.

The hand feeding is probably a great idea; is there some way to train a behavior (like sit) that you can teach to Bailey and then have Madison execute identically under your supervision?

Perhaps (and I feel compelled to point out this is speculation based on your description, not advice I'm fully confident is correct) Madison feels threatening or Bailey is a bit insecure and anxious and Madison is currently the focal point for the anxiety. In that case, it may help for Madison to become a source of food and calm fun. Given that Bailey has snapped, I'd only use behaviors you've positively trained yourself and that Madison can imitate in your presence. Madison and all the kids need to behave very, very calmly around Bailey; no huge noises, no running right by her, no eye contact, and no hugs. If she's insecure, you need to teach her that she really does have security, from every family member.
 

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Does Madison get afraid of Bailey at times? If Bailey senses that Madison is afraid of her, she may react that way. Whether it is through body language or smell.

I have also been told that a dog has a very hard time interpretting a child's body language.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The hand feeding is probably a great idea; is there some way to train a behavior (like sit) that you can teach to Bailey and then have Madison execute identically under your supervision?
I have Madison tell Bailey "okay" after she puts out each piece. We Bailey and Madison were on the floor doing this, Bailey was very relaxed in a laying down position. She took the kibbles out of Madison's hand gently. I also have Madison tell Bailey wait for a few seconds then give her the okay. It was very calm and peaceful.

Today I had Madison sit in the chair in the living room to feed her. Bailey was calm at first, listening to the "wait" and "okay" cues, but was anxious after a few pieces of food was given. Bailey stood up put her head over Madisons legs and went after the food in her hand quickly. Bailey even tried to get the food out of the bowl, which was in Madison's lap. I made Bailey calm down a bit before continuing, but it seems she is more anxious with Madison on the chair.
 

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I ♥ Bailey and Annie!
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Does Madison get afraid of Bailey at times? If Bailey senses that Madison is afraid of her, she may react that way. Whether it is through body language or smell.

I have also been told that a dog has a very hard time interpretting a child's body language.
Yes, but Madison is very good on hiding her emotions from me. She will sometimes drop the food that she is handing to Bailey. I ask Madison if she is afraid, but she is always telling me that she is not.
 

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I had a fear aggressive dog, and had two behaviorist test him to tell me. They will be able to tell almost right away. Good luck. The one we ended up working with was awesome, and worked wonders with my dog immediately. He was afraid of anybody that was afraid of him, so he would react first. It would be based on body language and the smell that people emit when they are scared.

Keep us up to date. Before I found those two behaviorists, I called about 5 others. They recommended I get rid of him, without even looking at him, so not all behaviorists are the same. The one I went with was the one recommended by the vet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I just got off of the phone with another behavior specialist that offers obedience trianing. I may end up using her instead! With our limited 10 minute phone call she had explained a lot to me. I don't know if I even have it all registered in my head. She says that Bailey has some underlying anxiety issues that is causing her fear and she is right! They need to be addressed as well as my child. She said that puppies and dogs continue to learn through out their lives and they have different stages in their lives that influnence them the most, especially during the fear period. She also stated that if Bailey were to be a true aggressive dog that I would not know until she has fully matured, which is around 2 years and that my family and I need to change our lifestyle as far as raising our puppy as most aggression is learned. She will come out to our house for approx two hours. She will then tell each of us how to deal with Bailey's anxietys after she evaluates her. I will update her through the phone and she will be able to guide me on how Bailey's reactions to our new lifestyle. This will cost me approx $200 for the home visit, maybe a little bit more due to me living way out there in the sticks. Here is her website. What do you think? Linda also says I need to desensitize her from my 6 year old right away. http://www.lindabrodzik.animaltrainers.com/index.html
 

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The dribbling of urine during a snap makes me think there might be a health problem here; that's a very strange behavior. If Bailey is experiencing internal discomfort because she's sick or injured in some subtle way, she may be associating the discomfort with Madison, and that would explain the erratic behavior.

<<What do you think could be the cause? I did take her to the vets two days ago. Maybe I need to Bailey to another vet's to rule this out. >>


Sounds like submissive urination; fear based. Of course I haven't seen the dog, but from everything you've posted, it sounds like Bailey is very anxious. There may also be some guarding of resources -- places and people -- added to the mix, too. Her owner (you), her crate, under the table in the room where feedings happen, etc. Also, it's not abnormal at all for a dog to appear to give "mixed signals" by being fine in some instances and not fine in others. Dogs are context-specific, so there are certain situations that "trigger" the anxiety and others that do not.
 

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In her bio I didn't see anything about a degree in Applied Animal Behavior. I may be way off base but I think she is just a trainer. IMO, a behaviorist would have a PHD with her name.
 

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I just looked quickly -- I didn't see anything about what methods she uses. Is she a positive reinforcement trainer? When you ask her, if she says yes, ask her to explain what she means. Some people call themselves P-R trainers b/c they say, "good dog!" after slamming them on a choke chain.

I don't see any credentials, so it looks like she's calling herself a behaviorist b/c she deals with behavior. (Everything a dog does is behavior!) Doesn't mean she's not experienced enough to help you, just pointing that out.
 

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... BTW... nothing worng with being "just a trainer" IMO, if the "trainer" is truly skilled and experienced in the issue. Some of the most talented behavior mod people I know are just "trainers" who have spent years educating themselves in the finer points of OC and CC and can skillfully use the techniques to address a wide array of complicated behavior problems.
 
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