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Another problem

January 31st, 2005, 05:00 PM
OK, I have another problem with Bailey the St. Bernard (approx. 13 wks. & probably 25-30 lbs.!), but this is a big one!

I still live @ home w/ my parents... I know, how pathetic! :o Anyway, I have 6 brothers & sisters that are all older than me & have all moved out. But, most of them still come over for Sunday dinner & there are usually @ least 3-5 kids (3 yrs. & under)there, my neices & nephews. When we first got Bailey, he loved the little kids & would lick their hands, etc. But, now, he growls @ them & tries to nip @ them, but not in a playful way. He has been stepped on by them before (seems like any animal I get likes to lay right in the middle of the floor!) but, an adult can step on him (accidentally of course) and he just looks @ whoever did it... Doesn't care a bit. For a couple of weeks, he only did this when they would accidentally step on him, but now if they just get close to him he does it. What does this mean?

5-5 1/2 days out of the week it is just me & my parents at home w/ him. (Actually my parents are probably w/ him more than me simply b/c I'm @ work 40 hrs. a week.) There usually aren't little kids there more than maybe 1 1/2 days out of a week, so could this just be b/c he's not used to the little kids? Is he intimidated by them? They are all very loud & obnoxious most of the time... I've said sometimes I wouldn't blame him if he bit them, I want to bite them too :p ... Most of them need it... LOL We've finally just started putting up in my room or outside when the kids are there... I hate doing this, this is his house, he shouldn't have to be put up! Is this a bad idea or just encouraging the behavior? I thought maybe he'd realize why he was being put up & learn to behave, but probably not.

I have to do something though. I will have to either move or lose Bailey if he seriously hurts some one b/c my dad will not tolerate that. He had a pet stock dog when he was a little older than me that he had to have put down b/c he bit one of my sisters (he had 2 kids @ the time), it was hard for him to do, but like I said, he won't tolerate it. I will do whatever it takes to keep Bailey & stay where I'm at though... Any suggestions?

PS~ We live in the country & we're about 2 hours (1 way) from any trainers, so if there's anything I could do by myself, that would be great! :thumbs up

Lucky Rescue
January 31st, 2005, 05:26 PM
For a couple of weeks, he only did this when they would accidentally step on him, but now if they just get close to him he does it. What does this mean?

And how many times has he been stepped on? Let's say someone in a red jacket kicked you every time they saw you...wouldn't take long until just seeing someone in red made you scared, defensive and angry would it?

I thought maybe he'd realize why he was being put up & learn to behave
I'm not sure what you mean? You said he was wonderful with kids until they started stepping on him. What he has now learned is that kids are not to trusted and that's not his fault since he learned it from the kids themselves. I am being mean to say this, merely factual: This is your fault and Bailey should not be punished for this. His behavior is perfectly natural and normal under the circumstances.

NO puppy should never be hurt in any way by anyone. If people can't stop stepping on him, then watch him more closely and get him out of the way where lots of people are walking. If you have to get him out of the room, try putting him behind a gate where he can see and hear everyone and let him out when people are sitting or relaxing.

Your puppy now sounds as though he doesn't trust kids, with good reason. You need to start over with him having positive and fun interactions with kids.

January 31st, 2005, 06:49 PM
You're not being mean Lucky, you're being realistic. If I was a dog and kids stepped on me all the time I'd probably want them out of my way too--and never have a care to play with them.

Just like with babies, it is the adults responsibility to protect their young--this is the same with Bailey. It was his mommy's job to protect him.

February 1st, 2005, 04:06 AM
I agree 100% with you LR... :thumbs up

And no,you are not mean in anyway. :)

If this is not corrected with Bailey ASAP,you will end up with a 200 lb St Bernard who hates all kids.And we know this is a great breed that is loyal and loveable.At least all the ones I know are.

This is where teaching the kids to respect and be careful with an animal comes in.This is what I taught my daughter.And I had a 4 year old GSD when I had my daughter.Can you imagine what would have happened if I didn't?

Just remember,Bailey needs to be socialized with kids,so teach them how to respect and not hurt Bailey.This is not just the job of the parents,it's yours too.And I have taught my neices and nephews this also.When they were younger of course. :D

February 1st, 2005, 08:40 AM
I agree with you as well Lucky. Kids are scarey enough but when they start hurting Bailey I know it is not on purpose, but it is not that hard to see a Saint even as puppies they are bigger than a lot of full grown dogs. If you don't teach the kids to be more respectful of him someone is going to get bit and sorry but it will not be the dogs fault. I had a similar situation with a dog who loved kids but grew to dislike them because of things exactly like this. Luckily for me I did not have kids and was not ever around very many. But you obviously love Bailey and need to address the problem ASAP. Good luck

February 2nd, 2005, 11:45 AM
This is not as hard as you might think...What you need to do is change Bailey's mindset of what happens when kids are around.

Keep her at your side at all times, b.c it sounds like she's nervous (rightly so) and would appreciate it. Make sure to make eyecontact with her often. Maybe even run through a 5-10 minute obedience session so that she's "in the mood" to learn. As an excercise,don't give her much notice before the kids are to arrive. When they do,start with your basic obedience commands and have the kids play nearby,NOT with her though,not just yet--keep her on short leash if you're more at ease--and give her lots of attention, backrubs, and treats. You could limit the attention you pay her after they leave as that she slowly gets the picture that good things happen to her when those "obnoxious varmints" (just kidding btw :D ) are around.

Do you think that this is too chancy judging by her already demonstrated behaviour?

February 3rd, 2005, 01:24 PM
LR, I understand the analogy about the red jacket, but...

#1. He may have been stepped on by kids 3-5 times. The kids don't step on him on purpose. They'll be running around & accidentally fall backwards, etc... (We have never let any child mistreat animals @ my house, that is a no-no!) We try to watch them closely, but sometimes you just can't have your eyes on 2 things @ once.

#2. He has also been stepped on by me (when he was trying to walk right in front of me), my mom (same thing), and other grown-ups... he doesn't mind at all when this happens & doesn't act aggressive towards us. Can anyone explain this? ~I understand why he doesn't mind w/ me, b/c I'm the one who does everything for/with him... I feed him, bathe him, play w/ him (more than anyone else), etc., etc... I even mess w/ his food while he's eating so he won't get food aggression, I pull his ears & tail a little rougher than usual when we're playing, like a kid would, etc., etc...

#3. I agree w/ "it's not Bailey's fault", but that makes no difference to a lot of ppl. If he ever seriously bites anyone, I will have to have him put down, there is no doubt about it. I cringe even thinking about this, but there's no way I could keep a child aggressive dog, there are just too many kids around (w/o my consent :o ). **twinmommy, I like the comment about the "obnoxious varmints"... I agree most of the time, so no offense taken. :p Plus, you are pretty much the only one who gave me any advice what-so-ever, besides just tell me I'm a bad dog owner. So, thank you! I appreciate it! :thumbs up

Mona_b: "Just remember,Bailey needs to be socialized with kids,so teach them how to respect and not hurt Bailey." -------- How do I do this w/o chancing the kids getting hurt? He is just a puppy, but a big one that could do harm if he barely tried.

I do appreciate everyone commenting on my problem, but right now I really need advice, not critism. Thanks! (I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be rude.)

February 4th, 2005, 09:24 AM
I think this problem exists on 3 levels. The first is that children's behavior is unpredicatable and their energy is erratic, and Bailey cannot trust his own judgement on what they will do next, so it makes him warey and nervous which can translate to insecurity and then to aggression. The second is that he does not respect the children and sees them as other puppies who he has to protect himself from. The 3rd is that he doesn't feel that any adult in the house is looking out to protect him from these alien invaders.
So we would advise you to have him on the leash attached to you when the children visit. This way you can show him that you are watching out for his safety (giving him confidence in his leader), you can keep the children at a safe distance from him (also showing him that you have things under control), and you are there to correct any bad behavior on his part and reward the good choices.
Work him for at least ten minutes before the kids arrive. This gets him connected to you and starts releasing calming chemicals in his brain before they even arrive.
Try not to act fearful of the kids being near him, but rather that you are in control of them and the dog. So he thinks "wow, you are the best leader ever and, boy do I feel safe with you! You have everyone under control and I don't have to worry anymore."
You can also start to create healthy interaction between everyone. Ask him to do jobs (sit, down, shake etc) around the children and reward him with lots of love and praise. Have the older children start to participate in the jobs. Have a child ask him to sit, then while you hold the child on your lap, you reach forward and stroke his head. Eventually the child will reach forward with your hand and then just the child. This places you in control of everyones safety and behavior choices. But you have to be fast enough to sense when he is feeling unsure and respond appropriately. Do not 'coo' at him when he looks nervous. Give him another job to do instead and be firm in your tone. Get his mind on you and off of the kids.
The other piece of this is the opportunity for you to be heard in such a large family where you are the youngest. This is your shot to say that you need some respect for you and your dog. It could sound like this..."Everyone I need your help. I feel responsible for Bailey, and I need your help to make sure that things go well so that we are all happy to have him in this family. The kids are so young that I can't ask them to understand what we are doing here. I am going to take responsibility for teaching Bailey to feel safe around the kids, but I need your help and understanding too. Can we all please try harder to watch the children around the dog while I am doing my part training him? I think if we all work hard for the next few weeks (months) we can look forward to years of having Bailey be a great dog with kids."

Does that help?

February 8th, 2005, 08:53 AM
Thank you tenderfoot. Yes, that helps! I have actually already started the leash thing & I got a muzzle just to be on the safe side. I figured after I thought he was feeling more comfortable around the kids & less intimidated (or whatever) I would take the muzzle off w/ him still on a leash & see what happens.

The only thing that isn't really going to work is the thing you said about having the older kids help in telling him to sit, etc... He likes the older kids. (I have nephews/nieces from 9 up, then from 4 down. The 4 yr. old could probably do it, but he's a terror & you have to wait til he's ready to do something before he'll cooperate (sometimes I think he needs to be in obedience training... LOL) He likes the kids from 9 up... it's the others he can't get along w/. I could use the 1 1/2 yr. old... He loves animals & wants to play w/ Bailey so bad, but he can't talk plain enough for Bailey to know what he's saying, + he looks Bailey straight in the eye & I've been told that this was telling Bailey that he was challenging him... Is this true? When we first got him, if we did this he would bark, but we broke him of that just by telling him "NO!", now I can stare at him for quite a while & he'll finally just look away (I've heard this is a good thing BTW, it shows he knows who's in charge(?))

Anyway, thanks so much for your help! I really appreciate it! :thumbs up

February 8th, 2005, 10:28 AM
Even at 13 weeks he should be more controlable. I would definately have him in obedience classes. But it is really as much about the family learning how to be with him in an effective manner.