October 9th, 2006, 04:22 PM
Let's see if I can make this short and to the point. We've been a family of large breed dogs forever. My husband grew up with them and so did I. Before our children were born we had a collie/pyr and Hungarian Kuvasz. Our children were raised with these dogs. Last year both dogs passed on and we got two Kuvasz pups (brother and sister) who are now a year old. We also have a 3 year old Golden.
A couple of months ago our son, who is 3 and a half, was hugging the female, when she suddenly growled and struck him on his cheek. We realize that he's a big boy for his age and may have been squeezing too tight. We put her in her kennel and discussed the incident with him, instructing him not to hug her neck any more. Thankfully her nip only left a small bruise.
Well, today, my son and daughter (who is 6 and a half) were running and playing. The male Kuvasz was running with them. My son tripped as kids will do, and landed on the male. When my son went to get up, the male began to growl and before we could do anything, he struck our son. This time, skin was broken in the form of a scratch. Again, our son was struck on the face. We put the dog in the kennel. This time, we are unsure of what to say or do as our son didn't do anything mean to the dog.
We have had two Kuvasz in the past and never have had this type of aggression from them. The breeders we spoke to are shocked as their kids and grandkids have played around 2 or more of this breed all their lives with no incident.
Do you think this is isolated? Could it be related to the age of the dog? Could they see our little son as another "dog" and not a human to be respected?
Either we get to the bottom of this fast or both dogs have to go and our family would be devastated if we had to go to such lengths. We realize that children and dogs need to be supervised and don't allow rough play with the dogs. We are not sure what to do at this point.
I need to protect my son but is it too soon to even be thinking about rehoming our dogs? I sure hope so....:(
October 9th, 2006, 04:39 PM
What do you mean by struck, bitten or hit with a paw? Are the dogs part of your family or do they spend most of the time in their kennel outdoors or indoors? Are they sterilised? Have you done obedience with them? Sorry but much more information is needed.
October 9th, 2006, 07:37 PM
How many pounds is the dog that got landed on? A 6 year old can be mighty heavy to have fall on you.
October 9th, 2006, 09:19 PM
Well, just based on what you told us, I don't think there's a serious problem with your dog as far as aggression.
First incident--The dog was being hugged, which some dogs just don't like. Some interpret it as a sign of dominance (like mounting) and others just don't like to be restrained. Your response was absolutely spot on, educating your son not to hug the dog any more. :)
Second incident--Your son fell on your dog. When dogs are hurt, they sometimes lash out. Sure, it was an accident, but to the dog it would still be a startling, painful collision.
These sort of things can happen with any breed of dog, large or small . . . All you can do is teach your son as best you can (how to pet the dog gently, what behaviors the dog does and doesn't like, never touch the dog's food, etc) and monitor their play. It's just one of those things.
Do you think this is isolated? Could it be related to the age of the dog? Could they see our little son as another "dog" and not a human to be respected?
It's entirely possible that your dog sees your son as being lower in the pack than he is. Don't let your son roughhouse, wrestle, or play tug of war with the dog . . . Those behaviors show the dog how much stronger he is than your son. Involve your son in obedience training. And possibly start NILF (Nothing in Life is Free) training . . . Look it up on Google, you'll find lots of information!
I'm not sure from your post if the dogs live in outdoor kennels or if you're refering to their crates as kennels . . . If they live outside, get them in the house. They won't learn anything about their place in the family if they're in a kennel all day! They have to see you feeding your son before them (higher pack members eat first), see that your son is allowed on the furniture and they aren't, etc.
Also, if your dogs aren't spayed/neutered, but sure to get that done . . . I've seen posts from people with unneutered showdogs and some dogs "forget" all their manners when a female goes into heat!
October 9th, 2006, 10:42 PM
Boy, this one makes me really nervous.
Obviously, both dogs don't see your son as a human, but instead consider him a lesser member of the pack. And in a dog pack their actions would be perfectly reasonable--putting a lesser animal in it's place and asserting pecking order. Seeing my puppy play with my brother's full grown German Shepard, it looks like the bigger dog is growling and biting my pup. But it is all play, no pain or injury is inflicted .
Unfortunately, humans have different ideas about injury and pain--so this sort of behavior can't be tolerated. I guess around the two puppies, your son needs to move more slowly and try to keep things calm. And any sort of assertive, pecking order behavior towards your son needs to be strongly corrected--a loud "no" will probably work. Both dogs need to learn that they aren't allowed to even think of your son as a dog.
Obedience training will help, but for a while, any interactions between your son and the two pups needs to be closely supervised by an adult. Snapping can never be tolerated.
How do they act with your 6 year old? Are they fairly calm puppies or are they stuborn and bullheaded? If you haven't already, you should get going on obedience training right away. I don't think you need to start thinking about rehoming, but the dogs have put you on notice that they need to be watched when around your kids. If you can get them through the next year, they'll be okay, I think.
October 9th, 2006, 10:47 PM
Frankly, I think your kids need to be taught how to behave around a dog. :shrug:
Some dogs who LOVE to be hugged can still lash out if they are approached aggressively, unpredictably, or forcefully.
And a LOOOOT of dogs would have lashed out some how after being stumbled on.
Seems to me like your dogs just don't trust your kids' intentions all that much.
Sorry, I don't have kids, so I'm looking at it from the dogs' perspective.
October 9th, 2006, 11:54 PM
I'll see if I can answer all the questions to clear things up a little. Our dogs are big...130lbs. They are 1 and a half. We've had this breed twice before with never a hint of aggression towards humans. The dogs have large kennel runs which they sleep in at night. While we live on 12 acres of waterfront property, we were aware that there was an individual rumored to have thrown poisoned meat over people's fences at night, so after many years of allowing our dogs to be free 24/7, we no longer do. They are in the runs if we leave the property and in them at night, otherwise they're out with us. Keep in mind, free still means fenced. Both dogs are sterilized. When I said struck, I meant bit. The first time it just left a bruise. This time, with the second dog, it broke skin.
We are frequently with the dogs as we are "outdoorsy" people. The dogs cannot come inside because we live in a very small place and there simply is no room for them. Besides which, they get hot within minutes and want to go back out.
Our children have never been allowed to rough play with the dogs and they are always supervised. Neither dog has ever done anything to our six year old daughter. Both incidents have been directed towards our son. My husband and I are avid supporters of several shelters and for years I have taught units on humane behavior towards animals, in my elementary school classes. Both our children have been raised to respect animals and to be kind to them. Both kids collect coins and take them to one of the local "no kill" shelters, every few months. Other than a few of our animals, all are rescues. (The Kuvasz pups are not. We've had them since they were babies.) So, this incident with our son was a huge accident on his part. We were both there to observe enough to have realized this. What wasn't clear, was if the dog bit because he thought our son was another dog (ie. first reaction) or because he was retaliating towards a being he has no respect for.
Which leads me to the ideas that some of you are sharing, that the dog(s) don't see our son as a human who is "alpha" but in fact another dog, beneath them. We spoke to the breeder of these pups who seems to think this may be the case as well. She also said our son's size puts him in a position of inferiority. Also, he's not been a part of the obedience training as our daughter has. He doesn't reward or give treats. We thought he was too young and maybe that was our big mistake.
Our dogs are great with our daughter and the male listens to her very well. She gives a command and he just about trips over himself to do it as quicly as he can. The female is a bit stubborn on "come" but for the most part, she shows respect to our daughter as well.
I am very concerned about what has happened and nervous. We will be talking to two obedience trainers to see what we can do to work out this problem between our little son and the dogs. If any of you can offer any other helpful suggestions, I'll hear them.
I'd hate to have to rehome the dogs over a misunderstanding. When we went searching for a large breed dog for the property we literally spent a couple of years researching. We definitely avoided the breeds that some people told us were not good with kids. We also read up a lot on how to socialize children with large breed dogs because although I've had large breeds all my life, I've never had kids growing up with them (other than myself, of course). Other than not having our son participate in the obedience training because he was 2 when we got the dogs, I thought we'd done all the right things. That's what makes it even more frightening. :(
October 10th, 2006, 12:10 AM
I'm sorry, but I feel the need to answer again.:o
Even if your son starts doing obedience with the dogs, I think it's dangerous to try to put him as a higher member of the pack at 3 years old. Your dogs are big and if any ever challenges your son, the outcome would be devastating. You just can't have your son in a position where the dog feels challenged (i.e. a hug around the neck, which creates an immobilization, as mentioned above already).
I just don't know if a bit of obedience is enough to get the dogs to believe that a 3 year old who is significantly smaller than them (and is much more helpless) is higher up on the scale than them.
I know when I was little and I had dobies, newfs and labs around, I was never above them until the time was right. My dad taught me to be gentle and slow around dogs and to look and listen for signs of their mood and attitude. Gradually as I got older, I morphed into the alpha position as I could handle more and more dog. The dogs were taught more that us being little were a part of the pack that needed to be protected and they were to be careful around us.
I was also taught really early on to apologize to my dogs if I ever hurt them in any way, and try to convince them with a sincere tone that my intentions were good.
Basically, I think the respect for the dogs I was taught as a young person was more along the lines of a respect for authority thing (because as a kid, a dog of any size can seriously wound you, so you have to be very respectful around them) rather than a "give money to shelters" thing.
Does that make any sense?
October 10th, 2006, 12:53 AM
I am sorry but when I said "give money to shelters" I am not implying that this is all we do to instill proper respect for animals. I am just trying to point out that we as a family are very involved with animals so people reading my post aren't going to think that we treat our animals as subservient life forms. So your comment made me feel really bad and our donations insignificant. To me they are part of the whole "big picture" teaching process for my children.
We are doing our best to create a proper environment for both the dogs and our children and didn't see this accident coming. Our kids are very nice to the dogs and when my son was running he wasn't roughing...just running along on the path we were going walking on (which we do daily) and tripped. No screaming, hollering or wild behavior. Just a little boy going for a walk with his dog.
I can see your point about the danger of putting him in a position where he has to assert dominance with a 130 lb dog. I don't want dominance, I just want mutual respect. You mentioned that your dogs saw you and other little kids as beings to be protected. This is what the breeders of our dogs predicted for us and the Kuvaszok which is why years before we had our kids we got our first Kuvasz, to learn about the breed and plan for having a family with dogs.
So am I getting you correctly that you don't think we should involve our son in obedience training with the dogs? I agree that play times should not be too close to the dogs anymore, but I wonder about what others are saying about the dogs not seeing my son as a human but as a "lesser dog". I watched the Dog Whisperer a few weeks back and Cesar indicated that the size of the person should have nothing to do with position in the pack and demonstrated this with a very small dog who was the "leader" of a pair of Akitas. He also showed how children in a family worked well with a large dog. Can you appreciate my confusion? I am not sure which way to go. Do you think this is a hopeless situation that can't be reversed?
October 10th, 2006, 01:13 AM
So your comment made me feel really bad and our donations insignificant. Sorry, that was not my intention at all. I think donations to shelters are GREAT and very needed. :) What I meant was donations teach kids on a sort of global scale, while they still need to be taught direct respect for each dog they meet.
So am I getting you correctly that you don't think we should involve our son in obedience training with the dogs? I think it would be great to get your son involved, but I'm just not sure it will perform a 180 in his relationship with the dog. The dog might respect him a bit more than before, but I just don't think it will put your son above the dog in the heirarchy. For sure it's still worthwhile, if anything to teach your son manners around dogs, patience around dogs, as well as help strengthen his bond with the dogs.
I watched the Dog Whisperer a few weeks back and Cesar indicated that the size of the person should have nothing to do with position in the pack and demonstrated this with a very small dog who was the "leader" of a pair of Akitas. He also showed how children in a family worked well with a large dog. Can you appreciate my confusion? I am not sure which way to go. Do you think this is a hopeless situation that can't be reversed?The thing is, with the small dog who led the akitas, it had the instincts and skills to do so. Expecting your son at 3 to have all those skills is asking too much from your son, IMO.
I really don't think this is a terrible situation you're in and I really think it can be managed. I just think that your solution is more in you and your relationship with the dog than in your son right now, although he does need to learn more about the doggies he's living with.
Your daughter seems to have a great bond with the dogs, and for some kids, it just seems to come more naturally than to others. Maybe your son needs to be guided, more than I think your daughter was, in his relationship with the dog, and you need a very strong bond and strong position as alpha to ensure his safety and success with it.
If your dog sees you as the leader 100%, then he should trust that you would protect him (and the rest of the pack) from dangers. IMO, the dogs see your son as a threat that they have to protect themselves against, and I think you have to show them that he isn't and is one of your pack. But I think it's up to you to establish the core relationship and not up to your son. So that if they think of questioning or challenging your son, they know it's a direct challenge to you.
I'm trying to be as clear as I can be, but I feel like I'm messing it up.:o
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I just don't think your dogs see your son as in the pack at all. And that is what you have to rectify first, by clearly establishing yourself as the decider in your home, before getting your son to start his side of things.
I'm not a fan of dogs who spend a lot of time outside, so maybe I'm off on this, but I think having a group of dogs spending so much time together without human contact is strengthening their bonds with each other as a pack and weakening your authority as leader and that can be contributing to all of this.
Again, these are just my theories, and I'm really just trying to help. I may be way off here. :o :grouphug:
October 10th, 2006, 01:15 AM
I really stuck my neck out here, coming on this forum and discussing this issue. People on here don't know me and I realize that you all have no idea what kind of people we are or how we teach our children, so I've appreciated the questions.
I just want to say that it doesn't help for people to shake fingers and make implications as to what poor dog owners and/or bad parents we are. Right now we are stressed and upset because we love our dogs and want the best for them and we want our children safe, too. You don't even have a clue how badly we've beat ourselves up all day abou this. We need advice on where we can go from here. We honestly thought we were teaching our children all the right behaviors around dogs or we'd never have put them or the dogs in this situation. Obviously we did something wrong and I need to figure out what and fix it. Like I said, play times will definitely change even though the breeders of these dogs said they've never ever had to isolate these dogs from their children or grandchildren. (Believe me, hearing that has also thrown me for a loop.)
Please don't get me wrong. I want feedback and opinions on the "whys" and the "shoulds", and along the way I hope people will be sensitive with their recriminations because we feel terrible enough as it is. I doubt I'll sleep much tonight and neither will my husband. If I do, I'm sure my dreams won't be pleasant. I'll be saying lots of prayers that we choose the right route at this juncture. So keep the advice coming but please don't judge. We're really not bad people and I don't want to dread reading the responses for fear of someone telling us how awful we are, because I might miss something really valueable. And trust me...I was reluctant to post because I was worried someone'd go off on me, rather than offer some suggestions.
Ok, I'm rambling and I'm tired. I'll sign off and hopefully read some more posts tomorrow. Take care.
October 10th, 2006, 01:18 AM
I doubt anybody will come here to tell you how horrible you are. You're not horrible at all. :grouphug: We all have doggy issues we have to figure out at one point or another. I really think you'll get through this with your doggies and your kids ok.:):grouphug:
October 10th, 2006, 01:27 AM
"I'm trying to be as clear as I can be, but I feel like I'm messing it up."
No, you're not messing it up. It's hard to communicate properly in type. I realize what you're saying.
I too have wondered about the dogs spending more time with each other than with us. In the winter, they're not with us as much but in the summer, we're outside pretty much all day and they're with us.
I have also wondered about the pack mentality and considered whether or not having 3 dogs is not good. Although we have had two others prior (that passed away elderly dogs, a couple of years ago.)
Then, I have the Kuvasz breeders with 3 or 4 dogs who work the farms telling me that the dogs are mostly with each other and the sheep or goats and only with people during "working" hours. The dogs are fine with the kids and everyone is running around screaming and playing with no incidents. There are sometimes around 8 dogs from the elderly down to the parents and puppies. The dogs and kids intermingle and life goes on. We frequently visited these places before getting our dogs and there's certainly no pussy-footing around by the rambunctious children in those families.
In fact, tonight I had one person email me and tell me that I was expecting the kids to be too delicate around the dogs so that when they did act like real kids the dogs didn't know how to respond and thought that the fall was an act of aggression instead of just a "normal kid playing". Talk about confusing! I am so lost I feel like crying.
October 10th, 2006, 01:36 AM
I am so scared my little boy will get hurt and I can't stand the thought of having to send either dog to another home...or both. We've always had at least one dog and always a large breed. My daughter would be devastated. Two years ago we lost our collie/pyr to old age at 11 and our male Kuvasz to canine lupus. He was not quite 6. She loved them so much and at 4, was old enough to commit them to an elephant-like memory. When we chose our pups she gave the female a second name which combined the names of the two we had lost. When our current male was old enough to bark at strangers going by the property, she said, "Mom, now I can sleep all night because there's a big strong bark outside my window, again." That's when I realized how much she missed the others.
When she trips while playing, the same dog that bit our son, runs over to her and stands over her, guarding her while she gets up. Then he makes sure she's ok before he goes about his business. This is the protectiveness of children that we wanted from our dogs....and why the biting has us so shocked...and concerned.
Well, I'm not going to bore you with more tears and frustration. Thank you for what you've said and if you can come up with more please post. We take everything we read and consider all of it for use.
October 10th, 2006, 01:49 AM
It is confusing! I think every dog and every situation is different, so what works for one person might be totally off for another person.
I think kids should be allowed to be kids around dogs, but to get a dog to the point of allowing that is a gradual thing. With my big dog, Boo, who was severely abused and nipped when we touched him in certain places at the beginning, it started with us desensitizing his body. We showed him gradually that petting him softly didn't hurt and over time, we pet his "troubled" areas for longer and longer periods of time, based on what he was comfortable with. We also gradually pet him harder and harder, until we could tap his hiney and he would know we didn't mean any harm by it. But had we jumped in with the tap right away, he probably would have snapped at us.
Same with kids. A new kid around requires a bit of sensitization to it. Having a high energy kid around all the time is very different than having a kid come visit you on the field for a couple of minutes a day.
Your breeder sounds great, but I'm sure they know a ton about socialization and do a lot of socialization but it's so second nature to them, they don't realize their doing it. And with older, already socialized dogs around, the younger ones start off early learning from them as well.
In your case, your younger ones will be learning about how to be around a kid directly from you.
I don't think 3 dogs together is a bad thing, but it is harder to be the alpha of three than the alpha of 1. I know after Boo, when I got Jemma, the whole dynamic changed. Where Boo used to only check with us before doing something, he now checked with Jemma too, and which ever response he preferred, he went with. That's where leadership comes in.
Regardless of the time the dogs in your home spend together, they should know that you are top dog. And that can be accomplished in a number of ways, including the "NILF" method that people on this site like a lot (if you search for it here, you'll find quite a bit of info). It's the "nothing in life is free" method, where the dog has to work for every privilege. It might help if you and your hubby go out of your way for a while and really enforce that to get a firm control of your pack before moving on.
On top of that, your two pups are heading into adolescence, which is the time they need structure and leadership the most (and the time they will challenge the most). Being that they were siblings, it will be harder for you because their bond is stronger than two non-related doggies' bond would be. In adolescence, you have to be so strict and consistent, and even then you'll get challenged (ask anybody on this site who has gone through this stage- it's HARD!).
Anyway, I think that's where you start. Getting a really, really strong grasp of the leadership role of these dogs. And while you're doing it, supervise the kids around them, and as you get back up the ladder, you can get your son to have an even more active role in the training and obedience (especially since you will trust your dogs more after working with them more closely).:)
October 10th, 2006, 01:53 AM
Oh, I just thought about it. Joey E Cocker's Mommy (a member here) got an older cocker and had some issues with him thinking he could push her kids around. They're a bit older than your kids, but maybe she would have some great ideas from going through it herself.:)
October 10th, 2006, 06:56 AM
I'll point out some differences between your pair of dogs and your breeders dogs... your dogs don't really have a purpose in life from what I can gather from your posts. The breeders dogs are used for working the farm, which gives them a task and a means of communication with the whole family. They have direction and purpose. I don't think that your dogs have really understood where their purpose is within your pack. It's not a criticism but they are large dogs bred to work so constant stimulation and direction is important to their development. Also, the male is at that stage in life where he is going to assert his position in the pack... he's becoming the Man so to speak. He needs to understand from all of you that his a member of the pack but below all of you.
My children are 3 & 4. When we first got our old Berner gal, she had been an outside dog. At the time, my daughter was 2. She was excited and tried to run on her little legs through the living room. She tripped, fell and landed on our Senior Berner. The Berner was fast asleep and in a split second leapt up and lunged at my daughter. I had her in a split second out of the way but took it as a warning that she was not accustomed to kids and the accidents they can have. It took about 6 months for her to be comfortable with fast movement and little kids being little kids. We made sure she understood that when one of the kids accidently stepped on a toe or grabbed fur in a fall that it was not meant in malice. Body language with her was the key. She adores the kids now and will protect them if my husband gets rough housing with them by grabbing his arm and warning him to be careful with them.
I think and hope it was just sent as a warning to you that you need to be more vigilant with your dogs and children but also that it's time to find a purpose for the dogs within your larger pack. Work with the breeder to start getting the dogs more integrated in the family and perhaps do some work with them as well daily.
October 10th, 2006, 08:50 AM
I really get angry when I hear people blame the kids for a dog bite especially in the incidences that were described in this thread. This little boy who is only 3 years old was doing nothing but hugging a 130 pound dog when he was first bitten. I assume you were watching the incident as it occured and because your dog had not bitten previously you would not have been concerned seeing your son hugging the dog. Now you know but prior to this incident you did not. My point is that you cannot predict when a bite may occur. I know little about this breed of dog so I cannot help you with that aspect. I do know that some breeds are more reactive than others. For example a German Shepard has been bred to react quickly to situations whereas a Golden Retriever will think about reacting before actually doing anything. They are more laid back. This is not to say that all goldens are this way but they are supposed to be.
For now I think you will have to keep your dogs away from the children until you can get a professional to help you. The fact that the bites were minor is good however they did escalate from a bruise to an actual bite where skin was broken. I would hate to hear that the next bite was more serious. Children are unpredictable and it is normal for them to do things that they know they are not suppose to do. They learn from their mistakes which is absolutely normal and part of the learning process. Your first responsibility is to your children.
October 10th, 2006, 11:04 AM
I really think your dog gave your son a warning, as had he wanted to, the bite would have been much more severe. I have 4 grandchildren aged 4-6), and 2 big dogs (Alaskan Malamute & German Shepherd), and while the grandchildren have been taught there are boundries with the dogs, my dogs have also been trained to believe they are at the bottom of the pack, the grandkids are even to be respected. It appears to me your dogs look at your son as a) possible threat from harm even though it was an accident he fell on him, it was no doubt startling and may have hurt him, and b) lower in the pack.
I would suggest the following:
1. Help establish your 3 yr old as higher in the pack than the dog. This can be achieved through NILF, allow your son to be your dogs sole source of food for example. Have your dog sit by your side, and hand your son the dogs food dish for him to set down. Make sure your dog sees it's HIM who's providing his daily meals, same goes with all treats, under supervision, hand your son the doggy cookie to be given to your dog.
2. When going outside, the dog goes through the door last, first all the humans, including your son, then have your son call or give permission to your dog to join you all outside.
3. Remove all toys from the area. Your dog only gets a toy when given to him by your son. The toys are his, which he shares with the doggy.
4. Any good thing comes from your son to doggy. Your son is the supplier of all things doggy loves, and does so on his terms. (under your supervision of course)
5. I would involved your son in the obedience training. Some things like teaching to sit he can do at 3 yrs old, other like teaching to heel he can't. But involve him anyway, when you have your dog onleash teaching to heel for instance, allow your son to stand between you and the dog, and also hold the leash. You of course will be in control and doing the corrections, but the dog will also see your son as being in control even if he's not.
These are some of the practices I followed with my grandkids and doggys, and it's worked wonderfully. Even though they're small, both dogs listen and respect them, and also see them as higher up in the hierchy (pack).
Let us know how it goes, keep in mind, to always supervise all the above, never leave them alone, and make sure your son understands that he is to never do anything with the dogs unless you are present. Remain calm around them as well, or the dog will sense your nervousness when he's with you and your son. Oh, and no more hugging around the neck until he's firmily established in the pack and can be trusted 100%; no use in inviting problems.
October 10th, 2006, 02:25 PM
This is a pretty good discussion. I don't read anything so far that is terribly critical, we're all fairly concerned about your situation. Shannon's post was right on, btw.
I think this problem with your dogs will right itself with the passage of time--your baby is still pretty small and even tho your puppies are probably full sized, they're still babies, too, emotionally.
I checked the Kuvasc Club site, because I'm not familiar with this breed. Quite an old breed--used as a guard dog both for humans and for livestock--not a herding dog. I can see why you would want them in N. B.C. They'd be good for keeping wolves, bears, large cats & strangers at a distance. And I can understand why they're kept outside--as guard dogs they wouldn't serve their working purpose asleep next to your bed. It would be wonderful if these big dogs could only be house pets, from a city dweller's point of view, it's the best life for a dog. But having lived on farms & lived well away from town at times in my life, I realize that farm dogs (and dogs out in the country) have to earn their keep. Sounds like you're providing these working dogs a good home.
I think that you're here asking questions and participating in the discussion says a lot about your concern with the situation. We're on your side, btw. I like the idea of having your 3 yr old son being in on working your dogs--I get the impression from reading about the breed that they are generally fairly intelligent and trainable--and very trustworthy. I think if you and your son work them together, the puppies will get the message that your son is to be respected & minded--even if it's only because it's what you demand of them.
'Til your son grows a bit (and the dogs mature emotionally) I think it's important that they not be allowed around your son unsupervised. And, as Shannon wrote, your boy should be the one exclusively who provides food, treats, and toys, probably for the dogs' entire lifetime (at least on the food and water.)
I don't think you and your husband have done anything wrong. I don't even think there's anything wrong with your puppies, but they are going to need more socialization. That may take work and patience, but in the end it will pay off
October 10th, 2006, 04:18 PM
I agree with Prin's posts from earlier: I don't think that it is about teaching the dogs that the kids are 'senior' to them in the pack. I also have had big dogs all of my life, and my father *never* had us trying to dominate the dogs at all. The dogs were taught that they had to be gentle, and they were acclimatized to us; we weren't rough kids anyway.
That said, it is interesting to hear the dogs' attitude to your daughter in contrast to your son. Is there any way that the dogs 'see' your son as a threat to her? Do they rough house or fight/playfight? I did a little research into this breed a little while back, and from what I understand they are very protective. (also not a dog that enjoys being inside). Maybe he has hurt them and you haven't seen it. It really seems that they have not bonded to him at all, and don't trust him.
I think that it is right that you work on being the alpha with them, so that they trust you to protect them and to tell them who to trust and who not to trust (i know that is more easily said than done). You need to teach them to look to you to determine if something is a threat to them or not. Good luck, and I think you will be successful!