Author Topic: Question about aggression with children  (Read 3250 times)

Offline amylynn

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Question about aggression with children
« on: March 11, 2009, 12:23:25 pm »
Hello! :)

It has been awhile since I have been on here so maybe I should re-introduce myself.  ;D My name is Amy Lynn and my husband and  I are blessed with 6 little girls, a male Chessie mix and a female Saint Bernard.  :D

We adore both of our dogs. We have had our Chessie for 11 and a half years. He is now 12 years old. Our Saint is 4 years old and we have only had her for 16 months. Her name is Isis. She is the sweetest and most gentle dog and we love her to pieces. The problem is that over the past 6 months, we have noticed that she doesn't like kids other than the ones in our family. We had our neighbor boy over and we were all talking and she just suddenly leaned forward at him and gave him a VERY scary warning bark. It really worried me because I had no idea why she would do that. After that we began to notice her barking ferociously at children behind the fence when they are out in their yards. Some of the kids are only toddlers, others are older. Our neighbor boy came in again and she did it to him again. :(  After that incident, we put Isis in our bedroom when he would come to visit.

Just this past weekend, we had two of my nieces and one nephew stay with us. The first night, I was in one of the bedrooms and Isis was lying on the floor between me and the door. She seemed calm and relaxed. I called my niece into the room and Isis went into the warning bark at her and scared her! I wondered if she was trying to protect me and the baby as I was holding the baby in my arms. Later, she did the same thing to my 4 year old niece and she did absolutely nothing to her, or around her. The next morning, she did it to my 2 year old nephew. That time, she also lunged at him with the bark. I was monitoring her and the kids the whole time. They were never left unattended with the dog. I truly have no idea why she is doing this. We ended up having to have her stay with my parents until they went home.

We are so heart-broken over this because we feel like although we trust her completely with our own children, we aren't sure we can trust her around other children. We are afraid to walk her because we are not sure if the warning bark will turn into something bad if we encounter a child.  :'(  Our neighborhood is full of children. 

My husband & I have set up an appointment to talk with a trainer/dog behaviorist, but we have so many people telling us that you can't train out aggression & that we should find another home for her.  :'(  We are so confused & unsure of what to do. We love her & the last thing we want is to have to give her up. Has anyone else ever dealt with this? Can we learn to trust her around other children again? Does anyone have any advice?

Thank you so much in advance for any help.
Blessings!
Amy Lynn
Blessings! :)
Amy Lynn

Offline ZooCrew

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Re: Question about aggression with children
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2009, 03:28:55 pm »
Hello! 
I'm wondering if you have socialized her around other children other than your own.  If not, she may not be comfortable around strange children and find them threatening.  Its one thing to have them in your own family........ ..its quite another to meet strange children outside the family.

I'm thinking desensitizatio n therapy may help in this situation.

Does this only happen in and around your own home?  How does she react to strange adults coming in the home?

I do think that some work needs to be done in the home as well.  Basic training.  once you say someone is okay to be in the home, she needs to respect that.  She is being overprotective ..........I don't necessarily think this is aggressive behavior.

Offline doublesaints

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Re: Question about aggression with children
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2009, 01:04:05 am »
My saints will both bark at children in the neighborhood like they are ready to tear them up.  I have found that some of these kids are nuts and still want to come over and "pet the doggies".  I sit with my girls and pet them and let them know it's ok, and the kid comes over and pets them.  They do seem a little skidish at first but have never tried to bite.  They end up licking all over the kids with tails wagging.  I had an American Bulldog that was the same way.  The only dog I ever had that when he barked at kids he really meant it was a Great Dane.  Loved my kids but not any others.  He would lunge at them, even bit a couple of them. I could tell it was not safe for kids to be around him even before he bit...so I guess it all depends on how much your dog is trustworthy.  Do you feel that you could sit with her and hold her and let her know all is ok and THEN have the child come and pet her.  You would have to be in control of the dog because she is protecting her territory. You have to assure her that you don't need protecting "at this time".  I like the treat idea too...first you give her one for being good and then have a child give her one.  I think she just needs reassurance from you that everything is ok...and not just with words but with interaction with her. Bend down, sit with her, love her and let her know it's ok to let a kid walk by her or pet her.   
Kelly -
owned by:
Ruby - Saint
Jade - Saint
Joe - Cat
RatRat - Ferret

Offline Gevaudan_Jo

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Re: Question about aggression with children
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2009, 01:15:26 am »
just wanted to add somethign to the above post...
Make sure you are NOT petting her and giving her the positive reinforcements of growling and barking...  ;)
Jodi & Darcy
Proud Parents of
Zero-Bull Terrier
Jigsaw-Bull Terrier
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Reba-Chinese Crested
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~ waiting at the bridge, Zeus and Memphis, great danes ~