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Old 03-10-2019, 01:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
Chris__M
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Default Howling at toddlers

Katie (5 years old, newly rehomed) is pretty good out on a lead. For the first 2 weeks she was super shy of everything, and still has odd relapses of shyness over at the dog park, but generally she has been fine with meeting other dogs, and having their owners make a fuss of her.

Both at the park, and when walking on the street, she seems cautiously interested in people going by. The dog park also adjoins a playing field and a BMX track, and she seems fine with teenager and pre-teens alike.

However, she only has to see a toddler, even in the distance, and she will pull, bark and howl. She will do this continuously until they are no longer in sight.

I don't think it is aggression, as her tails is wagging throughout. But it gets me some very alarmed looks from worried parents, as it is clear what the object of Katie's howling is.

Does anyone have any idea what this may be due to, and how to curb the behaviour? A friend asked me if it might be down to her having recently been parted from a litter, but the connection between puppies and a warmly wrapped up toddler seems tenuous to me.
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Old 03-10-2019, 04:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Note also - to the best of my knowledge, the show breeder I got her from does not have young children.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a grandchild that is now 4yrs old. Cassie was very frisky and all about smelling her. This caused my granddaughter to cry and all the adults to start freaking and shouting commands which made things worse. Cassie was not aggressive but overly curious and playful. The problem is that the toddler and the dog are essentially the same size. Now a few months ago we had to evacuate our home for a week due to a fire that was raging in our area. We went to stay at our daughter's home with the 4yr old. I took strong control and handed over the leash to the child and told HER to talk to the dog and say..."come" and to give hand signals to stay down..totally improved behavior and the toddler loved walking and having Cassie walk nicely next to her which thrilled the granddaughter.
I certainly wouldnt do this with children of strangers. Bottom line...a dog is an animal and you can never be 100% sure what they will do around children. This doesnt mean that your dog is aggressive, its that your dog hasn't had that experience. I added the picture showing how things got better that same week.
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Old 03-11-2019, 08:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Yes, before I met Katie's breeder, I was looking to rehome with the a local (but quite large) animal charity. I narrowly missed a couple of beagles, but then saw one that seemed great. I took him out for a walk, and came back to discuss things, feeling quite happy.

Then, in the discussion, they mentioned the reason for it being up for rehoming - it had repeatedly attacked the original owner's toddler and had once bitten him on the face. Of course, one does not know the whole story, but I am afraid that was enough for me.
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Old 03-11-2019, 11:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Think that was a wise decision.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am kinda gonna respond here to all of your threads, if you don't mind. This is my best advice for every situation.

Enroll in an obedience class. Work on obedience, at home, every day. Some people, like Cassie (Joann) use clicker training. I don't have experience with that. Natty Boh is very food motivated. I always used a portion of his kibble as training treats. That way he wasn't getting extra calories. Even though Katie has training, she needs additional training with you. Training will increase your bond. One of the most important things I taught my dogs, was eye contact. You want your dog to look to you in every situation. You don't want your dog to make her own decisions. You tell her what is acceptable and what is not. Her focus should be on you.

I taught eye contact, but holding a piece of kibble near my nose, just under my eye. As I hold the kibble there, I say, "Watch". The dogs' eye automatically goes to the food, which is so close to my eye that they are going to make contact. As soon as their eyes meet mine, "Good boy!" Treat. Next, Just my hand near my eye, no treat, watch. And lastly, just my hand, no word or treat. Before my dogs pounce on their bowls of food, I can say, "Wait!", put the bowls down, "Watch!" Eyes must remain on me, until I release to eat.

"NO!" is an extremely important word. A sound, like AT, also works. Teach those things. When you and Katie encounter a toddler, get her focus on you. Stand between her and the sight line to the child and tell her WATCH!. If she is howling/baying, NO! Be consistent and repeat, repeat, repeat. Just want to add - even though I put those commands in caps, I'm not yelling. LOL! Sometimes, it works better to whisper to a dog, especially, when they are very excited. If you are loud, they think you are just joining in. They have excellent hearing, so no need to be loud and you'll get the response you desire.

My two started with a new, unwelcome behavior last week. They have decided to bark howl, every time we leave the house. They only do it, because they enjoy it. Because it's two of them, they egg each other on. I didn't correct it for a few days. At first, I thought it was cute. Then, I thought it was annoying. So today, I walked to my car, the barking started. I turned to the window. Made eye contact. Said, "NO!" It stopped immediately. They know.

Previously, I had a German Shepherd who was dog aggressive. When I walked her, she wore a prong collar and a muzzle. (People saw her coming and crossed to the other side of the street.) It wasn't possible to make her like other dogs, but it was possible to teach her to ignore them. Our walk was always moving forward, focus on me. I didn't give her time to think/react to other dogs. It was "AT! Let's go." I think you need to do that with toddlers. Teach Katie to ignore them. Do not allow the unwanted behavior.

I would ask the breeder, if Katie had any experience with young children. Baying and howling would not concern me. Does she growl? What is her body language like? Is she stiff? Tail tucked? Licking lips? Showing any sign of anxiety? Or - is she showing signs of being happy/excited - happy tail wag, smile?

One last comment - you stated the crate is under the counter, in a dark place. Is that because the breeder stated Katie is used to that? My crates are always in well lit, active areas, so the dog feels a part of things. Neither of my dogs is currently in a crate, but they had to earn that privilege. Katie is new to your home. Don't give her too much freedom too soon.

It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things. Relax and enjoy your beautiful girl!
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Old 03-11-2019, 08:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Great stuff, many thanks.

It's been pointed out to me by friends in the know that although Katie has had training for the show ring, that doesn't completely map to useful training for a household pet. The example they gave is that show dogs (in their experience) are not taught to sit on command, as that is not something that would be desirable in the ring (a judge placing a hand on the back of a dog, and it sitting would not be the right behaviour).

So there is some work to do, but she appears to be super smart, and *very* food oriented. I can use that!
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natty Boh View Post
I would ask the breeder, if Katie had any experience with young children. Baying and howling would not concern me. Does she growl? What is her body language like? Is she stiff? Tail tucked? Licking lips? Showing any sign of anxiety? Or - is she showing signs of being happy/excited - happy tail wag, smile?
No experience with young children, apparently.

Not growling; I would say excited - absolutely waggy tail, and pulling on the lead.

I've had quite a success with No already, in a couple of things she does around the house. As you say, no need for loudness. She is inquisitive, and often goes on her hind legs to look at something up high. But when that involves something I don't want her near (often food on a counter) I say "No", usually only once, and she gets down.
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natty Boh View Post
One last comment - you stated the crate is under the counter, in a dark place. Is that because the breeder stated Katie is used to that? My crates are always in well lit, active areas, so the dog feels a part of things. Neither of my dogs is currently in a crate, but they had to earn that privilege. Katie is new to your home. Don't give her too much freedom too soon.
When I was planning for her arrival, I bought *two* crates. One a normal wire two door crate with a removable tray; the other a crate that was also a nice piece of furniture, made of wood (but with metal inside).

The idea was that her crate was going to be in the lounge, and I didn't really want a wire crate there; that's why I bought the furniture. The wire crate was going to be just for the car, and also (occasionally) when a friend looked after her for me.

That plan didn't survive past the first night. She took to the "furniture" crate, was happy to go in there of her own accord, explored it several times in the evening. She went outside to do her stuff, then went to bed, and I sat reading with her until she settled. No problems at all.

But overnight, it is clear that the new surroundings had scared her, as when I came down in the morning, she had both wet and messed the crate.

That was when I realised why a removable tray is such a good idea.

The only way to clean that wooden crate, without taking it apart, was first to clean it roughly with a a scoop and then a mop on a long stick; then by putting my head and shoulders inside to clean it thoroughly.

The second night we used the wire crate in the lounge, and she was happy with that as well. Over the week, I discovered she settled more if the crate was covered, and that is when I decided to move the crate to the kitchen - I had this space out there that had previously only housed a trolley with small appliances on it, but pretty much dead space. Her crate fitted fine, with room for food and other stuff up the side and a water bowl in front of that.

Here's a picture of her crate, taken with a monitor IR camera I have in the kitchen. Since the picture was taken, I now have a (secure) food bin for her feed alongside the crate.



She has free access to the crate whenever I am downstairs, and voluntarily will go there for a lie down sometimes. She also has a covered sofa in the lounge, which is where she normally keeps me company.

From the very start, her reaction has been to go to her crate whenever food is offered, so I feed her in her crate. Again, I thought associating the crate with good things is probably a good idea.

So at the moment, the "furniture" crate is sitting idle, a monument to my foolishness and indulgence. I did ponder at leaving it in the lounge as a place she could hang out, but she doesn't show any interest in it - she has *her* crate in the kitchen. So I am thinking of bringing it up to my home office, upstairs. At the moment, she lies on a plain dog-bed in the corner, but the office isn't big, she has a habit of moving her bed closer and closer to me, and I don't want to risk backing my chair over her.

As well as giving her a safe haven in my office, it will also give me another flat surface to put things, which is always useful. Things, of course, that Katie won't treat as toys; and almost certainly stored in secure plastic boxes.

Last edited by Chris__M; 03-11-2019 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Its always a work in progress...what works and what doesnt and just when you think you've got it figured out they do something different. Cassie has a crate and 4 beds...she's 7yrs old now and I'm still adjusting as needed. I always give cassie a tiny treat when she goes in the crate so she knows thats a good place to be. I put one bed under my desk which makes it like a crate.
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