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    1. #1
      House Broken
      Hunter&Me's Avatar
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      What do you guys think? 3.5 yr old son & Hunter

      Before I ask my question, I want to make it clear that I never, and will never, leave my 3.5 yr old and Hunter unsupervised. The two of them are always supervised and always will be -- for both of their sake.

      Quick background: I've had Hunter for almost 3 weeks. Hunter is almost 4 yrs old. Previous owner said he's good with kids. I later found out that his youngest child was around probably 8-9 yrs old when Hunter was brought home as a puppy. That said, Hunter is pretty good with three of my children (I have four sons, ages 18, 13, 6.5 and 3.5 yrs old), Hunter is ok with my 3.5 yr old as well, except he gets really excited around him and does something that makes me nervous (more about that below).

      Hunter is the most curious about Mason (my 3.5 yr old). In the very beginning, he was just as curious about my 6.5 yr old, but I taught him to "stand like a tree", so Hunter could get some good sniffs...and it seems to have worked, as now when my 6.5 yr old comes near Hunter, all Hunter does is give him a quick sniff and walks away. When my 6.5 yr old pets him, Hunter's reaction is the same as when I pet him -- very calm and enjoys it. Btw, 6.5 yr old isn't allowed to be around Hunter unsupervised either. The only ones who are allowed to be with Hunter alone is me, hubby, 18 yr old and 13 yr old - who is 5'10" and growing, and he knows how to treat and handle a dog very, very well. Only hubby and I take Hunter outside, kids can come along, but not without one of us.

      Now, my question:

      When Mason runs around, Hunter chases him and "bites at him"...I can't say it's really biting though...it looks like Hunter is trying to bite at Mason's shirt or something. He's never made contact with Mason or his clothing when he does this "biting" or "snapping" or whatever you want to call it. Imagine a 3 yr old running and Hunter running right behind him, "snapping" towards the 3 yr old's back, but not making contact.

      Is that normal? Is this a warning from Hunter?

      Hunter doesn't seem to have an aggressive bone in his body, but Mason does excite him -- even if I am holding Mason or sitting next to him, Hunter just really, really, wants to badly sniff him and licks him a thousand times. He seems to want to follow Mason everywhere as well. Mason is potty-training right now and often wears pull-ups (training pants that, in my opinion, are similar to diapers). That should be done with soon though, but the pull-up does interest Hunter quite a bit as well, however his interest in it has been declining.

      My husband says that Hunter's still getting used to Mason and we will just not ever leave them unsupervised and all should be fine with time (though we will not leave the two unsupervised even when Hunter is more used to Mason).

      I love Hunter to death. To me, he's the epitome of a good dog. I've had other dogs in my life, but much, much, smaller than Hunter (who is approx 80lbs). I have to admit that Hunter snapping at Mason like that makes me nervous. Also, as I already mentioned, I don't think Hunter is at all aggressive, but I also know that under the right circumstances, any dog can bite.

      There's a "no running in the house" rule, which we've had way before Hunter joined our family, but Mason being only 3.5 is still learning, so he sometimes runs across the living/dining area and I immediately stop him, but in those few seconds, Hunter often chases him. However, when I tell Hunter to stop, stay or sit, Hunter listens VERY well and stops chasing Mason. If only Mason listened that well!! LOL!!

      Any thoughts on the biting/snapping thing? Can anyone explain this behavior to me? Does it sound serious? Serious enough to enlist the help of a trainer coming to our home to help? It's only been not even 3 weeks since we got Hunter, so am I worrying for nothing?

      I'm hoping some wise words and good advice can help me be not so nervous when this chasing stuff happens to happen. I want to set Hunter up for success, which is why I'm reaching out to you guys for some help on this.

      Thanks and sorry for such a long post!

      P.S. Apologies if "biting" or "snapping" aren't the right words to use in regards to Hunter's behavior, but I'm hoping you get the gist of what I mean. Thanks again.
      Last edited by Hunter&Me; 12-31-2016 at 04:01 PM.

    2. #2
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      honestly when it comes to kids and dogs I recommend getting a qualified, educated, experienced trainer (I always opt for the ones who use learning based theory in their training techniques) to come in the home and evaluate. Trainers are not just for serious issues or waiting to see if things "become" serious. The best time to get them in to evaluate is BEFORE things get anywhere near serious and before and incident occurs (should one occur). It's easier to address inappropriate behaviour right away in the early days than struggle as the dog makes a habit out of them and it's harder to "fix".

      While it doesn't sound like Hunter is at all aggressive he is large and could accidentally hurt a child (knocking them over, loss of control in their nip and making contact). Have a trainer evaluate the situation, the household and the dog could be invaluable. ESpecially early on in the game as he's only been with you a few weeks. It sounds like prey drive and a dog that needs to learn more bite inhibition (i.e. don't nip!) It doesn't "SOUND" like a warning (But again we can't see so hard to really evaluate) and while it's normal dog behaviour, it's inappropriate.

      ETA: be picky on choosing your trainer. it's a totally unregulated industry. anyone can call themselves a trainer and/or get various "qualifications" that are questionable. Personally anyone that uses the term Alpha and Dominance I would avoid but that's just me (they are out dated terms and understanding of dogs)

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    4. #3
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      I can picture what you're describing, possibly, because our dogs gets so excited if I go out running around in the yard (or if I run and play with them in the house, bad me) that Lark is likely to try to catch me or nip at my clothing. I know she's just happy and worked up and since I'm an adult, no problem there. If I sit on the ground, both of mine go crazy with happiness. Chase can get a little humpy so I'm not on the ground too much. Since Mason is closer to Hunter's size, running around with a friend his size probably seems like good fun to Hunter. If Mason is squealing and laughing or making other high pitched noises while being chased, that could rev a dog up even more, not always in a good way though. Of course, I cannot see what's happening and I'm only basing it on how my dogs act when they are excited and happy. Mine are still learning how to behave around our 21 month old grandbaby and are always supervised, too. I'm pretty sure my dogs would run along with a child who was running and Lark probably nip at their clothes like she does with mine.

      But, since this is a high stakes situation, as Tanya suggests, getting a behavior specialist or good trainer to observe Hunter in his natural, everyday environment could be helpful to you, both to assess whether his behavior is troublesome or just him trying to play with your kids, and then to help you figure out how to help Hunter and Mason both learn how to behave around each other to avoid any misunderstandings with either of them. I'd also try to make sure Hunter gets plenty of exercise or running around time outside to burn off energy where it's safe for him and your littles. Your older kids could probably help with that, getting him to chase balls, teaching him tricks, etc.

      I would just add that it helps me to have something handy for Lark to carry in her mouth, such as a stuffed toy, a ball, or one of her Kong toys. That way her mouth is otherwise occupied. She is a mouthy girl and she pretty much grabs a toy to push at me any time I leave the house or even leave a room and come back. Probably because when she was little I'd shove a toy in her mouth any time she started mouthing or nipping at me.

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    6. #4
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      I can relate. One of my past Labs, who I had since a puppy from a great breeder, was the sweetest dog and for his 16.5 year life barked maybe 12 times, I don't remember him growling and never so much as snapped at another dog or human. When that dog was about ten I started dating someone with kids. The kids dressed him up, laid on him, walked him, pulled him around the in a Radio Flyer wagon while wearing a helmet...and he loved every second of it. However, when the kids would run and scream, he'd chase them and grab their clothes (sometimes getting rough and pinching skin). This dog didn't even play fetch, but something about kids running got him revved up. This was just outside, so it was manageable (dog stays inside or on a leash if kids are going to get crazy). However, inside is harder.

      I agree that getting someone, a professional, over to watch the interaction is a good idea since we don't truly know what is happening here, not to mention no one here is a behaviorist. Get some advice from them. Just make sure that they are not going to ask you to punish or shock the dog as that can make things a lot worse! Some sort of positive behavior modification or management is better. In the meantime, you can manage the situation as best as you can or keep them separated. Keep working on no running with the little one and maybe teach him to stop and be still like a tree when the dog goes after him. If he stops moving the dog should lose interest. You can also counter-condition the dog by calling him to you each time it begins to happen (you really have to do it before it happens) and doing something he enjoys. If you do that enough, you can replace the behavior, but whatever you are offering has to be better than chasing the child (food, special toy, etc.) and you have to be super consistent.

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    8. #5
      House Broken
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      Thank-you so much for your replies. I found myself reading them over and over again. I really appreciate you all sharing your thoughts and experience.

      Again thank-you. Your posts are so very helpful.

      Happy New Year.

    9. #6
      Best Friend Retriever
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      I have posted here about the lab mix we had to get rid of. We adopted a lab mix from peuto Rico from facebook .Rocco was 80lbs and real tall blood hound chocolate lab.
      He did not like my 4 yr old son then.
      He was great with us but would growl at my son and would freak out especially when he is running around .
      We could not risk an incident and rehomed him.
      But Rocco never played with my son as hunter is doing. What hunter is doing is more in tune with that Gigi does when very excited as a puppy. She at 10 months is alot better. Small kids are very hard on dogs hence most rescue with tell you 8 plus kids .

      It's also takes 3 months for a dog to adjust . I will monitor and also the boy is screaming and running crazy .Watch him .




      Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

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    11. #7
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      Chloe also behaved like this when she was a puppy. BOTH sides - the kids (mine were older than yours though) and the dog had learn how to play appropriately. I don’t think it’s a sign of a bad temperament at all, but it is something that needs to be stopped for safety. A professional trainer might have some good suggestions as to techniques.
      Annette

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    13. #8
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      Hunter And Me,
      Most responsible behaviorists / trainers would be very reluctant to lend their opinion on such matters without personally observing said interactions. Good advice in previous posts, seek professional assistance.

      Irishwhistler
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    15. #9
      House Broken
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      Thanks again.

      I've been noticing that when Hunter gets excited, he's been grabbing his favourite toy in his mouth. In the beginning, I'd offer it to him when he was getting excited, and now he just gets it himself. I've been working really hard on Mason not running around and he has simmered down quite a bit. I have baby gates installed and I remind Mason that he can't run if I bring him over the gate.

      I also want to mention that none of the kids rough house with the dog, they don't try to sit on him or pull his tail or anything of that nature. For the most part, the two little ones stay away from Hunter and they always ask permission if they can pet him. I've been teaching the children that we must respect Hunter and Hunter may not want to be petted all the time -- though, it really seems that Hunter DOES want to be petted all the time! LOL. He's such a sweetie.

      I'm very glad I posted about this here and, although I know no one can tell me 1000% what's going on, it is still nice to know that you all don't "think" it's something awful or very serious. Still, I am looking into trainers and will have one come to the house.

      Thank-you again -- your posts are very helpful.

    16. #10
      Best Friend Retriever
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      Quote Originally Posted by Hunter&Me View Post
      Thanks again.

      I've been noticing that when Hunter gets excited, he's been grabbing his favourite toy in his mouth. In the beginning, I'd offer it to him when he was getting excited, and now he just gets it himself. I've been working really hard on Mason not running around and he has simmered down quite a bit. I have baby gates installed and I remind Mason that he can't run if I bring him over the gate.

      I also want to mention that none of the kids rough house with the dog, they don't try to sit on him or pull his tail or anything of that nature. For the most part, the two little ones stay away from Hunter and they always ask permission if they can pet him. I've been teaching the children that we must respect Hunter and Hunter may not want to be petted all the time -- though, it really seems that Hunter DOES want to be petted all the time! LOL. He's such a sweetie.

      I'm very glad I posted about this here and, although I know no one can tell me 1000% what's going on, it is still nice to know that you all don't "think" it's something awful or very serious. Still, I am looking into trainers and will have one come to the house.

      Thank-you again -- your posts are very helpful.
      I really hope you get some assistance and peace of mind for your questions, too often I see here "get a trainer", as if they grow on trees.
      Months ago I attempted to find one that does more than just sit and stay, gave up at the 150 mile radius, perhaps I live in a dead zone.
      I tend to agree with your husband with Hunter.
      Let us know..

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