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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 08:12 PM
Original message
Question about dog behavior and children.
Our newest addition Sam, a 2-yr cattle dog/border collie, has made the space under my desk his 'den'. I have a crate for him with a nice snuggly bed in it, but he goes to great lengths to get under my desk and sleep on the cold hard wood floor instead. Which is not a problem, mostly. He is a little jumpy when I sit down fast, but other than that, no problems.

So here is my question. My 2-1/2 year old son followed him under the desk while I was sitting there. The dog has been very nice with the kids and I was right there, so I didn't think anything of it. But after a minute, the dog let out a scared sounding yelp and beat it out from under the desk. I don't think the kid hurt him, although you never know.

Do you think the dog was scared by the child being in his 'den'? Maybe he felt threatened or backed into a corner? Can I train the dog to accept the kid under the desk with him? Or is this an unsafe situation that should be avoided in the future? Should I not allow the dog to camp out under the desk? Or just keep the kids out of his space?

Sam is still a little jumpy from his rescue ordeal. I would hate to put him into a situation that was more than he could handle. He is not the least bit aggressive, but I am afraid he might bite out of fear, more than anything.

I put the dog in a down/stay after the event and comforted my son, who was scared. Was this right? Or was there a better way to handle the situation?
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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 09:20 AM
Response to Original message
1. I would not let the kiddo under the desk with Sam for a while.
I don't know how long you've had Sam, but he might still be adjusting. If he's "still a little jumpy" then I'd give him time. If he's found a safe spot under your desk, let him have it. The desk is probably more enclosed (roof and walls on 3 sides) than the crate is (open bars). You might try covering the crate with a blanket over the top with the door open to create that same enclosure, if that's where you want him to be (not a bad idea, as you may, in the future, need him to stay in his crate for periods of time).

The down/stay doesn't sound like the wrong thing to do. It doesn't sound like you scolded or corrected him.

If not for the aforementioned jumpiness and rescue "ordeal" I'd say that it sounds like the dog went under the desk, followed by your son. Your son (if he's at all like many kids) may have tried to lay on the warm, soft, cuddly dog. Dog freaked out, yelped and ran. No big deal.
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. We have a plastic crate with holes for ventilation,
so it is mostly private. I crated him for short periods of time after I got him, but have stopped. No reason. He gets along with my other dog and is not destructive. I am rarely out for more than three hours anyway.

I think you are right, no big deal. The dog was just a little startled by the child. I will monitor them more closely in the future. I did sign Sam up for obedience class at the local pet store. He is pretty good, mostly, but I thought that the classes would give him more self-confidence and better socialization.
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flvegan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Good on ya for the obedience class.
You're right on with the socialization as well as the behavior.

Best of luck, but I don't think you'll need it. Things seem to be going pretty well.

Oh, yeah...thanks for adopting!!
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Honestly, I am the lucky one here.
Sam is a great dog. I am lucky to have him.
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IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 10:40 AM
Response to Original message
2. I think flvegan is on the right track -
It doesn't sound like it was a big deal, just that the two of them got into quarters that were a little too tight. I think it is a really, really good sign that all that happened was that they both got startled - Sam did not growl or nip, he just wanted out of there.

I like flvegan's suggestion that you cover Sam's crate so he can go in there if he likes. I would also keep the desk chair pulled away from the desk when you are not sitting there - that way if your son approaches while Sam is under there, Sam can get out without commotion.

My Golden Retriever, Ben, is shy of all people, but particularly afraid of kids. The level of his fear suggests to me that he had some scary interactions with kids before I got him from the rescue. Even the sweetest child sometimes moves fast, talks loudly, grabs a tail or ear, or hugs too tight - making a shy dog feel trapped. Ben isn't slightest bit afraid of loud thunderstorms - but a 3-year-old girl who wants to pet the puppy is reason for terror. :scared: Ben will never react with defensive aggression, but for his sake I avoid little kids when we are at the park. When I have friends with kids visit, I let Ben hang out on the bed (where he feels safe) and put up a baby-gate to keep the kids out of the bedroom.

Ben does best with adults who ignore him and let him approach them. Getting your two-year-old son to do this will be very tough - but I would encourage him to continue to play with your other dog and to ignore Sam. This is actually a pretty good lesson for your son - you want him to learn to not approach dogs that are reacting with even subtle signs of fear because some might react with defensive aggression and because your son is more likely to enjoy interacting with animals as he becomes able to discern how they feel and react appropriately. It is a nice lesson in empathy.

It sounds like things are going pretty well with Sam - all in all - it takes a long time for a new furkid to be thoroughly integrated into the household. ;-)
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wildeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 01:43 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Sam is mostly really good with the kids.
He particularly likes my son. That is why I was a bit surprised by his reaction. I just don't want to get into a situation where the dog gets scared once and it escalates into something more serious. And Sam does have some mild phobias. I think once he settles in a little they will resolve. I just want to make sure I am not unconsciously encouraging bad behaviors. Sam was all waging tail and face licking the boy this morning, so I don't think there was any permanent upset.

It is so important for people to teach their kids to approach strange dogs with respect. I had a large shepard mix that was not comfortable with kids. And over and over kids would run up on her out of nowhere. She never bit, but occationally she would give a warning growl. It used to scare me to pieces. The parents would be standing there smiling like idiots and I would be saying in my most calm voice so as not to panic the dog, "um, she really doesn't like kids. Could you please call you kids off?"
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IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Oh, good - this gives me a better idea of what is happening
with your two boys. Glad to hear Sam likes your son so much!

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