Growlling at Granddaughter Problem

Posted by BernieG
Jul 20, 2011
Hey there,
we have a foxy x who is 2 years old, he is perfect most of the time, and responds well to Alpha Dog training. My problem is that on Monday & Tuesday I babysit my granddaughter and while he is always happy to see her, he really didnt take much notice of her until just recently when she started to walk. he tries to interact with her and gives her his play toys,she is too small so that doesnt work, he usually just leaves her, or may go and sit on her blanket while she plays. however when her family arrives to pick her up, ( usually an 11 hour shift) he sees that as his time to sit and rest, he has on 4 occasions been asleep and something has startled him his reaction is to show his teeth and growl, usually my granddaughter is near and she cries, he then growls again. I have taken him outside and explained this is not acceptable behaviour but now my family are suggesting that I should perhaps have him put down as he will eventually bite her. To me this is not an option I believe that they could co exist together because he is happy during the day when I am there with just her, I think its the noise factor, even though he is a very social dog they are very loud people, should I wait until they arrive so that he can see who it is and then take him to another room so that he can rest, or is this sending a punishment message. please someone reply I am desperate
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jul 20, 2011
Hi BernieG,

It sounds to me like your dog and granddaughter get along fine. The problem may be in that your dog seems to be getting startled to sleep, and then has to deal with noises he's not used to (your granddaughter crying). A child crying can be an unpleasant stimulus for a dog - but I do have a couple questions.

If he's just startled awake by anything (not necessarily people), is he grumpy over it? When he growls after being woken, is it actually directed at anyone - is he staring someone down, or just grumbling to himself? Has he ever moved toward/lunged at anyone (your granddaughter included) while growling, or is it more stay in one place and growl at the same time behaviour?

If he's not actively aggressive other than growling, it may just be grumpy behaviour. You should try giving him an "enough" command any time he starts, especially if he doesnt get up and approach anyone (ie, if he's just lying down and growling). I do this with my dog who will sometimes growl at strange noises outside our property, and its enough because he's not trying to get into whatever he's making noise over. Given, I haven't seen the situation, but it certainly doesnt sound like dangerous aggression to me, and I'm not sure I fully believe your dog is going to attack your granddaughter at the moment. Try the "enough" commands (or "quiet" or "stop", "no", whatever you want to train with).

One other thing I would suggest is not allowing him to lay/sit on your granddaughters blanket, especially if she's not on it with him. Its one thing for a dog to cuddle a child in their bed/blanket/space, but allowing him to "take over" her blanket might send cross signals that he is "dominant over" your granddaughter. So stopping this behaviour could help him not growl so much at her noises because he'll start to see her as dominant. Try giving him his own blanket/bed (if he doesnt already have one) and training him to just lie on that.

Hope this makes sense
Posted by StevieM
Jul 24, 2011
Taking him outside to explain his behavior is unacceptable isn't going to mean anything to the dog. Sorry, it just isn't.
If he's been asleep, and after 11 hours with a young child I would be!, it's very likely he's startled by the noise. Let him be in another room with the door closed or at least a baby gate. It's not punishment.
I do hope you are always supervising when they are together. I mean ALWAYS -- don't even leave them alone to answer the phone or go to the bathroom. Use the babygate, or a playpen for your granddaughter to be in, or take her with you. Toddlers are very unpredictable in their movements and can fall or grab suddenly. Keep them apart unless you are actively engaged with them, or risk losing your dog, your granddaughter, and your relationship with your own children. Honestly, I don't want to scare you or suggest getting rid of your dog, but just remember dogs do come with weapons. Keep them both safe. check out [url=]Dogs&Storks Dog and Baby Safety[/url] and [url=]Dogs and Babies…Learning to Live Happily Ever After[/url] for awesome information. I give these sites to every family with kids that I work with.

Stevie M
All Smart Pets Training
Good luck!
Posted by BernieG
Jul 26, 2011
Thank you both very much for your advice. I have taken him to a vet who also works with behaviour since i posted this and she pretty much said what you both did. He is just growling because he is fightened, we thought it was directed at our granddaughter but it happened again one evening when he was sleeping on my husbands lap, there was a loud explosion outside in the neighbourhood and he immediately jumped up showed his teeth and growled and barked, when we said it was ok that was outside he stopped immediately. We were quite pleased because it showed that it was what it was, he was scared. No I will never leave her unattended, she is too precious
but I firmly believe that ROY will never hurt her, she is now happy to pat him and I make sure she goes out the door before him and he doesnt seem to mind that either. Thanks once again for your help kind regards Bernadette