Snapping at 3 Year Old

Posted by STEVEPHS
Jan 9, 2009
I am hoping someone will be able to help me with a problem we have with an 8 month old Goldren Retriever. The dog is not normally agressive, but in the last couple of weeks he has snapped at our three year old son a couple of times. For info, we have three kids 7, 5 and 3. He has no issues with the two older kids. We have had the pup since he was 8 weeks old, he is a pedigree, and was acquired from a reputable breeder. He has been well socialised with other dogs and humans since he's been with us.

The first time he snapped at him was when the dog wasn't paying any attention and he didn't see my son walk up to him - when he went to stroke the dog, the dog was startled and snapped at him catching his finger.

A week later, my son walked past the dog (at some distance) as the dog was eating and the dog lunged forward and snapped at him, again catching his hand.

Starting this week, we have got our son (under close supervision) to feed him each morning and to make the dog sit before putting some of the food in his dish and adding further food after he has been made to sit again. We have also started to make sure that we are in close proximity to the dog whenever he is eating to get him to build up confidence that we aren't going to steal his food.

There seems to be two problems - slight food agression and a lack of trust toward my son.

The dog is fine with our other two children.

If anyone has advice on how to improve this situation I would be most grateful. Is another problem that at 8 months the dog is trying to assert himself?

Posted by Maggiesmom1
Jan 10, 2009
My first thought while reading your post is you need to take your dog to the vet for a full medical work-up including blood work!! Do this ASAP.

That would be the most likely cause of a well-socialized golden retriever (the most gentle dogs around) to start acting this way. Its hard to tell when an animal is hurting or sick sometimes, they can mask it well. Personality changes are one way that we can see something is wrong.

Until you can get to the vet, I would supervise all interactions with the 3 year old and the dog. You don't want this to escalate to a problem beyond what it already is.

I hope it is something medical that can be fixed. Good Luck.
Posted by Annie
Jan 10, 2009
I just wrote this on another post...maybe it helps...
ignore the golden retriever stuff.....I was generalising ...

hi there,
I think it would be good for your dog to have a checkup at the vets to make sure he does not have anything that is making him uncomfortable.
I also have a 2.5 year old and have to really watch every contact with my dog. The child is now old enough to be given some clear rules with the dog.
This is what I have set-up.
Our dog has a private space that the child is not allowed to enter. Everybody needs time out from a kid
Our boy is only allowed to stroke the dog gently in the correct way, hair down, and No bopping, hitting, pushing etc.
The child helps with feed times and scoops the food into the bowl ( seperate from the dog, but can be seen) I think this helps a lot.
I will be very firm on the baby if he shoves our dog out of the way, or trys to tread on the dog.
The dog is also trained to leave any situation that is not OK, and go to her safe place.
The dog will go through doors behind the baby etc etc same as Alpha things for grownups.
The baby will allways be fed first.
And always always supervise. When I have a shower my dog is in the garden. When I am on the toilet the baby is with me etc etc. Sounds extreme, and my dog has never shown more than a mild intollerence of the kids....but...I don´t want anything to happen ever! I don´t trust that the baby goes too far one day, and the dog has just had enough. A bite to an adult is tollerable. A bite to your baby could be the end for the dog, the kids trust in dogs etc etc Don´t give the situation a chance....
Our kid is now 2.5 years, and he is starting to be more bored by the dog and leaving her alone.
Teach your new baby the rules from the begining. A child can learn these things really early.
It´s not easy with dogs and kids, and I am always envious of families with goldern retrievers or the like ( we have a Husky mix) where the baby can do ANYTHING to the dog....but it´s not so in our house, but a good balance can also be found. Remember it´s a dog...not a soft toy to amuse the kids
Good luck,
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