Puppy Nipping, 3yr Old Son Not Helping!

Posted by t1gg3er
Dec 30, 2007
We have a gorgeous, but naughty 15 week old Springer/Cocker cross called Chester. We also have a 3yr old son (Alex).

We're trying to teach Chester that play nipping isn't acceptable behaviour. Myself, husband & other 2 sons are all following th advice givn in Sitstay fetch & on other threads in this forum & the message sems to be getting though where we're concerned.

However, at 3, Alex is taking longer to understand & follow the rules. When Chester nips him (he seems to enjoy trying to pull Alex's trousers down) Alex reacts by flapping his arms & stamping his feet which Chester then takes as his cue to 'play' some more.

Obviously, I need to stop this from happening but am not sure whether I should pick Alex up & remove him from the situation (the easier option) or move Chester away from Alex which can be a bit difficult when Alex is upset & needs comforting. I want to be sure they both get the right message. How can I train them both?
Posted by Todd
Jan 1, 2008
Hi there.

Thank you for your question. Children and puppies can often be a troublesome mix and i must say this problem occurs a lot.

The first thing i would explain to you is to never tell Alex off when Chester is around. As described in SitStayFetch the alpha order is very important in the household. If you tell Alex off Chester may feel that he becomes dominant of Alex which can make a huge lot of problems.

Often the easiest way to do this is to not let the child and the dog play together unless an adult is there. Alex may not want to tell the puppy off but you sure can. If you can limit how much time the two spend together (i know this will be very hard) while Chester is still nipping you have a much greater chance of solving the issue

Okay what i have described in other threads is what you seem to be doing which is great. Often talking to the child and telling them that they are the boss of the dog, the dog needs them to tell it off when it nips etc can make them feel very important. But Alex may not be interested in that

Remember that play can get out of hand and someone may get hurt. So be very careful with the two of them. Only allowed supervised play.
If Chester gets too much then you should reprimand him as you have been doing. If Alex gets upset or Chester continues then take Chester away. You will most likely end up with a screaming child but with time both Alex and Chester should learn what they should be doing

Good luck with both child and puppy and let me know how things go.

Kind regards
Todd Field
Posted by t1gg3er
Jan 2, 2008
Hi Todd,

Thanks for replying. I had a feeling the answer would be to remove the puppy rather than the child but just wanted to make sure. What I hadn't thought about though was not reprimanding Alex whilst Chester is around.

Naughty as he may be, Chester does have a lovely nature & is bright. Now we're doing things the right way his behaviour is changing quite quickly. Our other spaniel (Mindy, aged 2) also does a good job of keeping him in check.

Things will become easier as both Alex & Chester get a little older. It's just a bit difficult helping them both to grow & develop at the same time but in different ways. Life's certainly not boring at the moment though!

Thanks again for your advice.