My new dog doesn't like my son

nat0209August 4, 2012

Earlier this week, my son (15), my daughter (17) and I visited the animal shelter and my son found a dog that he clicked with immediately. We asked to sit outside with the dog and we played fetch with him. Everything went great. A couple days later, my son and I went back to visit him and we played fetch with him again and it all went perfectly. Today, my husband and I went to adopt him. My son and daughter stayed back to work on the doggie fence. As soon as we got home, my daughter who was in the garage came to greet him. Our new dog was super friendly and happy. We went to the back yard to look for our son who approached our new pet and the dog went off running away. A little later we all played fetch with him and it seemed fine but now, a few hours later, our new pet growls at him and if my son gets too close, he snaps at him. We tried playing fetch with him again after dinner and he won't return the toy if my son throws it. This is so sad and so strange because my son is great with dogs. Our neighbors call him the "Dog Whisperer" because the dogs in our neighborhood love him. He's also the only one that gets along with the neighbors dogs across the street. I'm so sad and even though my son says he's fine because he knows our new dog will eventually warm up to him, I can tell he's disappointed. He's such an animal lover and loves our new dog. Our new dog seems to love me, my daughter and my husband. What should he do? What can I do to help?

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Time ,Only time will tell. I wonder if the New dog was hurt by a young teen male ? hard to tell when u get something from the pond. I hope it all works out .

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 10:57AM
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The fact the dog got along well with your son at the shelter says the dog has nothing against your son.
There's something going on in the home environment or the dynamics between the dog and the other family members.

Snapping is not a great start and you need to contact an animal behaviorist before this gets worse and a bite happens.

How large is the dog?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:47AM
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It's an Australian Cattle Dog or Queensland Heeler. He's 44lbs.
This morning, I was in the kitchen with him. My son walked into the kitchen and he started growling again. I had my son feed him ham this morning and at first he wouldn't approach my son, but after a few pieces of ham, he started eating out of his hand. I think time and some effort will help. Last night, I was just so bummed but this morning, I feel more hopeful. Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:12PM
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I think he'll come around. Make sure your son doesn't force interaction, is quiet, and speaks quietly and TREATS TREATS TREATS only from son. I think they be great pals in a few days, and that'll erase the dog's negative thoughts when he builds trust. .

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Is it possible the dog is already being protective of you and thinks the son is a threat to you or others? That's about the only thing I can think of but I have to admit I am confused by dog behavior. I have owned dogs my whole life but I haven't been around a bunch of unfamiliar dogs until just recently. Is there a good book on the subject?

Just yesterday I was looking at a dog that was at a kennel from the pound and the lady that owns the kennel was standing beside me and the dog was in his pen, I was attempting to see how he was toward me by putting the back of my hand up to the cage and he went tearing at me and snarling and just not a good thing and then the owner of the kennel lady said that he is just being protective of her because he's already bonded with her. That would not be a dog I'd want to have to try and deal with.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 1:46PM
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My iggy and my husband are the best of buddies but the dog has one situation where he is protective of me, and skins his lips back and sometimes growls and that is when my husband walks past the daybed in the living room if I am in it with my dog. He doesn't do this if he is with me anywhere else, and he doesn't do this if I am not in the daybed with him. Something in his little dog brain associates the daybed with me in it as his territory and he guards it. I'm curious if your new dog has any negative actions around your son if nobody else is around and they are one on one.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:40PM
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So whatever happened with the new dog?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Hello everyone! Thanks for all your great advice, suggestions and support. We've had our new dog for about 5 days now and things are still not great in the growling/snapping department. But they're better. I think he is fiercely protective of me and my kids have reported that he behaves better when I'm gone. But not always. He is getting along better with my son most of the time. Unfortunately, there are times when he still growls. He started growling/snapping at my daughter now. But again, just some of the time. I don't know what sets him off. When he snapped at my daughter today, I wasn't home. I think it'll get better. I think he was abused and it just takes time. He's nearly perfect in so many ways and we just all love him so much. He has growled/snapped at everyone in our family, except me. I don't know if that's just his personality, that just attaches to one person or maybe he'll turn on me one day. Annz said that he may just need some time to adjust and I think that may be true. Arkansas, girl, thanks for asking about him again! I liked to hear Calliope's story because it makes me feel better and receiving support and good wishes from mountain girl and lily. I also read a book called "The Dog Listener" which was really good and watched a bunch of youtube. They were all helpful, as you all are! Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 11:56PM
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I am glad to hear it's getting better, but this still is not a good situation, and you can't get complacent about it because it may end up with someone getting bitten. I know pretty well the conditions and limits my little iggy will display his reactions in since I've had him two years and I've seen him in action under so many social situations I know how he will respond to children, other animals and food. We still proceed with caution in any new situation until we can get a handle on how he will react and how consistant he is with those reactions. He is and was a wonderful little dog, but his history is completely unknown and he came with massive separation anxiety. You could tell he was in a household and he had a brother at the shelter who was obviously the alpha dog who got the most attention. That is why I chose NOT to adopt them together. This dog deserved to be allowed to bloom. A forty four pound dog however has more potential to injure than a little fourteen pound dog and it took awhile before my dog developed the daybed possessiveness. It was very hard for us not to laugh about it and encourage it because it was funny to us. I would suggest you find some assistance in your dogs issues, like an obedience class, where someone who 'knows' dogs can address his problems, which are likely caused by fear, and perhaps cruelty or neglect.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:21PM
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I agree with calliope that you should seek out some assistance in handling your dog. You need to learn what's triggering his snapping episode and why he's doing it.
Some dogs just don't like children, period, and I've seen cattle dogs that bond to one person in the family and end up protecting that person from the rest of the family.

I worry since he is now snapping at your daughter. You need to learn if his growl/snap is out of fear or if it's an early sign of aggression and his way of taking control.

Personally, I would first have him checked out by a vet and make sure he's healthy. Also have his vision checked to rule out cataracts, etc.
If he checks out healthy, then enroll in an obedience class and also use some of the exercises suggested in the article below.
Read the link below, then read it again. It is very accurate re: the ACD's personality. If you don't have a lot of experience with dogs, I suggest you bring in a trainer to help you, but don't use someone with a heavy hand. As the article says, you must win this dog's respect yet you need to be the leader.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 2:44PM
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Sorry, here's the link.....

Here is a link that might be useful: ACD

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:27PM
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I'm not a dog person so for what it's worth, I would definitely invest in professional help if you're not willing to return him to the shelter. It doesn't read to me like he's getting better; he's started growling at your daughter now. I wouldn't rest everything on the main-stay obedience classes, either. I'd hire a dog trainer, one familiar with herding dogs that could give me specialized attention. It's just going to take one bite and then the dog doesn't stand a chance; it will be immensely difficult to adopt him out again with a bite history. He's obviously got aggression issues and you can't rely on the shelter history. Ten to one he was surrendered because of the aggression and you don't know if he has already bitten someone. I wouldn't keep a dog I couldn't trust without a thorough understanding of it's behavior and triggers. That's the only way to prevent an incident to your family or visitors. It sure sounds like he's pulled your heart-strings! I hope you're successful and he's about to turn around into a nice family pet.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Depending on where you live, if he bites, and you decide to get rid of him he will be required to go to animal control. Most animals don't get a second chance and are euthanized after the quarrenteed period. What animal shelter did you get it from? Animal Control/SPCA/small organization? Call them first to see if they offer tips/assistance for the problems you're having. You can also see if your local humane society/spca offers free training classes or has an animal behaviorist on staff. Ours does and it's free.

Unfortunately animal services (at least here) is limited to what they can advise you to do as they're not allowed to promote any businesses/products and can get into big trouble if the advice they give goes wrong. The SPCA hopes to give you options to keep your pet but will take them if there's no other alternative.

Cattle dogs that have come into our shelter are very focused and have a lot of problems just being in this environment. I've seen them become aggressive because of boredom. If your kids has the energy, take that dog running. See about becoming involved in some of the sporting dog events (Frisbee, lure, obstacle course) that the breed does well in. Just walking a bit and playing fetch in the back yard is not enough for this highly active breed.

Good luck and congrats on rescuing a new family member for your home!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I second the trip to the vet. Unexplained snapping can be a pain reaction and he might have an undiagnosed spinal issue or other issue that causes him periodic pain.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Hi Everyone! Thanks all for your concern. I'm not sure what to post, except, I'm quite certain it's MUCH better. He hasn't shown any aggression towards my son in several weeks. He didn't show any aggression towards my daughter either for about 3 weeks but then just recently, he snapped at her.
We do take him running. He runs several miles a few times a day. We all run at different times during the day, so he goes on 2-3 runs per day. I take him at around 6a.m., at least one of my kids takes him after school and/or plays fetch with him and then my husband takes him in the evening. He gets PLENTY of exercise. I run the least, which is about 3-4 miles in the morning and on occasion 5 or more miles.
I also took him to the vet. The vet is concerned, so he has a dog trainer that is planning to come by. I also contacted the local dog training school, who has not yet returned my phone call or email.
BUT, my dog is doing better. I just don't have the heart to take him back to the shelter. He came from a shelter near by, which I believe is VERY good and everyone cares about the animals. They told me he won't get along with other dogs but were sure he would get along well with people. And by all accounts, he did until we brought him home. Remember, we visited him a few times at the shelter and he as great. I am sure that if we take him back,he will be euthanized and that idea is just too heartbreaking. My dog has some very loving qualities and such great charm.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Glad to hear things are going fairly well. It would definitely help for a dog trainer to come to the home so the family dynamic could be observed. If your daughter is at all afraid of the dog then he will definitely try to take leadership. Having someone show her (and the family) how to gain control and recognize what causes him to snap will help in his, and your, training.

Not getting along with other dogs is not uncommon for a cattle dog.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 8:10PM
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Perhaps members of the family the dog does not respond to should be the ones to feed the dog. By hand if necessary.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:52PM
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