Need help! Puppy and toddler just don't mix!
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Thread: Need help! Puppy and toddler just don't mix!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    DefaultNeed help! Puppy and toddler just don't mix!

    I am at my wits end about the relationship my three year old son, Jacob, and my puppy, Kona, have. They are constantly after one another. If my son is just walking by her she runs and attacks him and nips at his face. We make sure to stop it right away by saying no and putting her in her crate for a time out but this just doesn't seem to be doing anything. Jacob loves her to pieces because he's always saying so and always talks about his new puppy. The only real time he feels comfortable being around her is when she's in her crate and he talks to her through the gate. Jacob gets so frustrated after having to deal with this all the time that they actually start wrestling each other on the ground as if they were siblings (we break it up right away). Even though Jacob is too young to understand and communicate with her properly we have taught him to say 'off' and 'no bites' and push her down but she just over powers him because they are about the same size and she is stronger. He gets bitten by her every day which ends in tears and he's now starting to become afraid of her (she lunges at him so fast that we don't have time to stop it). He got bit right by his eye leaving a puncture wound and turning it black. I'm so fed up with giving her time outs. I don't want her to have to live in her crate. We started training her as soon as we got her and we have kept up with it since. She will be going into obedience class in a few months as well. Oh and I was going to mention that she is totally fine with us, she is the perfect puppy, it's just around Jacob that there's a problem.
    Someone told me I should buy a little squirt bottle and give her a little squirt when she attacks Jacob. She'll get to the point where I won't have to squirt her at all and just the site of the bottle will hopefully stop her. What think?


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  3. #2
    Luvmydog2much's Avatar
    Luvmydog2much is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
    Windsor Ontario


    Put her on a leash, and control her actions, since you can't control his.

    You need to be diligent about this for a few months until she grows out of it.

    I'm sure you did your research on active Lab puppies who are very mouthy, and their relationships with small children, so you are more than likely prepared.

    When she's in her crate, your son should not be allowed nearby, this is her safe haven away from him, and allowing him to poke at her and touch her through the crate is teaching her and him what?

    I'm sure you've heard this before but your puppy needs a lot of exercise, both mental and physical, lots of long walks and playing ball, at the park and OBEDIENCE CLASS.

    Good luck.
    'Don't grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.'
    ~ Michelle Held

    Rhys, Ruby and Nola

  4. #3
    3TailsWaggin's Avatar
    3TailsWaggin is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    I agree with keeping her on leash, in the house, tethered to you if you have to. You need to control this situation. Right now the pup sees your son as a litter mate, and it won't change unless you make it change.

    When your son plays with the pup, you need to be there at all times. Create games that show the pup your son is higher in the pack than the pup. For instance, have both your son and the pup sit, give your son a treat first, THEN give the pup a treat. Play ball with your son and the pup. Throw the ball first for your son to run and get. Then throw the ball for the pup to go get. When your son starts to feel more comfortable around the pup again, let your son give the pup a treat, or throw the ball for the pup, but only with your supervision.

    I agree, when pup is in the crate, your son should not bother the pup. I would put the crate in a room and close the door so your son won't bother pup when pup is supposed to sleep, etc. Puppy needs a place to be away from your son, and your son needs a place to be away from the pup.

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  6. #4
    myfavoritedog's Avatar
    myfavoritedog is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    I really can't add anything except I agree 100% with what's been said. Sounds like you watch them when they are together and I think tethering Kona to you when she is out of her crate is an excellent idea.

    Good luck and let us know how things are going~!

  7. #5
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009
    Lawrence (ex-Topeka), KS


    I agree with the previous suggestions.

    The mouthiness and biting of Lab pups decreases A LOT after puppy teeth are lost.

    IMO, training efforts will be only slightly effective -- you determining the situation, freedom, circumstances, etc., at this age will be much more effective.

    However, the squirt bottle, if you have it always at your side, could be slightly effective.

    BUT even MORE effective would be adequate exercise.

    The usually accepted rule of thumb for Lab puppies is 5 minutes of vigorous exercise for every month of age (up to 12). However, Lab pups differ and I found MY Lab pup (Puff) needed 2 of those periods -- about 8-12 hrs apart -- to be sufficiently docile. You need to learn to "read your Lab" -- judge by their activity levels (sleeping, playing, interest in viewing the world and its activities, etc.) how much is the right amount.

    By vigorous exercise, I don't mean walking on a leash.

    Offleash retrieving, running after a ball or dummy, and bringing it back is a great form of exercise. (Swimming retrieves are even better.) IF your pup doesn't know how to retrieve, teach it to do that.

    Last edited by Bob Pr.; 10-02-2009 at 03:21 AM.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":

  8. #6
    bacatherine is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    I agree with everything said above. How old is the puppy? As long as she's had all her shots please try to get into an obedience class or have a trainer come to the house. This should help you and the puppy get the basic obedience started and give the puppy some structure. I agree 100% with leashing the puppy while she's out of her crate and your son is around the easiest way to stop a bad behavior is to prevent it all together and you can do that better when you have them leashed. It won't last forever but it's not a real quick fix either probably a month or so.

    Start NILF (Nothing in Life is Free) which is basically she has to do something you want in order to get what she wants. ie. sit before getting to eat or go outside, having to have permission to get on furniture if you let her on it at all. Use treat rewards for good behavior and lots of praise when she's doing well that is almost more important I think than correcting the bad behavior because you need to show them what is acceptable not just what isn't. If you can I'd have your son start feeding her. You can put the food in the bowl on the couther then have the puppy sit then have your son sit the food down. Things like that will help establish your son as higher in the pack. It's a lot of work but not impossible and it will pay off with a great relationship between your son and the pup in the future.

  9. #7
    BigBrownDog is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    The reality is that often puppies and toddlers just don't mix. Too late for you - you have the puppy and will have to manage the situation until the puppy is old enough to behave appropriately with the baby. But - in many cases, it is a better match to get an adult dog when you have very small children. In my opinion, the youngest child in the household should be 6 before a puppy is added.
    Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.

  10. #8
    YukonsMom is offline Member
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    Mar 2009


    I'm hardly a lab expert, and come here to *gain* knowledge lol, but I can say a few things about your problem.

    I have 3 kids: a 3.5 year old, 8 year old, and 11.5 year old. Our lab Yukon is now almost a year. I'm not sure how old your pup is, but I can tell you that I had to be literally RIGHT with Yukon when he was near my 2 youngest kids. He would bite/jump/drag/trample/rip their shirts and I'm sure even more if I hadn't been their to supervise. There did come a time where it lessened substantially. Maybe 4-6 months. At almost 1 there are still scenarios that I have to be careful about. For example, if my 3.5 yr old daughter is in the backyard playing with a toy and I let Yukon out the back door, he would barrel towards her and try to steal whatever toy is in her hand. So, I make sure to tell her "I'm letting him out, put down the toy and stand on the grass instead of the driveway".

    I guess my point is that it will get better and evolve as they both age. I was a worried mess about this not so long ago. I think people over-romanticize "a young child and their dog". I know I was upset at having to keep my little ones seperate from him when he was a puppy (Unless my full attention was available), but that was the reality. Their relationship hasn't suffered at all and now all 4 of them can play happily in the back together. As long as one doesn't climb a tree...

  11. #9
    Labradorable's Avatar
    Labradorable is offline Senior Member
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    Mar 2009
    ON, Canada


    I agree with the above statements. The leash, the training ... you need the dog to understand YOU are the boss and nipping on the child and jumping up are not acceptable.

    I have a two year old son and a 6 month old puppy. From day one when we brought Dozer home (at 8 wks old) we made sure both our son and the pup knew the child was boss. There were a few moments where the pup would be bitey, but pups do that and we had to ensure we were right there to intervene, but now it's great. They snuggle on the floor together, play gently, etc etc.
    Dozer (04/01/09) & Moose (01/02/13)
    Cybil (02/02/00 - 02/20/09)

  12. #10
    BauersMom's Avatar
    BauersMom is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2009


    I agree with everyone else, and it isn't just toddlers. When we got Bauer, my youngest son was 10.5; and Bauer nipped and jumped on him constantly. I made sure that Bauer knew he was boss. He was the only one that fed Bauer, and he became our lead "practice trainer" at home. It wasn't very long before Bauer knew that good things came from him, and nipping/jumping was not the way to get them. Obviously he is a lot older than your toddler, but you can still use the same techniques. I do like the idea of tethering the puppy to you in the house to keep everyone safe. Good luck, and remember that this stage doesn't last forever.
    Debi and Bauer
    Some people are like slinkies. Not really good for much, but bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

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