We just got Penny a week ago. She is about a year old. Sweet as can be, lets the kids pull on her, walk her around, take things from her, stick their hands in her mouth, etc. She takes whatever they dish out, basically. She is smart, is training quite easily. However, the past few days she has started growling at my husband and kids if they come and hug her while she is laying down or sleeping. She isn't showing teeth or snapping. Just letting out a low growl, like a warning that she does not want to be bothered. It does, however, make me nervous. We haven't known her long, nor do we know her past. I don't "think" she'd bite, but I really have no idea. I don't like taking the gamble with my children's well-being, you know? They are only 4 and almost 2. I can teach the 4 year old to leave her alone when she sleeps, but not the younger one. Would you attempt to "train" it out of her somehow? WOuld you trust that that would work? Penny is foster to adopt, so we do have the option to help her find a more suitable home if necessary.
Have you ever heard the cliche "Let sleeping dogs lie"? Your dog is giving them a warning and they might get nipped and that could get really ugly. We were always taught that when the dog is asleep leave them alone. As far as her growling at your husband, she may have been abused by a man. Tell him when he approaches her not to make direct eye contact with her. He shouldn't try and pet her on top of the head, but rather the side of the body. Also he needs to take her out and walk her in a proper heel and he needs to do some obediance with her to establish a bond with Penny.
mmm. That would make me nervous too. Especially with the two year old. My granddaughter is almost 3 and she still can't remember rules about the dog for more than 5 seconds. I've had two very bad experiences with dogs whose pasts we knew nothing about biting my own daughter who was much older. They weren't labs but any dog may bite.
My stepdaughter's lab is 4 years old and has never been abused but he doesn't like children and has gotten very aggressive with my granddaughter on 2 occasions and it was very scary. Since he doesn't live with me, I just try to make sure they are not both here at the same time. The second occassion, she was just over 2 and she was walking past him, tripped and fell on him and he went at her.
My personal opinion is that a home without toddlers in it would be morre suitable for this dog. The dog will be happier and so will you. I don't think it's worth the risk with the baby. It will be a few years before you can reliably teach her to "let the sleeping dog lie".
You have only had her for a week. She is still scared and confused even if you think she is acting "normal". It takes most rescue dogs a while to feel truly safe and secure. Give her time, and stop with the hugging. The hugging it too much too soon. Stick with petting her under the chin and on the chest.
I don't think the growling is something you can train out of dog. If Penny is awoken from her sleep the growling is probably an involuntary reaction that she has no control over.
Presuming you are keeping the dog, I would keep the kids away from her while she is sleeping until they are old enough to understand. Provide the dog with a bed AWAY from the children...a crate upstairs or something out of bounds. I would also work on building a relationship with the dog. Call her over to you for fuss, hand feed her, play with her, walk her...
Thanks everyone. Here are a few answers to some of your questions/comments.
DH purposefully provoked her to growl after she did it to our son. We waited til she was settled and comfy, and he sat in front of her and started petting her and rubbing her neck and hugging her and she growled at him. He does not normally just go over and bother her LOL.
Penny was in a foster home for a week before she got to us and never growled at a person. Before that, we have no history. She came from Louisiana, that's about all we know. I would say it's likely she has had something bad happen to her whether from humans or dogs. She has some scars that are finally growing back some hair on her tail and hindquarters. She is getting over ear infections, but no longer gets upset when we touch her ears. If it was related to that, then she should have been growling when we first got her.
When she growls at the kids, if I'm right there, I "pssshhhh" her and say no. DH, since he is doing it purposefully, does the same thing, and also gives a little collar tug.
Like I said, she lets the kids do ANYTHING to her otherwise. They get her to climb through toy tunnels, she lets the little one even lead her around the house by the collar. I didn't think she'd hurt a flea til Saturday.
It's not that I don't think the dog should be left alone while sleeping, of course she should. However, it's not acceptable for her to growl at us, either. And, the reality is, she will not ALWAYS be left alone. Gosh, I'm sure we all sometimes just go lay down next to our dogs and cuddle them even if they are sleeping, right? I know I always have without issue.
I concur with Trickster about keeping her safe and away from everyone. One of our family dogs would sometimes do that when sleeping to my son (who was a lot younger at the time). I didn't like it-but we didn't live with him.
One night we were sleeping over and going into the bedroom with all the lights out, well my son accidently tripped over the dog (he didn't know he was in there) - the dog growled and mouthed him a bit (not really a bite). That scared me because he could have bitten just out of a sleep and not meaning to - the dog is a real sweetie. So please be careful that those accidents are not setup to happen.
Yes I lay down next to Oona when she is sleeping but she never growls at me. Rebel the GSD/Dane mix that we grew up witih did bite my brother in the face when he came up and put his face on Rebel while he was sleeping. Luckly Rebel didn't break the skin but my brother's face hurt him for a couple of days and he never did it again.
Penny is telling you that the kids are overstepping their boundaries when she is sleeping. Dogs don't lie. The next thing that is going to happen is someone is going to get nipped. I'm not saying you should get rid of Penny, but she is asking for some boundaries to be put in place and I don't think they are unreasonable.
Penny is foster to adopt, so we do have the option to help her find a more suitable home if necessary.
This is my personal opinion, and I know I swim against the tide here. Penny does deserve a good and loving home and if you adopt her, she will surely have that. But, given the condition she is in, it seems that she has had a rough time of it. I, personally, don't think it is realistic to always have her in another room or in her cage when she's sleeping. You are busy and she goes and lies down somewhere and goes to sleep, are you going to wake her up and put her in another room or crate? What if the 2 year old bothers her before you crate her? I guess I am saying that since you've only had her a week, you have an opportnity to rehome her, you should do it. It's a big risk with a 2 year old. Since you are asking what we would do, I would rehome her. I wouldn't take the risk. If something happens you'll never forgive yourself.
I know what I am talking about. I held my 10 year old daughters hand in the ER 15 years ago when she got 30+ stitches from a dog bite. She was permanently scarred. You really don't want to be in that place.