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Teasing the dogs

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My son just turned two. He's normally a sweet gentle soul, even with the dogs. But he gets in moods where he just wants to be mean. I try to encourage him to play with our younger dog, and leave the older one alone as she is arthritic. He will usually play nicely with the younger one, even pet both of them. Sometimes, though, he just gets in a mood... today he took the car keys and hit them on the younger dog... I grabbed him, made him look me in the eye, and said NO! Gentle with the dog. He left her alone for awhile. Then later he rolled my big ball (birth ball) into the older dog, also leaned on her, in general just likes to push her around. I did a time-out (I hold him facing away from me on the ground) and then straight afterwards he pushed her AGAIN.

It just seems like when he feels like being mean, he purposefully goes for the older dog I tell him to leave alone. If held time-outs aren't working, what do I do?

I know people are going to suggest I separate them... FWIW we used to, but our stair gate broke and I really like not having it anymore... he is good on the stairs and I don't feel it's a danger to him. I also just want him to learn not to torture them, but is it expecting too much at this age?

Thx in advance, I'm at my wit's end here.
post #2 of 10
I think it's expecting too much at this age. I'd keep them separated still unless you are right there to supervise, and that would involve continually teaching and modeling gentle and respectful behavior for both pets. It's hard work at this age, but gets easier. My son is "much" better with these things at almost 3. Probably right around 2.5 or 2.75, he started showing some decent impulse control.

I don't think your son's being feeling mean, FWIW, I think he's just experimenting and needs more reminders about the proper way to interact with pets.
post #3 of 10
My dog is a cattle dog breed. She's very timid, especially around males. When my ds was 2, he started being very aggressive, but not just toward her. However, I would tell him, "I would stop because she may nip you or bark at you. It's how she protects herself." He didn't quite listen for long, even though I continued to warn and one day she did bark at him in his face and nipped his ankles (as herding breeds do). It didn't hurt him, but it did scare him.

He turned to me, I hugged him and told him, she has feelings. You hurt them. She responded because she has nothing else to do. She can't talk like we can. He actually did understand and hugged her saying "Sowwy" to her. It was one of those moments, that he needed to learn from experience to understand and he did. Now they are the best of friends. She sleeps on his bed and everything.
post #4 of 10
I think you should tell him to use a gentle touch and model how for him rather than viewing this as mean. Does he do this more when he wants your attention? My dd used to hurt the cat when she wanted my attention and it really helped to act proactively to prevent the attacks. When I was going to have my attention off of her for a while I made sure the cat wasn't in the room. The time-out, especially when you are pinning him to the ground face down may add to the problem if he is frustrated by the lack of control he feels when he is pinned to the ground. If you are really set on using time-out then I suggest reading the Dr. Sear's Discipline Book and finding a gentler way to use them.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post
The time-out, especially when you are pinning him to the ground face down may add to the problem if he is frustrated by the lack of control he feels when he is pinned to the ground. If you are really set on using time-out then I suggest reading the Dr. Sear's Discipline Book and finding a gentler way to use them.

I don't pin him down, OMG! He sits between my legs and I gently hug him. He doesn't struggle, it's not really a fight. It's just two minutes of quiet time so he calms down. I will check out that book though, thx. I really don't know what to do for GD and haven't done much reading on it.

Thx for the replies. He just does it when he gets energetic and I think he thinks it's fun. I tried more redirecting today, and even just took him aside at one point to try to explain that it hurts the dog, and he said ok. He stopped for much longer than he does with a time-out, so I think we'll just go with that. Also? The stair gate is going back up so the dogs have a safe place again
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Ok well that didn't work. Tried to take him aside, have him look me in the eye and explain that it hurts the dog when he pushes her, he said ok, then kicked me. IDK.
post #7 of 10
I think it's pretty typical two year old behavior. He does it, the dogs react and you react. I'd remove him from the situation and redirect him to something more appropriate.
post #8 of 10
While I think it's somewhat typical behavior for a 2 year old, it's definitely good to talk to him and explain why it's not ok. Rather than a time out or grabbing him to say "NO". Just keep reminding him that it hurts the dogs to be pushed, scratched, etc. I might say something like "it really hurts her when you do that. I know you don't want to hurt her." And then show him how he can touch the dogs, model a gentle touch. You might need to do this over and over again. Most likely he isn't "trying to be mean" he's just experminenting with getting a reaction. Always assume his intentions are not evil, and just model gentle behavior so he learns from your example.

I do think it's important for children to learn to respect animals though. I always told DS that it was not OK chase birds or ducks at the park because it scares them. The other day at the park some little toddler was trying to run and jump on a duck and his mom was standing by chuckling. DS said to him "you're scaring that duck - stop!" His mom looked so embarrassed
post #9 of 10
My 4 yo has been treating dogs (and people) like this since he was two... It's VERY frustrating and he has been nipped three times (once from a different dog), but continues to put things in the dog's face. It is because he's very excited and thinks it's a game, but the dog retreats, tail down when he sees him, and it's sad because they do adore each other usually. I talk to him constantly about respecting animals, but I just hope this passes soon, because he just. doesn't. get it. And like I said, it's with people too and respecting boundaries. It's always when he's suuuuuuuper excited. I guess just intervening and focusing that excitable energy on something else might be the key at the moment.. who knows.. all I know is that I'm over the constant reminding and fear of a major bite to the face. So yes. I understand this frustration and you are not alone!
post #10 of 10
I am dealing with this too... My dd is 2, she loooves to grab the dog's tail and pull, she squeals with laughter. She grabs his ears, she bites him, she kicks him, she tries to ride him, she lays on him. I beg her to be gentle, I show her how, I give her other ideas of how to play... fetch, hide and seek, gentle combing... as a matter of fact even my 5 year old is guilty of being rough... we just got the dog a few months ago. I end up putting the dog in my room. I am so sad for him, this is not at all what I had hoped for. He is very good, he hasn't bit the little one once. He nipped the older one on the foot after she kicked him... I was in the bathroom
It is very scary.
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