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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, so I need some serious advice and thought a good place to ask for it would be from other like-minded mommas.<br><br>
I bought a puppy from a friend in early Dec. She was about 5 weeks old (which I immediately found out was wrong of me to listen to her advice of taking her so early...should have waited). She is a cocker spaniel purebred, named Kiva.<br><br>
She was fine to live with the first few weeks, but I made another mistake of allowing my almost 4 yr old daughter to carry her around and play with her a lot. My 1 yr old also is going through a bully phase and couldn't quite grasp how to handle a little furry thing. So he would pick her up by her skin on her back, no matter how many times I would show him how to hold her softly.<br><br>
Now we have a real problem, and I'm not sure what action to take.<br><br>
She's about 16 weeks old now, a really sweetie... BUT I don't have as much patience as I thought I would have for her. And she is the worst biter ever. She growls at the kids and chases them around biting their hands and face and pulling their clothes off. No matter what I do. Even if she's gone on a looong walk, been fed, etc. I feed her really good food (all natural kibble with all natural steamed veggies/meats/fruit and whole food puppy supplement mixed in), take her on a walk in the morning and night, and have a pack leader approach with her. I give her tons of love, cuddles and attention. We hired the local dog trainer in town to come to our house and show us how to interact with her Pack Leader style, and her biting has lessened a bit, but she bit constantly to begin with, so she still bits a LOT!<br><br>
Quite honestly, as much as I love her, I wish I had just adopted an older, sweet dog from a rescue group that was through the puppy phase, good with kids, housebroken and willing to be trained, etc. I'm not sure I'm patient enough to just wait this out until she's a nicer, gentler doggy.<br><br>
I really love her, and if I didn't have small children, I would definitely keep her. I just hate kicking her outside all day long, b/c she's constantly biting my kids (and when I say biting, I mean <i>biting</i>, blood included, not nipping).<br><br>
I'm a little distressed as well, b/c I feel bad that I fell for the puppy thing - especially since I feel so passionate about animals and it would've been more in alignment with my beliefs to rescue a sweet dog.<br><br>
So with my rambling, these are the few choices I've considered, and I'd like others' experiences to help me make my decision. 1)Spend some serious time training her and adopt a young adult, gentle dog in a couple months (since we're gone or unavailable about 4-6 hrs per day, and possibly more in the future - and I've always wanted more than one dog), or sell her to another sweet family who has the time and lack of young kids, and adopt a couple older dogs.<br><br>
I'm really worried that my kids are tramatizing her (since now when she comes in the room, they kick at her since they know she's going to attack them, and she growls and snaps at any kid that tries to pet her), and I'm really worried that this experience will teach my kids that doggies bite and are mean (when we see other, quiet, older dogs, my almost 2yr old ds will draw back and say "bite" and won't pet them). I don't want either to happen.<br><br>
What do you think? Is this normal puppy behavior? Or is this more serious than I thought?? I have a hard time making decisions, from lack of experience...so advice please??<br><br>
Thanks so much!!!<br>
Sarah
 

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It is inadvisable to take a puppy away from his mother too soon because the mother teaches the puppy proper pack behavior. Dogs have their own "language" , if you will. They understand each other, just as we understand other humans. A "normal" dog is not inclined to bite people. That's just not typical dog behavior. Certain things will lead to that behavior, however. Children should not be allowed to handle puppies by themselves- not young children. The example of why this is not a good idea is what happened with your child hurting the puppy by picking it up improperly.<br>
I think that the puppy was taken much too soon for its own good, and then the children mishandling the puppy added to that. Drawing blood is a serious problem.<br>
What do you know about the puppy's parents? Are they well bred, stable dogs? Would the breeder let you return the puppy? Most breeders would prefer to take the puppy back rather than see it taken to rescue. Plus, you wouldn't want to pass that problem onto someone else.<br>
Perhaps now is not the time to have a puppy or a dog. maybe you could wait until your children are older? I hope you find a good resolution<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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What did the trainer tell you to do? When the trainer had spent some time with her, was she behaving? Did you feel like she was willing to respond to him? What are you doing right now to keep her under control?<br><br>
Not to jump on you, but this is exactly why breeders get so antsy about putting puppies with young kids. Your breeder was stupid about letting her come at 5 weeks, but your kids are also part of the problem. So this has to begin with them.<br><br>
This is also a Cocker problem--they're not the Lady and the Tramp dogs that everyone wants them to be. Cockers are VERY mouthy and they're smart, clever dogs. They also need a LOT of exercise.<br><br>
I'd IMMEDIATELY tell the kids that they are not allowed to touch the puppy in ANY way until they can get hands and feet under control. I have a feeling that this puppy thinks she's basically fighting for her life, as she would with a large pack of other dogs where every bit of food or other resource is something to be fought over. She's got in her mind that she needs to defend herself or take over in every situation. So she needs to have the reassurance that nobody's going to randomly or chaotically hurt her anymore.<br><br>
The kids should also learn the proper way to deal with her--when she jumps on them, they STOP, STAND, and TURN THEIR BACKS. This is going to be really hard for the one-year-old, so anything you can do will be better than nothing. But kids running away shrieking, or fighting turns on every single chase and bite cell in any dog's brain, and it becomes impossible to stop.<br><br>
Second, she needs to be on a leash. Always. For at least a couple of days. Tether her around your waist when you can't hold the leash. You put the leash on her neck up high, and firmly correct her any time she tries to jump after or go after the kids. DO NOT correct movement that is backwards or away from the kids, and don't correct any sign of fear, even growling. Only correct forward movement. Never put her outside if she bites--the incident has to be dealt with right then, and she has to be made to be quiet and give the kids a good kiss, not a bite.<br><br>
She should not get affection unless she does something for it. Don't ever pet her or show her love unless she has her ears back, tail down, and is submissive and calm. If she's jumping on you, ears up, don't pet her. Ignore her or even correct her. If she's fearful, running away, also don't touch her. Wait for her to be sitting or standing with a nice calm aura, and then give affection and love.<br><br>
She needs a crate inside, and should be crate-trained. She should not be given free run of the house. You need to supervise ALL dog-kid interaction very closely for at least another few weeks, so plan on gating off a portion of your kitchen or another easy room so you can put her away when she starts getting too crazy or you can't watch/supervise the action.<br><br>
THEN, she needs to learn bite inhibition, which is what she didn't learn from her litter because she was taken out too soon. One of the best things you can do for her is get her in a pack of dogs. Puppy daycare would be perfect. She needs to learn that if you bite hard, nobody likes you anymore.<br><br>
There are good tools for dealing with a dog who is very dominant/aggressive, but I'm concerned that a lot of this may be fear. If you use dominant tools on a fearful dog, you make it exponentially worse. So I'd recommend that you check out the Monks of New Skete books, which outline the best tools for dominant dogs, but you also invest in one more evaluation with a trainer or behaviorist. You need to know that this isn't fear aggression or panic aggression before you start actually putting hands on the dog.<br><br>
Cockers have a reputation for bad temperaments, but I'm honestly not reading that in this situation--at least as described. I think this is a totally confused, out of control puppy who needs to have her world become very clear and very well controlled. Once she knows what to do and knows that she can expect a stable response from everyone around her, she'll start wanting to please you. Once you see that lightbulb go on--and I think it will--then you can start using the kids to train her. My two-year-old knows that she can't ever give Clue a treat without asking for a behavior, so she'll come and get a piece of liver from me and go over and make Clue sit. She gets a huge kick out of it, and it's a great lesson for the dog as well. Those moments are going to become more and more common and normal as you get control over and provide a stable environment for the puppy.<br><br>
Good luck and please keep us updated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I completely agree with you. I thought I had read plenty on puppies, but then my friend told me that she recommends people take the puppies at 4 weeks b/c then they bond better with the family instead of learning bad habits from the litter. About a week after getting the puppy, I read more about training, etc. and came across information about when puppies should leave their mothers and why they should stay with her longer.<br><br>
It's unfortunate, because after my friend sold me the puppy I discovered that she was becoming a backyard breeder, which greatly disturbed me, and our friendship ended after I offered constructive critisicm about the whole situation. I quite honestly am not sure it would be a good situation for the puppy to go back to her house. The puppy's parents are fine acting. Hyper, yes, but gentle and sweet enough. I've come to understand that cocker spaniels are hyper dogs in general (not really what I was looking for, unfortunately).<br><br>
I've had older dogs/puppies many times in my life, and greatly enjoy them. We also had our puppy's mother at our house for about a week and the kids just loved her and cuddled/played gently with her a lot. I think my kids would love a gentle, patient dog (of course with many limits and rules to respect the dogs needs). I have many very young, happy memories of my dad's senior german shephard. I would love for my kids to have that as well.<br><br>
Thanks for your response... It's nice to know that biting isn't as normal as a few folks have made it out to be around here. It just doesn't seem normal to me. Nipping, yes, biting, no.<br><br>
Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, thekimballs, for your insight.<br><br>
I think I've got her day structured quite a bit, honestly. She's crate trained, and sleeps in there, and I put her in there when I can tell she needs some quiet time during the day. I did have a baby gate in the bathroom door, and her in there, but the kids would either knock down the gate or get her out somehow. She also would whine loudly constantly and take a good 30 min. after she saw or heard someone to quiet down (with us ignoring her). So I've been sticking her outside to run around and play (which has worked fine since it's been warmer - but I'm a little worried come summer and the kids want to play outside). I always take her on a walk first thing in the morning, and feed her immediately after. Then she goes outside with her water dish and a toy. We let her in periodically throughout the day to play with her when it's supervised by me. I feed her another meal mid-day, and then dinner, and a couple hours later another long walk, and then to her kennel for the night.<br><br>
When she goes for the kids to bite (and it typically it isn't aggressive seeming, it's more playful and super hyper), I immediately snap my fingers to distract her focus and make a noise like "eph!" She knows what it means and she stops momentarily and draws back to go run around the room a few times. The trainer showed me that if I have done that once - maybe twice and she barks back at me (she called it "arguing") and then continues to bite, to lay her on the ground and gently hold her until she relaxes and calms down enough to play nice.<br><br>
I guess I forgot to mention, she doesn't just bite the kids...she bites me and dh as well. I know how to hold her and pet her so she won't bite me, but when I walk around the house and she follows she constantly bites my heels and toes and grabs ahold of the back of my pants or jumps to bite behind my knee. All super hyper, psycho acting... not agressive really. I also usually ignore her until she's a bit calmer (she never completely calms down unless she's asleep <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> ), and then I'll praise her and give her a cuddle and some attention.<br><br>
The trainer is a police/working dog trainer and had brought her 5 german shephards in her truck (she never got them out, b/c we didn't need them this time), and they were all very obedient and quiet. She said she did basically what Cesar Millan does, which I thought was a great find for the small town we live in.<br><br>
I've taught her to sit, and I make her do so before coming in the door, getting her food dish, getting treats, etc. She's far too hyper to "get" any other commands (I've worked on it, and she just gets more and more hyper as the training continues - and I do it in a quiet room away from the kids), so we've just stuck with sit.<br><br>
I feel like I've really tried to do as much as possible with her. I know I could do more, but I also have young kids...so that makes it really hard, iykwim.<br><br>
Hmmm....<br><br>
???<br><br>
Thanks for letting me discuss this! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I think your kids are too young and you've got too much else going on to manage a dog right now. I would re-home her immediately.<br><br>
From the dog's perspective, I'd bite, too, if I got picked up by the skin and kicked at.
 

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I just went and checked out your posts on your current family situation.<br><br>
I think if the kids are not able to be kept under control, no breaking baby gates, no touching, no kicking and hitting, only calm around the dog, I would rehome this puppy.<br><br>
And then I would not get another dog until the kids are well under control and able to follow directions consistently. Even another year or two will help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just wanted to update those who replied to my original post on the puppy situation.<br><br>
I found a local dog trainer who loves and trains specifically cocker spaniels. She came over and tried to help. A few days later I emailed her with how I felt about the whole situation, and she replied with some very interesting things I did not realize. According to her (and I'm finding this to be true for others as well), cocker spaniels are not generally good with young kids, and in fact are at the top with a few other breeds that bite frequently. In fact they're sporting dogs, which is what her specialty is - she trains them to do what they were bred to do: hunt and agility training.<br><br>
Also, my puppy was from a friend who does backyard breeding (didn't realize this fact until *after* I got the puppy), and supposedly cockers are very overbred and typically inbred (which is true in this situation), and their temperament is very hard to predict if you don't get them from highly esteemed breeders.<br><br>
That's not to say there aren't some great tempered cockers out there, it just means that care is not being given to the breeding, so *generally* there are a lot of problems with them.<br><br>
Anyhow, we decided that the trainer would take my puppy, train her, work with her behavioral problems, and then find her the perfect home suited for her personality, etc.<br><br>
She came and got her earlier this week, and things are going great. She lives on 20 acres with 5 other cockers, so the puppy has been having a blast. She did say that the puppy has the worst submissive peeing problem she's ever seen in a cocker puppy (compliments to being talked into getting her at 5 weeks when everything scares the poor things), but she has excellent endurance, a sunny personality and great potential.<br><br>
She's even already found the puppy a new home in San Diego, with an older couple who just lost their cocker to cancer. They are reputable cocker hunting trainers, so that's what my puppy will be. She will be a great companion dog for this couple as well as an excellent hunting dog (in a sporting sense).<br><br>
So all has worked out well, and I'm extremely happy she gets to go to such an amazing home! She will live a very happy life.<br><br>
In the meantime, I've learned a LOT about different breeds and their temperaments, and realized that just because a dog is cute doesn't mean their temperament will work out for your family.<br><br>
I've currently decided to get a rescue dog, probably a much bigger dog, and an older dog. I've been looking on the Animal Planet breed selector list and done their quiz. I think something like a labrador retriever or golden retriever, mix of the two, or with someone else - calm but active - is what we'll look for.<br><br>
We have a few things to work through right now, plus finish fencing our yard, and I think then it will be time (a few months+).<br><br>
Thanks for everyone's suggestions and insights. I have learned so much from this experience. Not to mention I truly understand now how important it is to avoid backyard breeders, and rescue a sweet dog that might not have a chance otherwise!<br><br>
Thanks again,<br>
Sarah
 

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I hadn't read this thread before, but I am SOOO glad you rehomed that dog. It sounds like the pup will be much happier in her new home, and you'd be happier with a different dog.<br>
Unfortunately, I know how it feels to get the wrong breed. It's heartbreaking isn't it, to know that you made a huge mistake (even though it was before you knew better). As they say, when you know better, you do better.<br><br>
Hopefully you'll get lots of good advice on which breeds would be best suited to your family. I did the animal planet selector, and it wasn't very accurate, I found. It suggested dogs that had high excercise needs, and that was just about the only thing that I am SURE I don't want. lol<br>
Here are two sites that I am finding very helpful<br><a href="http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/" target="_blank">http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/</a> (I love that this one is sooo honest and blunt)<br><a href="http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/index.htm" target="_blank">http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/index.htm</a>
 

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I got the wrong breed of dog many years ago . . .from a PUPPY MILL. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> I did no research-- he was small (a fox terrier), wouldn't shed (my then boyfriend was allergic to other types), and I thought since I was buying him from a small, family pet shop in a little town he was from a breeder (but did I ask? NO).<br><br>
Anyway, it took me years to housetrain him. 6, to be exact. I took him to private trainers that said they'd never met a dog like him. I could never get him to walk correctly on a leash (and we lived in an apt., so I had to walk him several times a day). He also did not get along with my now-DH's cats. (We had to keep them in separate rooms.) Before we had children, we decided we had to find him a new home since I couldn't walk him with the children (he was too out of control). It took me a year to find the right home-- I needed someone who knew fox terriers and loved them, and someone who would keep him as an indoor dog.<br><br>
We found a home for him with a retired man who loved f. terriers . . .he let the dog have his own bedroom. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> His DD had a fox terrier who was even in their family picture, so we knew it was all good. We visited him several months later and both the dog and man were very happy!<br><br>
Ack. Live and learn! I'm glad it worked out!
 
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