KobiD

Puppy and Children interaction / general training

34 posts in this topic

Hello everyone,

 

Hoping some people can shed some light and share some advice in how you all handle puppy and child interactions.

 

Our family has a 3 month old mixed rescue pup (staffy x), 7 year old son, 2 and a bit year old daughter, myself and my wifey.

 

We've had her just over a month now and been very active with positive re-enforcement and she's a very bright pup. During a training session with a well loaded marker she'll pump out combo's of sit, lay down, paw, bop (nose targeting), come, stay, etc without fail. She'll already hold a stay as long as you ask at dinner time and wait on release before hooking in. Overall we're pleased with how she's coming along. She is also learning to walk on a loose leash well and becoming indifferent to just about everything she's seen (bikes, people, dogs, birds, cars, kids, mowers, etc).

 

With the children she likes to get excited and play a bit, jumping up and licking, which then often changes to some mouthing on the arms, all in a hear beat. My son at 7 is pretty good at ignoring the behaviour and unless if its afternoon crazies time she'll be OK (otherwise she just wants to chew his ankles while he ignores). My daughter on the other hand is an easy target. 7.5kgs puppy vs 12kgs of child means when she jumps my daughter gets pushes around. She only wants to lick, but the action and size between them means I need to step in, while my daughter usually swings her arms trying to create difference; usually inspiring the puppy to mouth at her hand/arm. If I step between she's often already wound up (in an instant) and see's my arm and hands as fair targets, and disregards any redirection. Separation and time out occurs but I feel things have escalated by then and often my daughter resists being told play time is over causing another challenge in itself.

 

How do people handle situations like this? I'd like to get things on the right track before the puppy is bigger than my daughter.

 

The kids and dog are never alone unsupervised. 7 year old and wifey both feed the dog and she will comply with commands. 2 year old can get the dog to sit, and hand feeds during the day. She can ride her trike around without being bailed or harassed, and I often mark and reward positive behaviour through the day.

 

After writing this I feel it's mostly happening around crazies hour. By afternoon everyone is tired, patience wears thin on my fronts, and puppy zoomies are full swing. Perhaps it's best to keep them separate at this time for now.

 

I also have some questions re treats and fading/reducing. Little jojo (puppy) seems intelligent enough to be aware if I have no treats and often will test a bit. In a session with treats on she's 100% food driven and focussed. Playing with the toys if she's in the mood I can get work drive out of her quite well (leave it, drop it, get it, sit, etc). I always have treats in my pocket and have started trying to reward her variably, for behaviour of known commands, but she gets bit inconsistent herself. Will probably just take some more getting used to. It's early days.

 

First time owner, learning to swim.

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Thanks,

 

I have read that one a couple times. I've had a good research before posting the questions and can't really find any solid answers or advice.

 

What I need to do is work out a way to reduce the value of the child to the puppy, or increase the respect the puppy has for the child.

The child is too small (and immature) to consistently put the dog in place (stand still, ignore behaviour, etc).

Every time the puppy jumps up and pushes the little one back, it gets a reaction which is self rewarding behaviour, meaning excitement levels rise on both parties.

Using a leash to inhibit dogs ability is challenging, as I feel any holding/tension on the leash will either a) influence the puppy to dislike the leash, or b) increase her drive to get to the child.

 

I think success will be in the form of select, short, positive encounters. Ie come outside, put dog on leash, work some drills, introduce child and manage excitement levels through distance. Only allow children to make contact when dog is calm. Reward the puppy for calm contact in return. Ie lead past the child and a sniff or lick with all 4 paws = mark and treat. Any jumping results in end of session and separation.

 

Adding to that, I think dinner time could include the 2yo giving the sit-stay and release.. if she is in a co-operating mood. We could drill this multiple times a day with smaller servings to get the message home.

 

All in all, it's not a bad situation. Just one that is taking a little more patience. With both child and puppy being mentally immature it leaves 2 variables to try and influence into performing the wanted behaviours. If one goes off topic both do, and so it goes.

 

I don't want to keep them separate either, the whole point of a puppy is to integrate into the family, so we can all spend some time outside together throwing balls and having fun.

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I just wanted to say that I think you are doing a great job and you seem to be educating yourself very well! 

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1 hour ago, KobiD said:

Thanks,

 

I have read that one a couple times. I've had a good research before posting the questions and can't really find any solid answers or advice.

 

What I need to do is work out a way to reduce the value of the child to the puppy, or increase the respect the puppy has for the child.

The child is too small (and immature) to consistently put the dog in place (stand still, ignore behaviour, etc).

Every time the puppy jumps up and pushes the little one back, it gets a reaction which is self rewarding behaviour, meaning excitement levels rise on both parties.

Using a leash to inhibit dogs ability is challenging, as I feel any holding/tension on the leash will either a) influence the puppy to dislike the leash, or b) increase her drive to get to the child.

 

I think success will be in the form of select, short, positive encounters. Ie come outside, put dog on leash, work some drills, introduce child and manage excitement levels through distance. Only allow children to make contact when dog is calm. Reward the puppy for calm contact in return. Ie lead past the child and a sniff or lick with all 4 paws = mark and treat. Any jumping results in end of session and separation.

 

Adding to that, I think dinner time could include the 2yo giving the sit-stay and release.. if she is in a co-operating mood. We could drill this multiple times a day with smaller servings to get the message home.

 

All in all, it's not a bad situation. Just one that is taking a little more patience. With both child and puppy being mentally immature it leaves 2 variables to try and influence into performing the wanted behaviours. If one goes off topic both do, and so it goes.

 

I don't want to keep them separate either, the whole point of a puppy is to integrate into the family, so we can all spend some time outside together throwing balls and having fun.

Great approach - love that you're thinking about all this! I don't have kids but I have 3 energetic indoor dogs (10 years, 6 years and her daughter, nearly 2 years) plus 2 indoor cats plus I breed occasionally. What I love for the youngster is a large indoor pen with an open crate. It was invaluable in the first 12 months. If I could not directly supervise her, pup was in the pen. It meant I could keep her separate from her Mama and the cats. She was just over exuberant and still wipes the felines off the bed with a single tail wag. It meant I could ensure she didn't chew stuff. That I could keep on top of her toilet training. I had baby gates blocking her from the bedrooms. Lifesaver. The pen was right in the midst of our living area so she missed nothing. I could toss dry food or treats at her when she was lying quietly. She had to sit to be released from the pen. She had PLENTY of exercise and freedom and lots of training. I would reinforce her for lying on a bed next to me as the cats walked past. THAT was a tough one and she still adores them. 

Papillon Kisses and RuralPug like this

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Thanks for the kind words.

 

We definitely have the dogs and children separated unless supervised. I think the key is to approach it in short manageable sessions. A few minutes here and there and then build it up, the same way you would when teaching a dog anything.

 

We also have a purebred ragdoll which is an indoor cat only. Sessions between the cat and puppy have been often, and always with lots of praise. She hasn't shown any real desire or drive towards the cat at this stage, but the cat is so mellow that he hardly inspires a response.

 

My post last night was after a somewhat challenging day/evening. Good to write it out and reflect on it, with a clear head and a new day.

 

We've started implementing the ideas already and today has gone much smoother.

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We have witching hour, dog and kid (aged 5) go crazy. Usually we manage it by keeping them separated. Kid gets a snack and dog outside with a chew of some sort (usually a kong or pigs ear). Dog then does not come back in until after dinner time (is around us when eating breakfast and lunch so learning table manners still).

 

I then get to cook, talk to my child and dog is safe and happy. Whining usually starts once he hears the table scraps in his bowl and he knows dinner is coming lol.

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my staffy was taught that a hand in a position similar to a stop signal directed at your feet, meant not to jump. That would be easy to teach your puppy and easy for your two year old to do. You could also use your leave it command when the pup gets a bit exuberant. Leave it applies to everything, so you'd be training pup expected behaviour with the toddler as well as reinforcing your leave it training.

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I have four children and I think each one as a toddler has had a pup around. As you are always nearby when they are together, I would let them interact naturally but step in and correct puppy as soon as you see any sign of jumping or mouthing. I do this in the form of a two fingered tap on the nose as strong as is required to get the pup to stop. I don't seperate the two, but try to explain what's happening to the toddler, remain with them until both are calm then move away again. Repeat as many times as necessary. I find this way the two learn to be together and pup learns how and how not to play with children. I also correct any bumping into or pushing I front of little people. Of course rewarding good behaviour as well. 

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A finger pop on the nose does very little to deter this pup. She's strong in the head/determined and physical corrections either don't work very long, or don't work at all. Stepping in between she just refocusses the mischievous behaviour back towards me. Separation is what allows the calm down. I've found having her on leash while interacting still allows them to interact normally, however if she goes to jump I can take the edge off it, and refocus her a bit quicker.

 

On the bright side she is very tolerant of touch and doesn't react to the odd pat that's a bit too firm or cheeky tail pull. Have been conditioning/desensitising her to this to a large extent as well, but naturally she is just a really confident pup. Loves to climb in your lap for a cuddle (but will mouth your arm if you don't have something else for her), and likes a belly rub. Have been trimming nails etc and general grooming without issue as well.

 

We have been training a leave it (move away and look back at me), off (get off the chairs, off the kids, 4 feet on the ground), drop it (spit it out).. She's not an overly jumpy dog to be honest.. it's just the implications of when she does launch herself at the little one. The toddler doesn't really get worked up/scared. She just waves her arms and tells the dog off or at times has laughed her head off that she's been pinned against a wall and having kisses on her face. Regardless of the outcome though, having the pup jump up in her face isn't something I want in their interactions. Sometimes the commands work a treat, other times child/dog are over their threshold to effectively listen.. which leads to the next point.

 

Witching hour!! This sums it up perfectly. It's always late afternoon if/when this happens or after too much time together. I've noticed keeping it short and calm, quick sessions where dog is under threshold and the children have a specific goal to achieve (feed puppy, take the rubbish out, etc) that we can manage it very well. I've found taking the puppy for a walk around the block on leash, practicing loose leash gives her a good mental and physical outlet for her behaviour. Kids would love to come along too and that can be a battle of it's own..

 

If you look at the behaviour and interaction it's definitely time dependant. In the morning everyones full of beans, high energy, excitement.. Morning through mid afternoon allows very positive interaction. By witching hour it's not worth trying. And shortly after they all seem to fall over and get to bed.  

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I gather all your training is done with no distractions hence people think training is going great until pup/dog is placed in an over stimulated environment and puppy ends up in time out or outside.

we suggest all our puppy owners get a puppy pen if they have young children benefit is puppy can have safe time out without being totally excluded or toddler can sit in puppy pen whilst puppy is getting excited and needs to learn to switch off,

i don't teach sit and all that stuff,my guys are show dogs so i want personality but mine grow into big dogs so for me teaching calm around stimulating scenarios is more important,Training is never done in a calm ,boring environment .

All pups here are given there time of being pups,if they want a crazy period then they get it ,it's not encouraged but it's not discouraged ,just like kids they need to have a mental fart moment 

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Not so.

 

Training is varied and isn't structured sessions as much as it is testing for wanted behaviour randomly throughout the day in whatever situation we are in. Sometimes a little distraction, sometimes more. But once over threshold things fall apart.

 

She still gets ample time to express herself in her crazy ways. Her play area has a couple of coconuts and palm fronds which have been trimmed back, and a couple of cardboard boxes. She's free to rough and tumble, chew and thrash them around as much as she wants. When I'm in the yard with her she can zoom and run and crazy and do what she wants as long as it's not my body she's using as a pin cushion.

 

If she crosses the line with me though it's easy for me to step back and redirect to a more desirable behaviour and if she doesn't play that game I simply leave her alone to cool off. It all highlights that we just need to do more work with everyone involved and raise her thresholds some more.

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When my dog is getting a bit rough with another dog or trying to jump on something or someone I don't want her to jump on, I use collar grab...

 

collar grab is a bit like "loading a marker word" ie a game where

you say your dog's name, grab her collar, and stuff a treat in her mouth, release,

allow her to get distracted / bored... then repeat the grab collar, say name (either one first) and stuff treat...

 

repeat at least five times... and then do something else.  eg play a quick game of fetch or tug or fetch and tug.

 

You may find after a few repeats the dog stays pretty focussed on you and the food (if they like food).

 

Gradually you increase criteria to require dog to put neck in hand to get treat (definitely - after the first few do not want to reward a dog that ducks and runs).

And you make the grabs less warning and a little bit more vigorous (imagine grabbing dog before it goes in a swamp or out into traffic or into the paddock with the llamas (which attack and kill dogs).

 

So now you have the collar grab game down (Dog thinks collar grabs are great)

 

If dog jumps or is too rough - you collar grab (no treat required or they might link I'm "naughty" - so I get collar grab *and* treat). 

and hold.

 

and next game is "its yer choice"... variation.

you wait for dog to hold a calm sit while you're holding the collar - you may have to move away from the exciting / distracting thing.

 

When dog can hold a calm sit - you let go the collar to see

what is your dog's choice now.

 

If your dog repeats the behaviour you don't want - be fast to grab the collar again.  You don't need to say anything - this is about getting the dog to choose, you hold and wait for calm...

if you get calm - release to see what dog's choice is now...

 

If the dog repeats the unwanted behaviour now - I would do one more collar grab and put the dog where it cannot repeat the behaviour again. 

 

My dog usually has it figured out by the second collar grab.  That she's not allowed to be jumping on the neighbour's fence any more.   And she stops.

 

If she doesn't, we go inside.

Some dogs might be a little slower but I would not allow more than two choice opportunities for something like jumping on a child.  

 

It's called "response cost" - ie there is a consequence cost to the unwanted choice.   And the reward for a good choice is being allowed to continue playing (gently) with the child.

 

No scolding or nose taps or aversives (other than going on lead or inside or being separated) required.

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Thanks for all the advice.

 

Few good ideas re collar grab too. That is definitely something I can work on, as she's very likely to get mouthy if reaching for the collar when she's excited. It's not aggression, just 'oh a hand!! let me grab it' .. her bite inhibition is coming along nicely, as is her impulse control in general. Marking the collar grab as a reward moment sounds like a good plan. Much like general desensitisation to physical contact.

 

Her recall is building by the day, as is her ability to interact with the children. For those with kids, witching hour can be enough of a challenge handling the little people, let alone adding an animal to the mix.

 

Every day presents opportunities to learn.

Mrs Rusty Bucket and Tassie like this

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"Collar grab" game is very powerful.   We teach it in puppy classes, and it converted a previous dog of mine from a crazy crocodile if his collar was touched, to a dog who would stretch his neck out to play the "Gotcha" game as I called it.      Just a little caution .. although we call it collar grab, the shaping starts with a very light touch from under the chin .. touch mark reward ... rinse and repeat, gradually increasing the touch, then as appropriate, adding 2 hands, and coming in from the side and then the top.       

You can also pair this with the recall ... call, touch collar, mark reward and release to be free again, ... so into the 'bounce' type recall training.

 

Sounds like you're making great progress :).

 

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Where are you based KobiD? It says QLD on your profile but that is the default location so always worth checking.

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We're up the pointy end of the state. 

 

Shouldn't be too hard to implement the collar grab game. Have essentially got it half done, in that she'll sit and allow me to reach under her chin to clip/unclip the leash without any contact or input from her. 

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Ah I was going to see if we could recommend a class/club or trainer. It's 10000 x easier working this in real life rather than explaining over the inter webs. There's often a lot of subtleties missed. I'm a little far away from you though lol

Tassie likes this

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It's all good. 

 

I'm understanding what's being said and would like to think intelligent/observant enough to see what works and what doesn't and how to modify to get results.

 

I'm appreciating all the input and advice given thus far! 

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Just a quick update.

 

Have been putting in a couple sessions when the time is right and seeing improvements already. Puppy has started to associate licking the kids on the hand with reward. Works well as the kids get kisses, opposed to being pushed over.  The little one is still a bit too green to give a command and follow with a treat reliably, so mostly I let her just do her own thing and mark and reward the puppy for positive behaviour and separate them/redirect when puppy is being a bit over excited.

 

Our son hasn't spent a whole lot of time since school is back, but gets at least one feeding session to call his own.

 

We attempted to all go for a walk today, but didn't get out of the driveway. Too much excitement had the dog unable to focus on loose leash walking and wanted to pull after the kids, so we stayed in the yard and worked on some heeling and frequent directional changes instead while the kids acted as the distractions.

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