Help with Hav Aggression and my Daughter - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 30
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Submissions 0 Times in 0 Posts
Help with Hav Aggression and my Daughter

My havanese pup is just shy of 6 months old. I plan to have him neutered at 6 months (not sure if that's important, but wanted to add). I have a very intelligent 2 1/2 year old daughter with a mean streak. She is usually really great with him, but sometimes she gets rough.

He has just started to growl and nip at her sometimes when she pushes him too much. I know this is a normal reaction on his part, and I try my very best to keep her from doing these things, but I don't always catch it in time. I am worried that he will develop an aversion to children, and I'm not sure what to do.

Did I, pardon the pun, bite off more than I can chew? Should I re-home him now before he gets worse and is difficult to rehome? We really love him, but I don't want to see this get out of control. I am concerned for my daughter's safety, but maybe more than that, I'm worried about ruining a good dog. I do want to add that the breeder mentioned his mom is pretty aggressive, and planned to only have one more litter out of her because of this. I didn't know this until after we had him.
havajava is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 03:12 PM
Senior Member
Beamer's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada!
Posts: 4,155
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Submissions 16 Times in 6 Posts
Thats to bad that there is a problem between your daughter and Scout. Must be hard to manage a 2.5yr old child and a 6month old puppy.... Did your breeder offer to take him back with a refund? Not sure why your breeder is breeding the dog still if she knows she is very aggresive? 1 more litter? Might as well be 5... (I'm just kiddin.. :P)


Beamer is offline  
post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 03:23 PM
Sooo Smart
LuvCicero's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Georgia
Posts: 3,551
Submit Photo: 9
Photo Submissions 22 Times in 12 Posts
Your breeder should have told you that information "especially" if she knew you had a 2 & 1/2 year old daughter. I would be upset about that. Also, you daughter is at the age - like all kids - that she does not understand how to treat a dog at all times. I do think dogs just try to protect themselves if they feel someone is going to push, pull hair, hit, etc. I would hate for your daughter to be hurt and get fearful of dogs. I've also seen dogs be on the alert around any kids because of mistrust. This is a hard call. I think only you can decide since you witness how they both react with each other. You just have to try to decide what is the best for 'both'.

Cicero trained Dale & Ronnie
LuvCicero is offline  
post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 03:39 PM
Total Havanese Groupie
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 2,639
Submit Photo: 7
Photo Submissions 37 Times in 16 Posts
Hey Havajava,
I sent this to a person who was planning on rehoming her Maltese, for very similar reasons, and has now decided to keep her. It's fine that she decided to keep her, but I wanted her to know that there would be work for her to do...Please don't think I'm judging you by sharing this. When my son was three years old, he and my dane started having some "issues" and most of this advice I learned by making my own mistakes and by talking with people that had really great wisdom. I really wanted to keep my dane, so I did a lot of work and everything turned out for the best and he got to stay with our family and he and my son became great friends. Okay, so here is my lengthy advice! And remember it's only my opinion, like Dale said, this is really up to you and your family to decide.
I don't think badly of you, I know how difficult it is. I really do. Thanks for getting back to me.

I do think that you are a great animal mommy and that maybe the timing has been difficult with your little one and such a little dog. Would you be open to going back to training with your Maltese? Actually, I don't know if you ever did take her to obedience, but I think every thing she's doing is really reversible if you really want to keep her. I'm sorry if I'm overstepping my boundaries, as I don't know you, and please take this for what it's worth-2 cents, as that's what my opinion boils down to. This is what I would do if I were in a similar position (and I was, sort of, with my dane).

1. Enroll in basic obedience classes with her ASAP. I am sure there are some classes around Buffalo, but I do recommend my trainers highly. They just started a new basic obedience session this week, but I'm sure they would let you start next week. I didn't want to come off strongly on the phone with you, so I didn't say this then, but it is not okay that she is growling at any one in your house, even if your son is "torturing" her. It shouldn't be looked at as "well, she's a dog so she's going to growl because he's harassing her." I let my dane growl at my four year old, mainly because I knew he was torturing him. I now know this was a huge mistake. If my Posh growls at Violet (four year old) even when Violet is being a little turd, I instantly get on Posh's case (by telling her no growl/in a growly voice and I grab her by the cheeks), and later reprimand Violet. Posh must know immediately that this is not okay with me, the pack leader, and that Violet is higher up on the pack order then Posh is. I do not allow any growling whatsoever with my dog, ever. Basic obedience will help you to learn how to help Daisy use her mind and learn some manners so that you can control her want to "show these kids she's the alpha." It would also be a very good time for bonding, so I don't know if your husband would go too, you could alternate weeks, but once he sees how smart and good she can be after learning some "tricks" he may start to bond with her. Maltese are extremely smart dogs, and although they don't need the physical exercise of the walk, they need the mental exercise of it (healing, sitting, minding on a leash, not pulling on a harness which actually gives them the sensation they should pull-notice that's what they use on sled dogs.) This training time would also get some good positive doggy socialization time, so she stops lunging at the other dogs. As you said, this is really not safe behavior for her.

2. Set some rules for your four year old, and help him by buying his own "Daisy." My daughter has a little dog that looks like Posh that I bought her at Target, here is a link that takes you to the Maltese version:
Violet is allowed to brush (even with my nice brushes for Posh), hold, "walk" on a leash (usually using Posh's leads), dress up and care for this Posh. When she wants to do something to the living Posh e.g. hold her, I say "go get YOUR Posh, you can hold her." or brush her, walk her, etc...These kids really do want to model our behavior. I would also teach him to sit down, and call her into his lap vs. pick her up, and other small children too. You might want to start doing this as well, and not pick her up for a while and see if he will model this behavior, vs. picking her up. I would also tell stranger kids a fib "don't pick her up, she bites." or tell them you can see my dog, but my rule is you must sit down and get to her level and she will come into your lap and give you "lickies." I would make it a general rule that no one under ten picks her up EVER. They have to sit down and have her walk into their lap, or have her set in their laps by you. Also, can your son give her treats when she sits for him? This will be a nice time for them together. Also, my breeder recommended a time, usually at night, where you flip the dog on their backs like a baby and rub their tummies while quietly talking to them and to involve your children in this cuddle time so they didn't view your kids as something to be crazy around.

3. I would crate her if you can't supervise your preschooler and Daisy. If my kids touch the crate, which is a kid's free zone, they are put in a time out (well the four year old is the only one who tries to bend this rule, and now she's used to it and knows she will get a time out, so she doesn't). When the new baby arrives you will have your hands full during feeding time, especially if you are breast feeding and it's just too tempting for toddlers to pull the "mommy lotto" or "puppy lotto" to see what kind of reaction they can create. I also recommend a "nursey box" full of toys for you little boy to play with while you are feeding the baby. My kids are four years apart and this "saved my day!"

4. What kind of food are you feeding her? This can contribute to so much, including personality and potty issues.

6. If you are using a harness with her, I would stop using it, instead think about getting her a martingale collar for walks. It works like training collar but is much less harsh on her little neck. I have ordered one of these for Posh
it is really nice and stops her from pulling/choking herself. Although, she walks really pretty nicely on a leash. The harness only gives them the sensation that they should pull, as I said above they use harness on sled dogs for this very reason.

Well, this has turned out to be a novel. And, again, I'm sorry if I have overstepped my boundaries with all my crazy dog lady advice. I totally understand where you are coming from and have only gained my knowledge by making my own mistakes. I had a dane who was sometimes scary, even to me, because I allowed him to be ahead of me in the pack order, which made him lack confidence. I wasn't consistent, he bugged every one, especially my husband, and he lived his days never really being all the dog he could be. Truly, I have been in your position and it is so hard, especially so when you are just trying to give everybody, husband, kids, dogs, cats your loving care. Which I know is exactly what you are trying to do.
Posh's Mom is offline  
post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 30
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Submissions 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks everyone and Amy, your advice is great. I tried to take Scout to basic obedience puppy classes, but the trainer seemed to have forgotten that it was really a continuing obedience/rally class. I plan to get him started at another local class asap.

I have no problem asserting my pack leader dominance, and am glad to know that this is something I should be doing in this situation. I do crate him when I know I can't watch what they are up to. I do want to keep him, and have no issues putting in the work, I just wasn't sure if I was on the right track or not.

I don't feel judged at all-I am by no means perfect, and I am seeking advice so that I can do what is best for our family and Scout.

As for the breeder-not sure she knew the issues until after we had spoken for Scout. She got the pg mama as part of a deal with another breeder. Anyway, not sure what happened there, but I think it's only part of the problem.

Does anyone think neutering him will help any?
havajava is offline  
post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 04:25 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Ca
Posts: 1,672
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Nominations 1 Time in 1 Post
Neutering does make a difference but you might want to wait a little while longer before you neuter him .. That requires trips to the vet and hands on observation and attention for a few days and right now you have enough going on ..
It might be better to improve thee dynamics and behaviour first ..
The important thing you need to pay attention to here is the age of your puppy and the age of your daughter .. They are both very young and they need some guidance , attention and help right now .. They need you to set some guidelines as to what is acceptable behaviour in a positive non threatening but serious message ..
Your puppy is just starting to mature and assert himself and your daughter is going through the terrible twos .. You need to teach your daughter this is not OK to harass the puppy and she needs to be gentle .. You need to teach the puppy to be gentle as well ..
You need some help here and not just to act as a referee .. You need to find a puppy class and read some books on puppies and their behaviour .. If you cannot watch them all the time they give your daughter and the puppy a time out .. time away from one another Put him some place safe in a crate or an X pen where you daughter can look but not touch ..
You need to teach them mutual respect and appreciation . You need to teach the puppy the meaning of gentle and No Bite and you need to teach your daughter gentle and no when it comes to teasing the puppy ..
Patience and persistence. Do not be afraid to treat them like you would with siblings .
These are very smart dogs and they will learn in time .
Cosmosmom is offline  
post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 04:34 PM
Senior Member
mintchip's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: SF area
Posts: 6,425
Submit Photo: 63
Photo Submissions 62 Times in 48 Posts
I know there is a video out teaching children how to "act" around dogs. I think it is by Dr. Ian Dunbar.
(just a quick thought do you think Scout smells food on your daughter.........this isn't meant to be mean but you know how messy kids can be when they eat.)

Sally,((Oliver)) Comet and Pennie too!
The best things in life are not things!
mintchip is offline  
post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-24-2008, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 30
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Submissions 0 Times in 0 Posts
I don't take offense to what anyone is saying I do want to add that I am not by any means a new puppy owner. I raised a pom and had her for 12 years, and she was a great little dog. Now we have a GSP and Weim which are both behaved with no aggression issues.
I think it's like you said cosmosmom-they are both in a time of learning what their boundaries are. I do let my daughter know what is and is not acceptable, but it only goes so far-she's 2!
As far as neutering him goes, I'm not feeling like I can't handle his needs when he comes home after that. He has a crate and enclosed back room, and I have a retired grandma who loves to spend time with her granddaughter, and a wonderful supportive husband We can keep everyones needs met during that time .
Thanks everyone for all of the help!
havajava is offline  
post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 27
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Submissions 0 Times in 0 Posts
Same situation

I've been meaning to reply to you b/c our Hav is 6mos and I have a 2.5 and a 4 year's a handful! My 8 year old is great with our Hav and it's her baby. But when she's a school I do find it hard to keep their interaction always positive. It's my 4 year old that can get a tad physical with him when he nips (playfully) at her or he gets annoyed with her always trying to pick him up he will growl. He's never shown his teeth or tried to bite her ever- which is why I choose this breed b/c they are generally sweet little girls so I thought they'd be ok with the dog. I find I do have him in his xpen probably too much to keep them seperated. Plus he's not 100% potty trained so he does need to be contained. So I feel your pain------how are things going lately. I have been shopping for baby gates to give him a bigger area in our house but our house is really open so I'm not having much luck.....
Enjoy your day!
3girlsluvHav is offline  
post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 30
Submit Photo: 0
Photo Submissions 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the reply Alycia-I also chose the Hav partly because of their good nature with children. We are going back and forth on keeping him.

He has a barking problem as well (had it since we got him) and we're looking into a better way to work on this. It drives me insane when I separate him from my daughter and he barks the whole time!

He is set to get neutered this Friday, and I'm signing up for puppy classes after that.

I think that he is doing a lot of the same growling reaction as your puppy. It so hard to decide if we are the right home for him or not. I just don't want to keep him longer and then decide he needs to be somewhere else. Not sure what to do!
havajava is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome