14th September 2013, 06:51 PM
Help..10 month old growling at my son!
Hi all, a week ago we found a very reputable breeder and rang to be popped on their waiting list for a cavalier puppy. They explained they had a 10 month old puppy there that was pretty much perfect in every way and would make a perfect family pet...so, we wnt to see him with the children and he seemed fine with them. I asked about socialization and he was raised with children of similar age to mine and was sweet as can be..so we brought him home.
He is a very sweet, gently and loving dog, but VERY insecure and jumpy. I put this down to his change of surroundings and thought this would change once he settled in as it is a big upheaval for him...looks like he hasn't been well socialized though. Anyway, all of his interaction with my children have been supervised. We have read the book 'the perfect puppy' by gwen bailey and shared all the info with the children (Ages 8 & 14). They are very gentle with him and take care not to bother him when he is eating/sleeping etc. It's a pretty calm house and I've made sure the children aren't rowdy around him so as to not stress him out.... a few days ago he had a chew and as my 8 year old son walked past he growled at him. This wasn't ideal, but I explained to my son to take care not to go too near when he as a treat/toy etc, and he has been. Today, I was lying on my bed watching to with the dog at my side when my 8 year old came in to talk to me. He stood at the side of the bed for a minute chatting and went to stroke the dog (who was awake) as he was leaving. The dog growled at him. He didn't have a toy or chew so wasn't guarding food. I have taken care for my son to be the main one to feed him and give him treats, etc. and I am a calm 'pack leader'...taken all the steps like going through door first etc.. I'm very worried about this and starting to think we should have stuck to the original plan and had a very small puppy as we have no idea what this little dog had experienced in the past. Am I blowing this out of proportion or am I right to be very very concerned? Please help!
15th September 2013, 02:22 PM
As I was reading your post, my cavalier and my 5 year old were involved in a favorite activity, sharing a snack! (don't worry it was raw carrot sticks) I am both very lucky and have worked very hard to help my kids and Fletcher my cavalier have a great relationship. I do not think you are blowing this out of proportion. I think your dog may be showing signs of guarding high value items- you and treats. Yes, I do thing it has a lot to do with the change in homes however it is still unwanted behavior. Good news is cavaliers are so smart training away from this shouldn't be too difficult AND you have the added benefit of having older kids who will not require as much "training" as my little one did. I know for a fact I spent way more time training my kid than my dog.
Look up info about guarding behavior on here. I'm pretty sure you will find some good strategies.
"If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
15th September 2013, 03:11 PM
Hi, I would get a professional trainer involved asap. Your little pup needs to know from the word off that this is unacceptable behaviour.........cavaliers are the best companions.....for kids and adults alike but safety has to be your priority for your children.....good luck
Momma to Leonardo (Leo to his friends)
16th September 2013, 02:27 AM
You are not overreacting at all. Cavaliers are normally great with kids and have such an even tempered disposition. I could stick my hand in Bosco's mouth then he was eating without issue. I would call your breeder and explain what is going on and ask for suggestions. Maybe there is more to the story, as it does seem a bit unusual that a 10 month old CKC is suddenly available. Getting the trainer involved is a great idea too.
16th September 2013, 02:42 AM
I feel really bad that this is your first experience with a cavalier. Cavaliers are supposed to be the best laid back dog ever. But a dog is a dog. Personally I think you should return the dog and start over. I really feel children need a great experience with their childhood dog. You sound like a great parent that has taught your kids to be gentle to animals, so I am sure they will be good with a younger pup.
owned by BratBoy ^see avatar
16th September 2013, 06:32 AM
Have you called the breeder? I'd start there, but I would have some concerns. A cavalier, especially one well socialised as any dog should be by this one's age, should not be nervous and jumpy, especially around calm and friendly older kids (unpredictable toddlers can be another story for some dogs, especially left unsupervised -- dogs and/or kids!) and really shouldn't be showing guarding behaviour out of the blue. This sounds like classic guarding behaviour. It is a common issue, but can get seriously problematical and mostly starts to appear because an owner (the breeder, not you! ) hasn't done much, or perhaps anything, from early on to positively train a puppy not to have the issue...
It isn't necessarily a big issue if dealt with (never ever by punishment or 'rank reduction' training approaches etc all of which generally make the problem worse and can induce real fear aggression too). I'd check Dr Ian Dunbar's free download book After You Get Your Puppy at www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads as a starting point and there are lots of great trainers giving advice around this area on the website; also see www.dogspelledforward.com.
Personally, I would side with trainers who find old methods of going first through doorways, making sure dogs are at a lower level, pretending to eat first etc, a bit pointless (although there *are* useful safety pluses to having dogs always wait before they go through a doorway of course! ). This isn't really the issue with a guarding dog -- and dogs truly are not plotting to take over the house -- they will however always benefit from structure, training, and clear house rules taught in a positive way (same with human kids! ).
The larger question might be, the breeder and why this dog was available.... And whether despite outward appearances, this is the responsible and reputable breeder they might have seemed to be. Sadly many breeders can be very deceptive. I'd wonder why they were rehoming a 'perfect in every way' dog nearly a year old? Why wasn't a dog of that age better socialised by a good breeder? How much time did they spend talking through the breed? Did they show you MRI certs, heart certs etc for both parents and talk through health history on both sides? These are all things I would expect of a reputable and responsible cavalier breeder, in particular. In addition a good breeder would definitely want to know, and would help, if there were any concerns or problems, training questions etc.
If you feel there are going to be issues and are concerned about taking on some extra training, then I'd return the puppy. Though again, growling to defend a (high value item like a) chew is not uncommon even with dogs trained to give up items happily... and if this pup has not actually been very well socialised, perhaps not to children really much at all, or if he is anxious, then guarding you on the bed or sofa also is not an uncommon behaviour though obviously not acceptable and does need addressing.
If you feel you wish to hold on to this fellow and work on this, certainly at his age he is more than overdue a good positive methods training class with a good trainer who can give advice on things to do at home with him to work on this specific issue and also view his behaviour and socialisation generally. A group class is really important for socialising any dog to both a wide range of people, dogs, noises, distractions etc -- a dog cannot ever get enough of this kind of structured activity and exposure, at any age.
I'd look for a class with a CCPDT certified trainer -- or APDT -- each organisation has a website where you can look up trainers local to a geographic area, with international listings.
Pinned to the training section is a whole list of trainer sites that all would have advice as well on resource guarding but I think you'd really want to get in and talk to an actual trainer that can meet your new puppy, and get involved in a class, if you are sure you want your pup to stay with your family.
I would advise getting insurance as well as this is a breed prone to some potentially serious health issues.
In memory: Lucy
Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com
Post Thanks / Like - 2 Thanks, 0 Likes
17th September 2013, 11:22 AM
Thank you all so much for the advice, its greatly appreciated! I've taken it on board and we have been incident free for several days. One other thing that i should mention is that he has constantly got an intermittent shakeing.....every 5 - 10 secont bobby shakes for several seconds. I assumed it must be nerves as he hasnt been with us long, but the regularity of it would suggest something else. It's not the same shake as when affraid...he shakes like anything when he sees a cat, but that is a different thing. I'm thinking a thorough check up in the vets is needed!
17th September 2013, 11:11 PM
This is not normal in any 10 month old puppy. You need to get advice from a vet.
Originally Posted by handbagsandgladrags
It may be a good idea to take a couple of videos of the shaking behaviour to show the vet ( dogs so often stop doing problematic things once they set paws in the vet's surgery )
Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi
19th September 2013, 12:15 AM
Like yourself I bought an 11-month old cav from a friend of his breeder. His breeder was ill and unable to care for her dogs so her friend helped out. He was skinny and afraid of everything.
Three months later his tail was up, not between his legs and he was confident and friendly towards strangers. As his confidence increased aggression came with it. He is a great little dog with me but every time my husband comes into the room he is growled at and sometimes Charlie advances towards him. Once my husband felt his teeth.
At the time of purchase he was neither house nor leash trained.
Charlie is now 8-years old, has growled at well- behaved children for no reason I can detect.
I have not been able to stop the growling and he has SM. A trainer was unable to help. At obedience school He was a star--did everything well.
He's my dog, I'm responsible for him--I'm not complaining just explaining.
I've come to accept the growling is just part of him but gosh I wish things were different.
Last edited by rubles; 19th September 2013 at 01:40 PM.
19th September 2013, 05:21 AM
Agree with Margaret here -- that is definitely something to discuss with a vet and do try and capture it on video if you can. This is a breed unfortunately with some endemic neurological problems. You are right that shaking like this would definitely not be due to nervousness. Be sure your vet is aware of some of the breed health issues such as episodic falling, epilepsy and syringomyelia.
To be honest, I cannot imagine the breeder was unaware of all the things you have described -- it's hard to imagine that a breeder attentive to their dogs could have missed all these things. I would feel perhaps these are reasons they have tried to move this dog along. Do you have a contract with them and proof of purchase? You may find you will wish to try and recover some potential costs. I would save any emails you have or any written correspondence as well.
PS a good breeder generally would rehome a dog with a full vet check signed off by their vet, in writing (including for older dogs -- I have had this as the norm, for a retired breeding girl age 6, as well as puppies) and the breeder would have encouraged -- often, required by contract -- a new owner to immediately arrange (usually within a couple of days) for their own vet to check the dog.
In memory: Lucy
Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com