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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday my bullmastiff growled at my son when he hugged him. This worried me but I don’t know if I am making too much of this or should there be concern, my dog didn’t snap at him and didn’t make any other aggressive move towards him. Hendrix, my mastiff has not been aggressive towards other children before so I am not sure how to handle this. I sent him out side after I scolded him and when I let him back in the house I asked my son to try and hug him again and Hendrix responded well and licked him. My son is in no way aggressive or mean to animals we have two dogs and he loves animals. Any suggestions on what I should do or what not to do?
 

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How old is son and how old is dog?

I wouldn't scold or try to stop a dog from growling. It's the only way he has of telling someone that what they are doing is greatly bothering him. If he can't growl, his next level of telling someone to stop something is to snap. The next level is biting. Although a growl sounds ferocious to us, it's really not meant to be that way by the dog. He is just telling the person in the nicest way he has to stop doing what he is doing.

In the canine world, hugging is an aggressive act. With primates its an act of affection but not with canines. Rather than teach dog not to growl, I would teach son not to hug the dog. I would also teach the son that whenever the dog growls, to stop doing whatever he is doing. My Abby will growl when a child tries to hug her around the neck. She has never snapped or anything else but she lets them know that this act bothers her.
 

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My dog is 10 months old and my son is 5yrs old. What you said makes a lot of sense, my son was hugging him around the neck, the same way you mentioned with your dog, thank you I for the help I will talk with my son today.
 

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Yep my favorite dog trainer in Reno taught us that that's why children will get bitten by dogs most of the time because they go to hug them around the neck and to dogs, that's a very aggressive and oppressive action, so they respond accordingly. And of course since children in this position are right by the dog's face, they're more likely to get bitten.

So far, my dogs don't mind being hugged in the slightest, but if they ever told me they didn't like it anymore I'd have to stop out of consideration for the dog and my safety.
 

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I would definitely teach you son how to properly pet the dog by stroking his back and not the head and not to squeeze the dog or get in the dogs face.

But more importantly, I would also work very hard on teaching the dog that ALL people in the house are the pack leader - INCLUDING the 5 year old. Maybe have your son be the one to feed the dog and make the dog wait patiently and calmly for his food everyday. Teach your son to make the dog do sit or down before he pets him everytime(to establish his authority over the dog and then the dog is also in a calmer position). I also encourage you to take the dog to an obedience class with your son so that your son can work with you and then dog will start to look at him as a pack leader simply because of the training environment. I think if the dog growled at your son he's thinking he's above your son in the household.
 

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I think if the dog growled at your son he's thinking he's above your son in the household.
He will always think he is above the son until the son goes through puberty. Dogs can tell the difference between a child and an adult.
 

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He will always think he is above the son until the son goes through puberty. Dogs can tell the difference between a child and an adult.

My dogs have always known my sons were "kids" and not authority figures. You can tell that the dog considers my youngest as his "brother" just by the different way the dog plays with him. Even though he will listen to my son and do all of his obedience with him, he still wrestles and plays with him like he is another puppy. The vet even told my son that he got chewed on more by the puppy because the puppy considered him a brother.

Rocky will wrestle with boys and chew on them while he's playing but you can't get him to play rough with me at all. I have reached in his mouth and pulled out a piece of bone and he just sits there and lets me take it and doesn't even close his mouth on my hand. I wouldn't tell the boys to do that because they are 'not the Momma' (to quote an old tv show!).

By the way, he is starting to change his behavior around my oldest son but the boy is almost 23 so it's about time he is considered an adult, at least by the dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I spoke with my son and wife and they both understand why Hendrix growled at him. My son is very active with both our dogs he feeds them and makes them sit when he is going to put the food bowls down. We also teach our son to get the dogs to sit and lay down when we do our training. My current dog trainer is very ill with cancer and we are looking for a new one right now. I feel terrible doing that because my wife and I told him we will wait for him to make a full recovery but we need to continue on with training. I want to thank everyone for there input it was very helpful and I will use the tools you all have given me. I have one request from the folks that have replied to my post. As I mentioned earlier in the post my current trainer is ill with cancer, this is terrible in its self but what really hit home for me is he is a veteran who was wounded in combat a few years ago and survived even though the docs told his family he will not make it. The man has been through hell in the past few years, having to relearn how to walk and dress himself ECT. I ask everyone who reads this to wish him the best and hope for a full recovery. Once again thank you for all the help with my current situation, I will keep you all posted on how it goes with my dog as well as with my trainer.
 

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I would just like to put out there that you can also (as the adult and 'leader') teach the dog to like hugs. I know that when I got Owen I spent a lot of time hugging him knowing that if my neice or nephew or any other child were to want to do the same thing, they could. I did the same thing with Titus. Titus will wiggle out of your arms if you hug him and then he comes back and gives you 'kisses' and the wants you to hug him again, but he never gets upset with it. He likes to turn things into games that he can play. (He is also a mastiff-mix) I think that training your son is a good thing, but also train your dog, just in case something were to happen and someone else were to want to hug and you know nothing will happen.
I know that what RFD said is true, but if they can learn to love living in-doors, then they can learn to get hugs! :)
 
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