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Please help! We adopted/rescued our lovable cockapoo 2 years ago when she was 11 months old. We have 4 children and she was great with them from the start. We noticed that she didn't do so well with new men that came into the house... She would bark and growl. We assumed that she must have been mistreated by her original owner (a man). a couple of times she growled at our 6 year old boy because he was being a little too rough with her. We made it his job to feed her and that was quickly fixed. Now, fast forward 2 years and all of a sudden she is starting to growl at children (not ours) that she comes in contact with. Children that she has known for a long time! I cannot have this! She has even gotten nippy with them. I'm not sure how to handle this. I am looking for any information! I will be calling the vet this week as well, but I stumbled upon this site and hoped that someone might have some insight. She is our baby and we love her dearly. Help!!!!
 

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Hello and welcome.

I'm sorry to hear that you are having these worries and also I'm really glad that you are going to consult the vet. Always a good idea to rule out any physical problem first.

If the growling is occuring in the house when you have visiting children I would immediately create a safe child free space for your dog - perhaps introduce a crate if you do not already have one - or use a baby gate across the door of a room and explain to all children that when the dog is behind the gate they must totally ignore her.

Growling is usually a warning and if a dog is finding a situation threatening it is their way of communicating their fear - and also the fact that if pushed they are ready to defend themselves.

With children you know well and with their parents happy consent, perhaps you could let the children just drop a few tasty treats on the floor around their feet and then just look out the window, ignoring the dog completely while your dog hoovers the treats up. Hopefully pretty soon she'll remember that these kids are ok - but as she is feeling fearful I would be consistent with the children that they should ignore her and must not approach her or grab at her - even if all they want to do is give her a pat or a hug.

It is always more worrying with rescue dogs just because you do not know what their past experiences have been. For your dogs sake - try to reduce the stress for her, don't shout at her, smack her or anything like that if she growls - you'll just make her more fearful and potentially more likely to show increasing aggression. Just move her away.

I would ask the vet to check her eyes (in case she is loosing her sight) and her ears (in case of mites, grass seed or other infection - all painful) particularly.

Good luck - I hope things get better for you are your girl.
 
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