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  December 6, 2012

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Q&A with Michael Ellis

Q&A with Michael Ellis

At the end of every one of Michael Ellis’ classes, he opens the floor to unrelated questions. This one happens to be during the E-collar course that was hosted here at Leerburg. The question comes from a police K9 handler and pertains to how, as a police K9 handler without access to well trained decoys, he could fix some problems with a "chewy" bite. Michael discusses a few fundamental training methods to help with this as well as a brief discussion on genetics and how they can play into this.

December 6, 2012   |   9 Minutes, 26 Seconds

Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question

Question: Our 9 month old baby has started crawling and our 8 year old dog snapped at him. I want to find the dog a new home but my husband wants to train the dog. Is it possible to train her?


My dog is about 8 years old. She is a lab beagle mix. We have a 9 month old baby, who loves the dog. We take them on walks together, but the dog pulls and almost knocks the stroller over sometimes. We have taken her to an obedience class once, but we did not keep the training up enough. We were trying to let them be together, but when the baby started crawling, she got a warning bark from the dog twice. Then another time he was crawling towards the dog and the dog snapped at the baby. She did not get the baby's face, but was very close. My husband loves the dog and thinks we should try to train her, but I think we should not risk it with the dog and try to find a new home for her. Do you have any advice on whether or not a dog like this is a problem and if she can change her ways? Also, if it is possible to train her, how do we do this?


Cindy's Response:

When it comes to dogs and kids, I don’t leave any room for error even with a dog that hasn’t snapped at a child.

Since your dog HAS snapped, you have a couple of options.

One would be to rehome the dog into a new family that has NO kids.

The other would be to directly supervise the dog and baby at all times. I realize that for many families this is difficult and there is always the chance for a mistake.

I would set up a safe place for the dog to be in the home. I would use baby gates or an exercise pen.

Here is a section on preventing dog bites in kids. Even with training, I don’t trust dogs and babies (or kids) together without supervision. It’s not worth an accident.

I’ve also included a link to our eBook section. This will give you plenty to read and hopefully will help out.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Kids & Dog Aggression.

We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this weeks's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Q&A Search. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!

Customer Comments

On Leerburg's Monday Newsletter Video

RE the Chica video:    5 1/2 years ago I took a retired mini poodle breeder -- a wild animal -- into my home. I took it on as a training exercise for myself. She feared everyone and everything. Couldn't get near her. Within a few months she was diagnosed with bi-lateral glaucoma and together, the vet and I decided to simply remove her eyes as she was almost blind anyway. It took her less than a month to gather control of the house, yard and every other dog living here. Her fight or flight was disappearing at a fast rate and she became very eager to learn all of the obedience competition games. If she heard another dog working she wanted to be included. She worked hard all on her own to say that she wanted to be loved and a part of things. She was never leash trained but now heels about 6 inches behind my left leg. She sits, downs, fronts (almost straight), finds her stool and jumps right up on it with front paws to play 'get it in', never misses the approved potty spot, chases a tennis ball and brings it back, finds her dinner hidden in the yard etc. Everything the trained competition dogs practice, she trys to horn in on. She might just do it a little different, that's all. She jumps into my chair and dares me to tell her 'off'. I move things around all the time - doesn't seem to slow her down. She is a dog and I expect her to work at being that. She is happy to do the job of being a dog. Dogs don't use their eyes as much as we might think they do. They use their nose and other senses, right. If Lizzy bumps into something she just keeps waggin that poodle tale and going for greatness. She came to me at 5 and she will be 11 this spring. It took loss of her sight to give her strength to go on and be a domestic dog. She raised a GSD puppy from 7 weeks. He will be 5 next year. Giving her a puppy is how I found a road into her mind all of those years ago. This BC in your email is remarkable but so is any dog given the chance to excel at being a dog. Kudos to the BC's owner for playing and training and keeping her in the hear and now.

You all take good care,
Just another dog trainer.

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