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Hi everyone! New member here & also new to Poodles!

I have an 8-9 month old Female Standard Poodle. We got her at 4 months :)

Scarlett has been absolutely wonderful and my entire family has fallen in love with the breed and her. She's everything we could have wanted in a dog, but I do have a few minor concerns/questions.

My 4 year old and Scarlett play rough together all the time. They jump on each other, play tug of war, run around making tons of noise (barking and screaming) and have a general blast. Scarlett mouths my son's arm, but never bites. She will also grab his shirt and pull (like tug of war) often. This is something we're working on and stop, but it still does happen.

So, due to Covid, we haven't been able to socialize like we normally would have. We have opened up our circle a bit, and the other day we had my niece and nephew over. All the kids and the dog were playing and wrestling for quite a while (hours). Scarlett was right in the mele when she nipped/bit my nephew on the rear and broke the skin. My nephew just happened to be on the top of the pile of wrestling kids, and I'm sure Scarlett was just playing or protecting her kids (who were under him). That said, my new plan is just to remove her from the kids if they're rough housing too much to prevent anymore issues. I'm curious what your thoughts are on this behavior, though. She's still young, so I'm hoping it was just a puppy not knowing it's own strength nip type thing, but I'm not sure and am worried it will escalate to aggression, though, she does not ever seem aggressive in nature.

Sorry this is so wordy and thank you in advance :)
 

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To me it sounds like over excitement - something you will be very familiar with if you have had a houseful of small children playing together for the first time in months. I would certainly supervise play, and calm things down before she gets too excited. Rough housing can be dangerous for just the reasons you have discovered, and it may be better to teach the children other ways to play with her - to her they are fellow puppies when they play together like this, and fellow puppies frequently get nipped. She will have limited self control, and is also heading into the crazy teenage times - games that reward calm behaviour and stopping to think may be more appropriate. Statues, when everyone freezes and the puppy sits, can be a good one - small prizes all round, of course. Trick training, follow the leader, hide and seek - there are lots of possibilities that don't involve rolling on the floor and wrestling. I can quite see that rough and tumble must have been wonderful for them both when there were no other playmates, but it is probably time for your son to start showing her that he is a boy and not a puppy.
 

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I have a game I play with the neighbor kids. Each kid gets a handful of treats. Then they spread out and take turns calling the puppy. He only gets a treat if he runs to the correct kid. He gets no treat if he jumps up; the kid turns away. (I instructed the kids to tuck their arms against their chests to eliminate tempting targets for nipping.)
 

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When my almost six month old Spoo gets ‘nasty’ is when he gets over excited. They just don’t have the capacity to go from up to down to up. They r learning like babies and everyday hold something new. So it’s up to us to teach em...which is a tall order! I think it’s a good idea to remove when kids r in a WWE match. Dog play is so much more ‘ruff’ 🥴(couldn’t help it) than people play. I have a 9 year old and he knows in the evening he cannot get down in the floor and play with Teddy cause teddy can’t handle that during his evening time mind set. Like lastnight Teddy could not get settled to take a nap there’s 5 of us and that’s 10 legs moving about so I put him in crate and he fell right to sleep. It’s a puzzle/riddle sometimes ya got piece/figure out and every dog/person is different. Also if during rough house if one of the kids accidentally hurt the dog not on purpose and dog snap back the dog would b at fault which could have been avoided. U sounds like a parent who cares and a puppy owner who cares as well. U will get it! U already knew what to do. 👍🏻
 

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Thank you! I had an inkling it was just over excitement from her, but because she actually broke the skin I had that bit of doubt. I love the game ideas and the encouragement from all of you. Thank you so much :)
 

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Great advice here. Welcome to Poodle Forum! :)

We started doing weekly play dates with some dogs from class when Peggy was about 9 months old. Those play sessions were great for about 30 minutes and then each dog would slowly start losing their brain and getting too rough. Game over.

Eventually we worked up to 45 minutes.

Now each session is about 1 hour, but that's with lots of pauses for rest, which they're finally mature enough to implement themselves. Until very recently, we had to periodically break things up so one or all the dogs could regroup.

That's sort of how I see poodle play now: Foot on the gas, foot off the gas, foot on the gas, foot on the brakes! foot on the gas... And so on. For that, supervision is absolutely required.

I think it's Dr. Dunbar who says that roughhousing may only occur if the roughhouser can, at any time, easily put the dog through her paces. Sit. Lie down. Stay.

If the dog's playmate cannot do this, no roughhousing and there must be someone else supervising all play.

Scarlett is at a pivotal age. For the next year or so, she's going to be deep in adolescence. She's going to need your calm, confident, consistent energy more than ever.
 

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Great advice here. Welcome to Poodle Forum! :)

We started doing weekly play dates with some dogs from class when Peggy was about 9 months old. Those play sessions were great for about 30 minutes and then each dog would slowly start losing their brain and getting too rough. Game over.

Eventually we worked up to 45 minutes.

Now each session is about 1 hour, but that's with lots of pauses for rest, which they're finally mature enough to implement themselves. Until very recently, we had to periodically break things up so one or all the dogs could regroup.

That's sort of how I see poodle play now: Foot on the gas, foot off the gas, foot on the gas, foot on the brakes! foot on the gas... And so on. For that, supervision is absolutely required.

I think it's Dr. Dunbar who says that roughhousing may only occur if the roughhouser can, at any time, easily put the dog through her paces. Sit. Lie down. Stay.

If the dog's playmate cannot do this, no roughhousing and there must be someone else supervising all play.

Scarlett is at a pivotal age. For the next year or so, she's going to be deep in adolescence. She's going to need your calm, confident, consistent energy more than ever.

Thank you!! This is great advice too. Scarlett looks & even sometimes behaves more like a big girl so sometimes I think we forget for a bit she's still so young.
 

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Well, it sounds like your dog is doing better than mine! One of my 10-month-old spoos has always wanted to play bite the kids. My kids all know that if they run and scream, they're going to get nipped, and they're not to play like that around the dogs. But my 6-year-old son is a little troublemaker, and loves to get the dogs riled up. He used to actually stick his arm in the dog's mouth to encourage the biting. I would get so mad! Every once in a while he gets bitten harder than he bargained for and then he treats the dogs with more respect for a while. If I see the kids start to get worked up, I tell the dog "leave it." He's usually got his head in the air, already trotting over to see what's going on, but he'll stop now if I catch it before he gets over there. If he does mouth the kids at all, he goes strait to his crate. He's definitely getting better as he gets older, so there is hope. The 6-year-old though, heaven help us! It is a problem if I'm not close when things start to escalate because the dog will bite the running child, who will scream, which will make the dog bite more, so that's why I educate the kids. The bites never do more than scratch the skin, and I can tell the dog isn't being aggressive, it's more playful, or maybe prey drive, but I really don't want to have a dog who bites kids, so we're working hard on this.

My other spoo, who is usually gentle with kids, snapped at a 10-year-old boy's face the other day, but I consider it the kid's fault. The kid, who she'd never met, snuck up behind her then suddenly growled and grabbed her back end. The dog spun around in surprise and bit him in the face, then bolted out of there before I could even scold her. It didn't leave a mark. I was shocked, so I just said, "Dude, you can't do that to a dog you don't know." Maybe that's a game he plays with his dog. He ended up making friends with her the next day by feeding her lunch meat and giving her belly rubs. I was grateful for that, because I was afraid he'd turned my friendly dog into a dog that's wary of boys. But seriously, if kids are going to be dumb, they're going to get bitten, even by nice dogs, and it's not always the dog's fault. I don't know, maybe I'm making excuses for my dog, but I feel like I am doing everything in my power to teach these dogs to be gentle with kids, and my gut is that they're still just big puppies, and need to grow up a little more and develop some self control. We'll get there. I just hope we don't get sued in the mean time.
 

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I don't think it sounds like you're making excuses at all! That dog showed great restraint, not breaking the skin and getting the heck out of there.

Well done!

But also....eek!

That could've gone much much worse, and definitely don't assume it won't next time. Your poodle might be on heightened alert for a while.

If you haven't already, do some reading on "trigger stacking." I just don't want your poodles getting in a situation where something seemingly benign pushes them over the edge. Even the most tolerant of dogs has a breaking point.

It's good that you've got the crate there as as a quiet escape spot. Just make sure no little faces or fingers ever find their way in there. ;)
 
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