Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Delete if not allowed

This is not about my dog, but one that affects me directly. My dad had to put one of his favorite dogs to sleep last year who was a mastiff. Instead of moving on and enjoying the 5 other dogs he had, he decided to get a new mastiff, a one year old female who had been mistreated and not rehabbed one bit.

Right off the bat, she tried to attack my husband through a fence. I'm talking snarling, lunging, teeth bared, all 100+ pounds of her. His excuse was that my husband looks like the man who mistreated her. Fast forward a few weeks, I come over to my CHILDHOOD HOME unannounced (it was an emergency). I knocked but no one answered, so I come in. This dog, once again, goes into attack mode; snarling, barking, growling, teeth bared, lunging at my face. My dad blames me, saying I shouldn't have walked into her room unannounced, despite it being an emergency.

For the next few months she's been fine. I've tried, and tried, and tried to make her comfortable with me. I've been around a lot of rescue dogs and sympathize. It's gotten to the point where she'll grumble at me at first, then approach and sniff my hand. At that point I reach down and pet her, she realizes who I am and we're buddies. She's even started seeking me out for petting.

Today I'm at my dad's house and he has company. He's deeply engrossed in conversation and I don't want to bother him, so I decide to grab a soda from the other room. It's in the dog's room, but she and I have been friends for months so I think nothing of it. I walk in, she grumbles but doesn't bark. She walks over to sniff me, I reach down to pet her like always and she snaps repeatedly at me while snarling, missing my hand and my 1 year old son's foot (who I was carrying) by inches.

I'm terrified now, my son is screaming and terrified, and my dad rushes in. He instantly accuses me, tells me it's my fault because I shouldn't have gone into "her room". Every time it's my fault.

Also, this dog has killed two chickens and a duck. It's never her fault.

I'm now to the point where I am ready to let my dad go. I don't feel his house is safe, for me and especially not for my 5 year old and 1 year old. He doesn't seem to see an issue with her, has done zero training and blames any attack on me. He acts like it's totally normal to have a room in the house off limits because there's a vicious, killer 100+ pound dog in it. Is it??? Is this normal?? Am I overreacting? Because he and his wife seem to think I'm a horrible person for even suggesting she be put down or rehomed. At the end of the day, the home doesn't feel safe with her there. Am I the problem or is this really messed up?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
624 Posts
Honestly, since this isn't your dog your options are limited. Could (should?) your Dad be working with her to help her overcome some of her fears? Sure. But that's his decision as far as what, if anything, he chooses to do.

If I were you I'd STOP trying to befriend this dog. Obviously she's not that into you. Even if she sometimes seems to seek out your company & attention, I'd err on the side of caution and NEVER try to pet her. If you want to do anything, let her approach for a sniff & then toss a treat AWAY from yourself so she can increase distance from you while getting a treat (double reward for an anxious dog - food + more personal space)

When you go over there, request your Dad put the dog up in a secured room & stay out of there. If you need something from that room, ask your Dad to go get it. Keep your children completely away from her as well. You mentioned that he had company when this last incident occurred? She was probably already extra stressed because of that, then your walking in & trying to touch her pushed her over threshold & she snapped (literally) If she'd actually wanted to bite you, she would have.

Is any of this optimal? No, but sometimes you have to adjust & manage situations when it comes to family. Your & your children's safety comes first - so keep your distance & ask your Dad to make sure this can happen. If he won't secure the dog away from you, I'd not visit.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,506 Posts
Definitely not your fault. I'm a big believer in treating dogs like animals and not stuffed toys in the sense that we shouldn't expect them to tolerate harassment, rough handling, and excessively 'rude' human behavior without the potential of them defending themselves; that is NOT what's going on here. Something as benign as being in the same room as the dog should not be considered an 'acceptable' reason for the dog to get snappy - especially when small children are involved, good grief!

While it's good that she hasn't put teeth on you yet - that means she's practicing restraint - she sounds fearful and insecure. It's highly likely she also was never well socialized as a puppy, meaning she wasn't introduced to new people and situations while her brain was developing so that she'd learn new things aren't scary. Combined with the fact that she's a powerful 'guardian' breed, which often have a genetic tendency to be wary of strangers to begin with... this is a scary situation.

I completely support the advice to not visit unless the dog is confined behind a locked door (locked for that extra layer of protection with curious small children in the picture). Or not visit at all if your father refuses. He should be addressing this with a qualified dog behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist, not making excuses for her. Being fearful and stressed all the time is no life for her, either.

Killing small animals is typically not at all related to human aggression, since predatory behavior is a different process. Doesn't make this situation any less worrying, but it also doesn't make it more concerning either, if that makes sense. Does say something about how far your father's head is in the sand about this though, especially if the livestock isn't his. That'll get them both in hot water.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,959 Posts
The dog is not yours, and the house is not yours, so, as others have said, your options are limited.

Your dad seems to keep the dog in "her room." Is this room closed off and secure? If it is, it sounds like your dad is managing her when company is over. Is that normal? Yes. Plenty of people who have fearful or anxious dogs will close a door and keep the dog secure in that room when non-household members visit. My dog can be anxious around strangers, so I crate him and close the door to that room and ask guests not to enter. If they go in and get a scare, that's their fault.

If the dog is not secure (the door is not closed, nothing is physically keeping her in the room) then I would be concerned, however. A fearful dog should not be allowed to wander the house when strangers are about. It is reasonable of you to ask your father to secure the dog and lock the room so children can't accidentally get in when you are visiting him. Personally, a dog that large would also be crated as an extra level of security!

If the dog is not secure and your father refuses to remedy the situation, you can choose to not visit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,794 Posts
Dog should be put up when you visit, especially with a child. I have dogs that are good. I put them both up when I have company and I do it because my company will never do as I ask which is IGNORE the dogs!!!

If you go there again how you approach the dog might help a bit. As we say in our training group, 'Don't act creepy!"

Don't look at the dog. Don't walk with hesitation or slowly. Act confident. Don't talk to the dog. Don't offer your hand to sniff. Don't approach the dog. Act like the dog does not exist. I would try that without the 1 year old with you.

A dog that kills animals is doing so in prey drive. It is a whole different thing. Has NOTHING to do with the concerns you have insofar as getting bitten. The stuff this dog is doing with you sounds like defense drive out of fear. If you act confident, do not interact with the dog at all (even if he seeks petting) you might find things ease a bit.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top