Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was hoping it wouldn't come to this but I'm at the point where I think I need to find a home for one of my dogs. He bit my toddler twice today. He's never been the least bit aggressive, and he's been around her since she was a newborn and was always very tolerant, but lately this has cropped up. What happens is that she'll be running around, and she'll step near him and he'll snap. I don't think he's being aggressive, I think she's either stepping on him, or just startling him. But I have pretty much a zero tolerance policy on biting kids.

He's never drawn blood, but this is like the 6th time this has happened over the past few months. At first I thought she was just stepping on him but tonight I witnessed one where she just got near him, I think she just brushed him. I should add that he is never aggressive towards her, he will tolerate her leading him around, even grabbing his tail (yes, we've taught her this is a no no). But, when he's curled up sleeping and she walks near him he's done this several times.

Is there anything I can do or is this kind of a no go? I mean, I don't want my toddler to be subjected to more bites in the name of 'training'. I have kind of a bad experience with this as we had a havanese years ago who bit several children, ours and their friends. His behavior was completely irrational, he'd trot up wagging his tale, be petted for a minute and then bite (requiring stitches on one occasion). We had to have him euthanized after a rescue operation took him to try and find him a child free home and he bit several adults in a foster home.

I've read the advice of teaching your kids not to mess with the dog, but that seems like a dangerous route to take. Toddler's aren't exactly that full of self control and rational thinking. It's a small house and unless I keep him crated all the time I can't really keep them separate.

At this point all I can think is to try and see if I can find him a home with no small children, which is probably a losing proposition...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,773 Posts
IMO ..it seems like because this has happened quite a few times that he is anticipation that the child is going to harm him...maybe she stepped on him the 1st and 2nd time...now he just associated the child w/pain..so he snaps to say "hey back off"........sad situation..you need to do what you feel comfortable w/and what is going to keep the child and dog safe......If it were me I would see about re homing the dog in a household w/adults or older children (teenage) whom he might be a better fit.......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,713 Posts
The dog sounds fed up. I would be, too, if someone I could not communicate with clearly kept stomping on me or close to it as they blundered past me while I was trying to relax. Being pulled around and having my parts pulled on, as well as people getting upset when I try to defend myself would only make me want to increase the distance between myself and that someone more. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that you can find a rescue to take this dog in hopes that they can find him a home without children, if that's what you want to do. On the other hand, we also have a small house and seven dogs, and I have no problem closing doors, baby gating openings between rooms with no doors and using crates to keep our seven dogs content and safe by keeping some of them separated from eachother when they can't be supervised.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,968 Posts
I'd recommend this blog/podcast, and video: Dogs & Storks.

Many times, a dog is uncomfortable with a child, but tolerates their behavior for a very long time before they 'snap'. The problem lies in that many people do not recognize the warning signs a dog gives that they are uncomfortable or stressed by the child until the dog reacts physically.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Yes, I'd say he's definitely become sensitive to it. And please understand, I do understand his behavior. It makes sense, it's a rational response for a dog. And I don't let my kids pull his hair or jerk him around, however I think anyone who has kids will know that your kids will try it at least once (and you quickly make it clear to the kids that is not acceptible). I wasn't pointing that out as an example of how abused he is, rather that when she tried that he did not react aggresively. Looking at the links above, we probably are somewhat guilty of not noticing the dog was tolerating. We've always taught the kids how to respectfully treat dogs, but I can see where we might have missed the dogs not wanting even appropriate attention from them.

If my only options are to keep him locked away from everyone, or try to find him a more suitible home, then I think rehoming him would be a better move. He's always by my side, he does not like to be more than a few feet from me and I don't think it'd be any kind of life for him to be shut up in a bedroom all the time. I think that's the big problem, he always wants to be by my side and so does my toddler, and they run into each other.

I suppose I should add, when we adopted him 3 years ago, the shelter had him listed as a wallflower and said he wasn't suitable for a home with kids. However when we played with him he seemed very happy and fine with our kids and the shelter agreed that he looked like a good fit. I'm starting to wonder if someone at the shelter knew more than we were told...

I guess at this point, I'm trying to see if I have any options. I can't have him biting her, and I can't see locking him up in another room as a good quality of life for him (he's very energetic and social and likes to stay near me).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,713 Posts
A dog doesn't have to be abused for a bad experience to leave a lasting impression on them. Even the most kid friendly dog has a breaking point, and sometimes it only takes one incident.

Crates, baby gates and closed doors only have to be as unfun and restrictive as you make them. I also have a few "velcro dogs" and several high energy dogs who are involved in dog sports, but I couldn't see them being happier if I rehomed them versus keeping them safely contained when I cannot supervise them together. It would be no different if I had a kid.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
335 Posts
It's my experience that dogs tend to escalate behavior rather than scale it back. Now that he's tested biting your child, it might be hard to get him to stop. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but I have to wonder if it's worth taking the risk of harm to your child. I've read a lot of posts on various forums lately that make excuses for dogs who bite children and I wonder how much sense it makes to want to preserve their relationship with their dogs while putting their children at risk. Admittedly, I don't have children so I've never had to train dogs with the adult-dog-child dynamic in action, but I'm rarely willing to tolerate a bite with just me around, either.

It would be my advice that if there is any question of the dog biting the child, then he has to go to another home before he hurts her seriously. He's warning her and if she continues to mess up, then he'll escalate the warnings into "punishment" (for lack of a better word). Odds are, since she's a toddler, she'll continue to mess up simply because she can't really reason at this point--and accidents can happen in a split second. That's not an indictment of the parents, of the child, or of the dog; all it does is acknowledge that sometimes a dog's temperament does not mesh with children. However, if it seems that the dog is becoming aggressive toward everyone (and it doesn't seem so, but I don't have enough information) I'd be hesitant to rehome the dog simply due to liability issues. I would not, however, keep the dog either.

Sorry to be so blunt, but with all of the good dogs out there looking for homes and with so many of them being a good potential fit for your home, I can't see putting a child at risk.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,713 Posts
"I'd be hesitant to rehome the dog simply due to liability issues. I would not, however, keep the dog either.

Sorry to be so blunt, but with all of the good dogs out there looking for homes and with so many of them being a good potential fit for your home, I can't see putting a child at risk." LoupGarouTFTs

How sad. If we put down all of the dogs who have ever had good reason to give a warning snap (normal dog communication, distance increasing behavior) and did so, I believe the world would be sadly short quite a number of good dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,968 Posts
I've read a lot of posts on various forums lately that make excuses for dogs who bite children and I wonder how much sense it makes to want to preserve their relationship with their dogs while putting their children at risk.
See, but I don't believe it's always an 'either or' situation like that. Through education and supervision, dogs and children CAN co-exist peacefully. Most bad experiences of dogs biting children is not because the dog is dangerous, it's most often a combination of misunderstanding dog body language, lack of proper supervision, and not knowing how to create positive interactions between the dog and child.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
335 Posts
Sad or not, we live in a litigious world and it's bad advice to suggest rehoming a dog that bites. That's a good way to get sued by the owner who was sued for placing a "dangerous" dog. I never said that it was an ideal means of dealing with the situation and if you noticed I did say that they should try to find a home for the dog if, and only if, it seemed the biting was situational.

However, a dog that turns into a habitual biter is no longer a "good" dog. It can possibly be trained out of biting, but in a home with a toddler I tend to wonder if it's worth the risk. Sometimes you just have to take emotion out of the decision-making process and do what is right for the *people* involved, especially if they are small children. How many reports of small children being attacked, savaged, or killed before we learn by example? I'm not saying that *all* warning snaps will turn into bites or attacks, but clearly this dog has already bitten. He's not going to stop biting now just by wishing it away and keeping him around long enough to do significant retraining might be too much of a risk. If the child were even as old as five or six, my advice would be quite different, but asking a toddler to control her behavior to any great extent around the dog, outside of the simplest of tasks, is simply unreasonable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,713 Posts
Lou, I don't believe anyone said anything about wishing away undesirable behavior, or expecting a toddler to control their behavior. I also don't see where anyone said a habitual biter is a "good" dog.


"He bit my toddler twice today." "He's never drawn blood, but this is like the 6th time this has happened over the past few months." OP, care to elaborate?

Dr. Ian Dunbar's Bite Assessment Scale

Level 1- Dog growls, lunges, snarls-no teeth touch skin. Mostly intimidation behavior.

Level 2- Teeth touch skin but no puncture. May have red mark/minor bruise from dog’s head or snout, may have minor scratches from paws/nails. Minor surface abrasions acceptable.

Level 3- Punctures ½ the length of a canine tooth, one to four holes, single bite. No tearing or slashes. Victim not shaken side to side. Bruising.

Level 4- One to four holes from a single bite, one hole deeper than ½ the length of a canine tooth, typically contact/punctures from more than canines only. Black bruising, tears and/or slashing wounds. Dog clamped down and shook or slashed victim.

Level 5- Multiple bites at Level 4 or above. A concerted, repeated attack.

Level 6- Any bite resulting in death of a human.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
It's my experience that dogs tend to escalate behavior rather than scale it back. Now that he's tested biting your child, it might be hard to get him to stop. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but I have to wonder if it's worth taking the risk of harm to your child. I've read a lot of posts on various forums lately that make excuses for dogs who bite children and I wonder how much sense it makes to want to preserve their relationship with their dogs while putting their children at risk.
That is my thought too. Looking at that blog mentioned above, it does seem like he's never been that fond of her. I don't see it magically going away. And, my kids come first. If that makes me a bad dog owner, so be it.

It would be my advice that if there is any question of the dog biting the child, then he has to go to another home before he hurts her seriously. He's warning her and if she continues to mess up, then he'll escalate the warnings into "punishment" (for lack of a better word). Odds are, since she's a toddler, she'll continue to mess up simply because she can't really reason at this point--and accidents can happen in a split second.
Well yes, that's kind of my thinking. A 2 year old can't realistically be expected to understand and avoid situations that may provoke a bite. A dog also can't realistically be expected to understand that it shouldn't defend itself from a toddler it perceives as a threat. Hence it seems the options are, find a more suitable home or always keep them separated.

That's not an indictment of the parents, of the child, or of the dog; all it does is acknowledge that sometimes a dog's temperament does not mesh with children. However, if it seems that the dog is becoming aggressive toward everyone (and it doesn't seem so, but I don't have enough information) I'd be hesitant to rehome the dog simply due to liability issues. I would not, however, keep the dog either.
He's never shown any signs of aggression otherwise. We've been through a biter before and had to have him euthanized since it was completely irrational (one minute, sitting wagging his tail being petted, then with no warning, no growls, no change in body language, he would bite). We had him examined by a behaviorist who determined that nothing could be done as he showed no real signs of fear or aggression and would just randomly bite without provocation.

This guy is definitely much more logical, and reading that article mentioned above it does seem pretty obvious now (too late) that he's never been that fond of the little one even though he tolerated her.

The odd thing is, we've had him since just before she was born and never had a problem. But I've also noticed a change in his behavior as some major changes have happened. I got divorced and moved across the country to a much smaller house without much of a yard. Previously, he had a play buddy, a big siberian husky, and a large yard. Most of his time was spent romping with his buddy outside. Here, he's indoors most of the time and his only companion is my 9 year old beagle who doesn't have much tolerance for his antics. He's very high energy and I walk him 3 times a day to keep him calmish. Before the move he wasn't especially clingy, he'd either hang out outside or sleep in another room or maybe under the coffee table. Since moving he is almost always by my side, usually curled up at my feet or within a few feet. I'm not sure why this started, other than perhaps viewing me as a comfortable constant after a big change, but it seems to be the crux of the problem. He's always near me, and so is my toddler, whereas before they usually kept out of each others way.

"He bit my toddler twice today." "He's never drawn blood, but this is like the 6th time this has happened over the past few months." OP, care to elaborate?

Dr. Ian Dunbar's Bite Assessment Scale

Level 1- Dog growls, lunges, snarls-no teeth touch skin. Mostly intimidation behavior.

Level 2- Teeth touch skin but no puncture. May have red mark/minor bruise from dog’s head or snout, may have minor scratches from paws/nails. Minor surface abrasions acceptable.

Level 3- Punctures ½ the length of a canine tooth, one to four holes, single bite. No tearing or slashes. Victim not shaken side to side. Bruising.

Level 4- One to four holes from a single bite, one hole deeper than ½ the length of a canine tooth, typically contact/punctures from more than canines only. Black bruising, tears and/or slashing wounds. Dog clamped down and shook or slashed victim.

Level 5- Multiple bites at Level 4 or above. A concerted, repeated attack.

Level 6- Any bite resulting in death of a human.
It's all been level 1 or 2. Today's were both 2.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
335 Posts
Level 2 bites

He's never drawn blood, but this is like the 6th time this has happened over the past few months. At first I thought she was just stepping on him but tonight I witnessed one where she just got near him, I think she just brushed him. I should add that he is never aggressive towards her, he will tolerate her leading him around, even grabbing his tail (yes, we've taught her this is a no no). But, when he's curled up sleeping and she walks near him he's done this several times.
Lou, I don't believe anyone said anything about wishing away undesirable behavior, or expecting a toddler to control their behavior. I also don't see where I said a habitual biter is a "good" dog.

"He bit my toddler twice today." OP, care to elaborate?

Dr. Ian Dunbar's Bite Assessment Scale

Level 1- Dog growls, lunges, snarls-no teeth touch skin. Mostly intimidation behavior.

Level 2- Teeth touch skin but no puncture. May have red mark/minor bruise from dog’s head or snout, may have minor scratches from paws/nails. Minor surface abrasions acceptable.

Level 3- Punctures ½ the length of a canine tooth, one to four holes, single bite. No tearing or slashes. Victim not shaken side to side. Bruising.

Level 4- One to four holes from a single bite, one hole deeper than ½ the length of a canine tooth, typically contact/punctures from more than canines only. Black bruising, tears and/or slashing wounds. Dog clamped down and shook or slashed victim.

Level 5- Multiple bites at Level 4 or above. A concerted, repeated attack.

Level 6- Any bite resulting in death of a human.
You made a general statement that the world would be short a number of "good dogs" if my suggested policy was followed. In my opinion, a dog that has bitten six times in several months, blood drawn or not, is not a "good" dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,713 Posts
"A 2 year old can't realistically be expected to understand and avoid situations that may provoke a bite. A dog also can't realistically be expected to understand that it shouldn't defend itself from a toddler it perceives as a threat. Hence it seems the options are, find a more suitable home or always keep them separated."

Yep, that's where being the responsible parent and dog owner comes in. It's not easy, but it works. I'll add to your last sentence to "always keep them separated, unless supervised, even if the dog is thought to be bomb proof and kid friendly."


I still think that's sad, Lou. In my opinion the dog being "good" or not would have more to do with the circumstances surrounding the bites, than the bites themselves.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
335 Posts
Here, he's indoors most of the time and his only companion is my 9 year old beagle who doesn't have much tolerance for his antics. He's very high energy and I walk him 3 times a day to keep him calmish. Before the move he wasn't especially clingy, he'd either hang out outside or sleep in another room or maybe under the coffee table. Since moving he is almost always by my side, usually curled up at my feet or within a few feet. I'm not sure why this started, other than perhaps viewing me as a comfortable constant after a big change, but it seems to be the crux of the problem. He's always near me, and so is my toddler, whereas before they usually kept out of each others way.
It sounds to me as if he's resource guarding, with you (or your attention) being the "resource"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
It sounds to me as if he's resource guarding, with you (or your attention) being the "resource"
I considered that. But one of the bites today was with him sleeping under the coffee table on the other side of a couch from me. I guess he's not always right by me, but usually in the same room. I guess I let my attention slip catching up on some work, since the previous incidents I have been careful to watch her, and remind her when she gets near him to give him space and not get too close. But the last incident was nearly a month ago and I got complacent.

Another thing I just considered, I now have split custody and have the kids every other week, so the home life isn't exactly constant now (much quieter and low key when the kids aren't here). Before the kids were always around him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Ok, so from a training perspective, is there anything that could be done to help him with this if I want to keep him? When i watch his body language, he does seem scared of my daughter. In the same situations if I were to brush him while sleeping, he doesn't react this way with me. It seems the big problem is that he's afraid of my toddler. Can anything be done about this that would realiably make the situation safer, beyond keeping them separated all the time? He does have a crate but he does not voluntarily go in there. My daughter really doesn't play with him, she doesn't chase him around and rarely tries to pet him, most of the time she leaves him alone.

After thinking about it, it just seems like this is occuring because he's afraid of her. Is there a way to work through that? Or am I still stuck with seperate or rehome?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,997 Posts
I'm no dog "expert" by any stretch of the imagination. I will say that one of the most important things I looked at before getting my dog was whether he was good with kids or not. I have two nieces who are 3 and 2 and I would not tolerate for a second a dog biting either one of them without sufficient provocation. It's one thing if the kid is pulling on the tail, sitting on the dog, yanking the ears, etc.... It's another thing if the kid is just walking by when the dog is sleeping.

I think you should contact a rescue organization or a no-kill shelter to re-home this dog immediately for a couple of reasons. First of all, you mentioned you're recently divorced and having a dog in your house that is known to bite kids (regardless of the severity of the bite and the reasons behind it) could jeapardize any custody agreement you have wiht your ex. Second of all, you expose yourself to a lot of liability if this dog bites someone other than your kid. Third of all, it's not healthy for the dog to be in an environment wher eit's constantly under stress. Fourth of all, your kid will learn during her impressionable years that dogs are to be feared. Do you really want to teach your toddler to be afraid of dogs?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I'm no dog "expert" by any stretch of the imagination. I will say that one of the most important things I looked at before getting my dog was whether he was good with kids or not. I have two nieces who are 3 and 2 and I would not tolerate for a second a dog biting either one of them without sufficient provocation. It's one thing if the kid is pulling on the tail, sitting on the dog, yanking the ears, etc.... It's another thing if the kid is just walking by when the dog is sleeping.

I think you should contact a rescue organization or a no-kill shelter to re-home this dog immediately for a couple of reasons. First of all, you mentioned you're recently divorced and having a dog in your house that is known to bite kids (regardless of the severity of the bite and the reasons behind it) could jeapardize any custody agreement you have wiht your ex. Second of all, you expose yourself to a lot of liability if this dog bites someone other than your kid. Third of all, it's not healthy for the dog to be in an environment wher eit's constantly under stress. Fourth of all, your kid will learn during her impressionable years that dogs are to be feared. Do you really want to teach your toddler to be afraid of dogs?
Well, that's where I'm torn. It's not entirely without provocation, it's not like he'll lunge at her when she just walks by. I think really he's been sensitized to being stepped on, so if she brushes him he'll react. She can be right next to him while he's sleeping and he won't do it, it's only if she either steps on him or brushes his leg.

As for custody, I'm not terribly worried about that, my ex wife thinks I should keep him and work on training him. Liability, that is a concern, I could see it happening if my son had a friend over who then stepped on him. Like I said though, he's never been agressive and this seems more of a fear reaction than real aggression. However I learned with biters before, no matter how small the bite is you can't just brush it off.

I'm not sure he's constantly under stress, but I do think he'd be happier in a place without kids and with another playful dog and room to run. That's a big factor into my decision. On the flip side, my nine year old considers this to be his dog and he would not react well to getting rid of him. I'm going to hold a family meeting tonight and explain it to the kids and see what they think, I know ultimately it's my decision but they should be involved.

If I have to manage it, well, it wouldn't be horrible. Since I only have the kids every other week, and my toddler is in afternoon daycare, it's only 8-12 and 6-9 that they're interacting. I can just keep him crated or in the bedroom during those times. I do think, however, that he'd be happier in a child free home with a nice yard than he would be crated half the day...
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top