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I wanted advice on this. I want my in-laws to be more careful when their dog is around my kids, but they deny there is any risk. My kids are 5 and 9 years old. They are good with pets, especially the 9 year old. Do you think I'm over-reacting? Do you think I need to insist that they be more careful and ever leave the dog alone with the children? The dog is four years old and I've never noticed her growling or snarling before. They will be angry if I insist on more care as I've already asked them to be more careful and been rebuffed.

Yesterday we went to my MIL's to celebrate Mother's Day. I have 2 MIL's, one is my Dh's stepmother. My FIL and step-MIL were already in the back yard at MIL when we arrived. My 9 year-old went up to gate and reached for the handle when stepmom's 4 year old dog, Maggie unexpectedly growled(quick snarling biting behavior) and lunged at my daughter. My daughter hurt her hand, but I don't think she was bitten. I think she banged it on the fence trying to get it away from Maggie. The dog was right next to the fence. The handle is on the inside of the fence. The growling wasn't low warning growl. It was the loud snarling fast type growling you hear when two dogs get in an argument. There may be some other word (other than growl) that I should be using. My MIL pulled her back, and the dog seemed fine later. MIL thinks it happened because we drive my husband's car instead of mine. She says Maggie knows my car sound. Maggie was'nt at her own home. We were all visiting my other MIL's home. The dog-owning MIL also thinks Maggie was being more territorial because it wasn't her house. She also blames the small percentage of Chow Maggie may have.

Although they pulled Maggie back, they (especially my FIL) totally downplayed the situation. He refused to admit Maggie was any risk at all to my children, and that's what I'm uncomfortable with. I don't think Maggie is a bad dog, but she's not around kids that much. I asked my in-laws to be careful especially since in the summer they like to have my kids visit them without me or my husband. My other MIL says that's just totally normal dog behavior (she thinks she's a dog whisperer). I don't agree. Maggie probably didn't recognize my daughter, and may have been fearful. But I think her bad manners are more a lack of socialization/training than anything. I was around plenty of dogs growing up as a child and most don't act like that. Some dogs bite children, but I think at least half of those the child instigates the aggression.

I would feel better if they had instead said...Maggie shouldn't act like that. Maybe she was afraid because she didn't recognize your car. We'll be extra careful and watch that she doesn't become aggressive with your kids. That's not the attitude they had.

As far as I know, Maggie has never acted like that, but she has hurt my kids before because she is so excitable. Maggie is 75 pounds and jumps on people, but usually doesn't seem aggressive. My MIL insists that everyone pet Maggie immediately, so she'll calm down even though this probably reinforces the behavior.
 

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Well lets blame it on the car or maybe the dog doesn't like birds and a bird flew over when child reached for gate and the dog got confused. I think that if it were my kids I would be careful. You are caught between a rock and a hard place(family affairs are hard to deal with)what does your other half say as I'm assuming these are his kids also.(assuming your a mom) It's kinda funny a man or woman picks up a shotgun and shoots somebody and all his/her neighbors say how nice a person they were and don't understand how such a thing could happen. 2 times a week on the evening news some child is being bit somewhere in the states. This dog may never bite anybody but is it a possibility, you betcha.
Good luck, I surely don't envy your in-law problems.
 

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If they were my children they would not ever be unsupervised around that dog AT ALL....I know family situations can be sticky but when it comes to your children YOU make the rules.....is this the only incident?...sounds like she was "guarding".....not to make excuses but its not totally our of the ordinary for a dog to be protective of someone coming onto the property....but it would make me very hyper aware of what is going on between the dog and the kids.
 

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Well put it this way, What if the dog DOES bite? Any dog can bite, I wouldn't allow my kids around any dog unattended much less one that has already growled at them. Keep teaching your kids how to behave around dogs and tell them (when MIL is NOT around) to stay away from that dog. In my opinion, I would rather my MIL was mad at me then have my child be bit in the face by their dog. That said, I didn't care for my would have been mother in law. :) Good luck, I feel for you.
 

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You're not overreacting; your inlaws are minimizing a real and potential danger to your children. This 75-lb. dog's obnoxious behavior (jumping on people) speaks voluume's about the owner's consideration of others in general. MIL or not, I wouldn't be sending my children to their house w/out me.

Sooooooo glad I no longer have to deal with inlaws! LOL
 
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