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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

So I'm getting ready to get a place with my boyfriend. It's a big step in our relationship and for my 6 year old son. Well, he'll be bringing his 1 1/2 year old spayed female pit bull mix into the picture. I say she's a "mix" because she definitely doesn't look like other pit bulls I've seen. She looks smaller and less muscular, but she's still a bit of a block head. Anyways, whenever I try researching the pit bull breed I can't help but come across those terrible and horrific tragic stories of pit bulls attacking children. I want to overlook those stories because I know Delilah (his dog) is a complete sweetheart and she's super playful. But what's keeping her from flipping one day and deciding to dominate my child? My son's safety is my top priority and I can't help but feel concerned when I think about bringing Delilah into the family.

This is a stupid question, but what should I do? I might be over-thinking this but I'd rather be safe than join that 0.001% group of horrible attack stories. Is there something I can do to assure our safety when introducing her to the new family setup? Am I overdoing it if I ask my boyfriend to find her a new home over this?

Please try to give me rational/logical answers. I understand there are countless numbers of pits out there that wouldn't hurt a fly. Keep in mind, Delilah hasn't been around small children and we're not entirely sure how she'd like living with one.


Much appreciated,
Laynie
 

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In short I don't know how to help with a dog suddenly snapping and going crazy (which is not exclusively a Pitt problem)

Does your son have experience with dogs? It's very important with any dog that your son know how to interact properly with a dog.
I noticed a child training class at my local petco last week designed to teach children how to behave around and treat dogs. Also I highly recommend finding a good dog training class and have your son take the lead in training. (Also good for teaching your son responsibility)
 

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I second Hankscorpio. I think a lot of dog bites involve people who do not know how to properly interact with a dog, or when to leave a dog alone (for example, when he's eating, or has a favorite toy). Make sure your son knows not to pester the dog. Taking both the dog and your son to a training class is an excellent idea. Pits are not the only dogs that bite humans. However, they are the ones that get skewered in the press.

You also need to be prepared for the reaction you get from others about having a pit in your household, even if it is a mix. Some people are very biased and apt to make snarky comments about having such a "dangerous" dog in your home even if they've never interacted with a pit bull & wouldn't know one from a golden retriever unless somebody pointed it out.
 

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The best thing you can do is to never leave your son and the dog alone, which is what you should do no matter what breed or mix the dog is.

There's no reason to think the dog will 'just snap' one day and go on a killing spree, that just doesn't happen without provocation unless there is something wrong with the brain chemistry of the dog (again, could be said of any breed).

I also agree that it's important to teach your son how to properly interact with the dog. No pulling or prodding, don't try to take treats from her, don't bother her when she's eating or sleeping, etc. Again though, this is advice I'd give regardless of the breed.
 

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Is it just me or does it sound odd to anyone else that she is ready to move in with her boyfriend and yet it sounds like her son hasn't even met the boyfriends dog yet? At least that's what I take away from her saying the dog hasn't been around small children before. I'd think that would have been an important step in the relationship before reaching the idea of moving in together.

Personally I'd say no to expecting him to rehome his dog because of your bias against pits. I certainly wouldn't give up my dog for a relationship, even more so if the dog hasn't actually DONE anything to give cause.

Unless there is something chemically wrong in the dogs brain dogs don't just snap and become aggressive. The vast majority of time the signs are all there but people just ignore them or don't know what to look for.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
In short I don't know how to help with a dog suddenly snapping and going crazy (which is not exclusively a Pitt problem)

Does your son have experience with dogs? It's very important with any dog that your son know how to interact properly with a dog.
I noticed a child training class at my local petco last week designed to teach children how to behave around and treat dogs. Also I highly recommend finding a good dog training class and have your son take the lead in training. (Also good for teaching your son responsibility)
So first of all, thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. I don't believe my son has a sufficient amount of experience with dogs. He comes with us to the dog park when we take Delilah every now and then and, in general, he seems afraid of dogs that go above his knee and no matter how many times I tell him not to run because they'll chase, he always ends up running. I didn't even think about a dog training class. This sounds like a great idea for all of us to do as a family. It would definitely help boost my confidence in my son's ability to correctly and safely behave around a dog. So when you say "good" training class, do you mean not the Petco or Petsmart training classes? I've obviously never done this before.
 

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I second Hankscorpio. I think a lot of dog bites involve people who do not know how to properly interact with a dog, or when to leave a dog alone (for example, when he's eating, or has a favorite toy). Make sure your son knows not to pester the dog. Taking both the dog and your son to a training class is an excellent idea. Pits are not the only dogs that bite humans. However, they are the ones that get skewered in the press.

You also need to be prepared for the reaction you get from others about having a pit in your household, even if it is a mix. Some people are very biased and apt to make snarky comments about having such a "dangerous" dog in your home even if they've never interacted with a pit bull & wouldn't know one from a golden retriever unless somebody pointed it out.
All very good things you pointed out here. Instead of trying to avoid the problem altogether, I'm going to take this as a learning opportunity for both me and my son. Who knows, even if Delilah wasn't entering the picture, what if my son inevitably encountered another dog while visiting a friend's house? Knowing how to properly behave around dogs is something he should know anyways.

Thanks for the reply. I needed the clarity on a subject I'm not too familiar with.
 

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The best thing you can do is to never leave your son and the dog alone, which is what you should do no matter what breed or mix the dog is.

There's no reason to think the dog will 'just snap' one day and go on a killing spree, that just doesn't happen without provocation unless there is something wrong with the brain chemistry of the dog (again, could be said of any breed).

I also agree that it's important to teach your son how to properly interact with the dog. No pulling or prodding, don't try to take treats from her, don't bother her when she's eating or sleeping, etc. Again though, this is advice I'd give regardless of the breed.
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I think I will take the teaching approach and I will definitely sign us up for dog training classes. Looking back, I feel silly having asked whether or not it'd be too much to ask my boyfriend to rehome Delilah. Of course it is too much. I think I just got caught up in my worrying as a mother and over how frustrating it's been trying to find a place to rent when most places have breed restrictions on pits, even with rental houses. Also, one important detail I forgot to mention is that my son is a very hyperactive kid and often needs plenty of direction and reminders when it comes to his behavior and new "rules". I will probably never leave him alone with any dog. Knowing my son, that's probably the best idea. Anyway, thanks again. Very good things to consider and I will probably also get a book on pits. I welcome any good recommendations for a book.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Is it just me or does it sound odd to anyone else that she is ready to move in with her boyfriend and yet it sounds like her son hasn't even met the boyfriends dog yet? At least that's what I take away from her saying the dog hasn't been around small children before. I'd think that would have been an important step in the relationship before reaching the idea of moving in together.

Personally I'd say no to expecting him to rehome his dog because of your bias against pits. I certainly wouldn't give up my dog for a relationship, even more so if the dog hasn't actually DONE anything to give cause.

Unless there is something chemically wrong in the dogs brain dogs don't just snap and become aggressive. The vast majority of time the signs are all there but people just ignore them or don't know what to look for.

You're right, introducing Delilah to my son, or my son to Delilah, was a very important step. This is the big reason I decided to join this forum and ask advice on the subject. They seem fine whenever he brings Delilah over, except that she's usually overly excited so it's hard to tell how she really feels towards my son. We've also taken several trips to his parent's house together and, for each of those 2 hour long car rides, they've sat in the backseat together with no problem. They usually just pass out on each other. And, while we are staying at his parent's house we've never had a problem, but Delilah is usually preoccupied with other animals and the new environment so it's still hard to tell how she feels having a kid around. Visiting, no matter how often, is ultimately different from living with each other. This is where my concern begins but, like the other people suggested, we'll address it with dog training courses.

Also, I'm probably what you would consider to be one of those people who don't know how to look for the signs of aggression that apparently show before things happen, which is another reason why I was so concerned in the first place. I don't want to be that one person that didn't see it coming. I would hope my boyfriend knows how to spot these things in his own dog. She's 1 1/2 and we've been dating for 2 years now. I remember when he first got her. She is his first pit/mix, so I think it's safe to say he doesn't have much experience with pits. He's spent a lot of time training and raising her but I don't know if he knows how to identify these signs, as it's never come up in conversation before. While I won't ask him to rehome his dog (which apparently is simply ridiculous to do), I will definitely voice my concerns to him.

This may not make sense to you but, in all of this, I feel no shame in prioritizing my son's safety over his dog. This dog is one neither my son or I have lived with before. I also don't know very much about pitbull behavior. Of course I'm not going to just assume that every pitbull is an aggressive, fighting machine. But I'm also not just going to assume that she's not ever going to exhibit different behaviors, especially with such a big environmental change. Like I said before, I wouldn't want to be that person that didn't see it coming beforehand (the signs that were apparently always there). And if my boyfriend isn't aware of these things either, doesn't that in some way put him in the same boat as us? I'm just trying to think all of this through before we enter a situation we are not prepared/ready for.

Anyways, thanks for the reply.
 

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I will probably never leave him alone with any dog. Knowing my son, that's probably the best idea.
It's not just your son. You should leave ANY kid alone with ANY dog. We have a Newfoundland. One of the hallmarks of the breed is being really great with kids and having a wonderful, solid, loving temperament. The nanny dog in Peter Pan was a Newf (in the play script and the novel Peter and Wendy). When we have a kid, will we ever leave the two of them alone? Nope.

A lot of those so-called 'random' attacks where the dog just 'snaps', you hear people say "Oh, we just went in the other room for a second!" Plus, as everyone mentioned, they are always warning signs. You know all those pictures/video circulating the internet with babies and kids crawling all over big dogs and the dogs are just taking it and the caption reads something like "Awwww so cute! Look at how Fluffy loves out baby!" Examining those pictures and video often reveals stress signs in the dog. Whale eyes, lip licking, trying to move away from the kid...

If I were you, I would do some research on canine calming/stress signals. I think there are actually quite a few posts on here somewhere that deal with the subject. It's good information to have even if you DON'T have a dog, just so you can be on the lookout when your child comes into contact with other people's pups.
 

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I would suggest that you start doing as much reading as possible on dog body language and communication. There is a lot of good material for free online and most the books you can get at the public library or reasonably priced online.

Authors to read: Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Sophia Yin, Turid Ruugas and I'm sure other people can add more (and I can add more when the names come to mind)

Look at Bad Rap to learn about pit bulls/bully types specifically from a reputable source

It is fine and reasonable to be concerned with the safety of your son around a dog that you don't know well. But to be concerned specifically because the dog is a pit bull mix is IMO quite silly and if you voice your concerns to your boyfriend as it being a "pit bull" issue rather than a "dog" issue, then you're looking at it the wrong way. I've met maybe 200 pit bulls and mixes and as a breed type, they are BETTER than average with children. No dog should be allowed to be harassed or pushed past his comfort zone by a human (child or adult) but pit bulls are sturdy and tolerant on the whole and tend to put up with little minor annoyances really well. The American Temperament Testing society scores the APBT as better temperament then many common family breeds like Golden Retrievers.

All dogs need to be supervised closely around kids (and vice versa). I suggest feeding the dog in a crate or separate room and picking up the bowl after meal times. Never let your child grab at the dog's food or water bowls and when the dog has a chew treat (something that lasts) then she needs to have her space. Make sure she has a space to retreat to in the house if the kid is noisy or scares her a little (like playing with loud toys for example). Make sure she has at least 1 full hour of brisk exercise daily, 2 x 30 mins walks or 1 long walk plus some playtime and training games.

Take a training class with the dog yourself and bond with her and learn to read her body language. Finding a good trainer can be hard in some areas though, do your research well and please ask for opinions here on a trainer's style since there is a wide variety of training methods and some just aren't all that good.
 

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You're right, introducing Delilah to my son, or my son to Delilah, was a very important step. This is the big reason I decided to join this forum and ask advice on the subject. They seem fine whenever he brings Delilah over, except that she's usually overly excited so it's hard to tell how she really feels towards my son. We've also taken several trips to his parent's house together and, for each of those 2 hour long car rides, they've sat in the backseat together with no problem. They usually just pass out on each other. And, while we are staying at his parent's house we've never had a problem, but Delilah is usually preoccupied with other animals and the new environment so it's still hard to tell how she feels having a kid around. Visiting, no matter how often, is ultimately different from living with each other. This is where my concern begins but, like the other people suggested, we'll address it with dog training courses.

Also, I'm probably what you would consider to be one of those people who don't know how to look for the signs of aggression that apparently show before things happen, which is another reason why I was so concerned in the first place. I don't want to be that one person that didn't see it coming. I would hope my boyfriend knows how to spot these things in his own dog. She's 1 1/2 and we've been dating for 2 years now. I remember when he first got her. She is his first pit/mix, so I think it's safe to say he doesn't have much experience with pits. He's spent a lot of time training and raising her but I don't know if he knows how to identify these signs, as it's never come up in conversation before. While I won't ask him to rehome his dog (which apparently is simply ridiculous to do), I will definitely voice my concerns to him.

This may not make sense to you but, in all of this, I feel no shame in prioritizing my son's safety over his dog. This dog is one neither my son or I have lived with before. I also don't know very much about pitbull behavior. Of course I'm not going to just assume that every pitbull is an aggressive, fighting machine. But I'm also not just going to assume that she's not ever going to exhibit different behaviors, especially with such a big environmental change. Like I said before, I wouldn't want to be that person that didn't see it coming beforehand (the signs that were apparently always there). And if my boyfriend isn't aware of these things either, doesn't that in some way put him in the same boat as us? I'm just trying to think all of this through before we enter a situation we are not prepared/ready for.

Anyways, thanks for the reply.
If they have spent that much time together already with no issues it's very likely she is okay with kids. It is ALWAYS important to manage dogs and kids around each other but it doesn't really sound like your going to run into any problems.

I completely agree with you prioritizing your son's safety over your boyfriends dog, it is the responsible thing to do. Your original post simply came off as a fear driven response due to media bias about the horrible monsters pits are and it will suddenly "snap" and kill/maul your child. That simply isn't a likely situation with a properly managed environment. Despite what you may have heard pits in general are very good with children. If Delilah had ever done anything to make you concerned I'd understand some level of anxiety/reluctance but it sounds like she's been well behaved and given you no real reason to be concerned.

Definitely talk to your boyfriend about what training he's done with her and about doing additional training with you and your son. Everyone should be on the same page with the dogs training. What rules he has for her, what commands she knows, how those commands are given, etc. If everyone isn't on the same page with the rules/commands the dog will be confused and possible have issues come up.
 

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Hi everyone,

So I'm getting ready to get a place with my boyfriend. It's a big step in our relationship and for my 6 year old son. Well, he'll be bringing his 1 1/2 year old spayed female pit bull mix into the picture. I say she's a "mix" because she definitely doesn't look like other pit bulls I've seen. She looks smaller and less muscular, but she's still a bit of a block head. Anyways, whenever I try researching the pit bull breed I can't help but come across those terrible and horrific tragic stories of pit bulls attacking children. I want to overlook those stories because I know Delilah (his dog) is a complete sweetheart and she's super playful. But what's keeping her from flipping one day and deciding to dominate my child? My son's safety is my top priority and I can't help but feel concerned when I think about bringing Delilah into the family.

This is a stupid question, but what should I do? I might be over-thinking this but I'd rather be safe than join that 0.001% group of horrible attack stories. Is there something I can do to assure our safety when introducing her to the new family setup? Am I overdoing it if I ask my boyfriend to find her a new home over this?

Please try to give me rational/logical answers. I understand there are countless numbers of pits out there that wouldn't hurt a fly. Keep in mind, Delilah hasn't been around small children and we're not entirely sure how she'd like living with one.


Much appreciated,
Laynie
Because 1, don't don't try to dominate humans. They barely try to 'dominate' each other. Dogs don't work on a pack system with humans like they do with other dogs, if they work on that with other dogs at all.
and 2 dogs don't just snap. Those stories you read where the dog was always sweet then one day they attack, those are usually 'the dog always showed subtle hints of being agitated or upset and they were ignored and then one day whatever it was was too much and they acted.

You can supervise your child with the dog. Don't let your child play rough with the dog or prod her or bother her when she doesn't want to be bothered. Teach him to respect her and supervise interaction.
And yes you are way over the top asking him to rehome her.
 

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Also, I'm probably what you would consider to be one of those people who don't know how to look for the signs of aggression that apparently show before things happen, which is another reason why I was so concerned in the first place.
Hoping these might help you out with that ^

544134_528071143906023_1727299075_n.jpg 935466_592429934115525_902363522_n.jpg
 

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I actually read through the case reports of all people in the US killed by dogs from the years 2008-2012. (It was less than 100 case reports.) About 3/4 of the people killed were children under 5 and they all had one thing in common: they were alone with the dog. There were other common elements, though they didn't appear in every killing: it was a strange dog, tied out in the backyard, and most of the dogs in question were intact males.

So don't leave your son alone with your dog. Don't take your dog to the dog park if he won't stop running while he's there. Learn your calming signals (stress signs) and err on the side of caution.

 

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Discussion Starter #19
I would suggest that you start doing as much reading as possible on dog body language and communication. There is a lot of good material for free online and most the books you can get at the public library or reasonably priced online.
Authors to read: Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Sophia Yin, Turid Ruugas and I'm sure other people can add more (and I can add more when the names come to mind)
Thank you so much for all of these resources. I will definitely make use of them. I did not mean to come off as ignorant. You're right that this isn't necessarily a "pit bull" issue, rather it's a "dog" issue. All of your advice makes sense and I will definitely do those things.

I will be on the lookout for good trainers from here on out. Both my son and I could learn a lot about her. I wonder what training resources I have available in the Seattle-Tacoma area in WA...

Again, thank you for the information. I appreciate it.
 
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